Oh that’ll be just perfect, I said to myself as my eyes came to rest on a bolt of blue Phillip Jacobs fabric. This was ‘the one’ for my August Rain quilt, the perfect backing fabric. The colours would complement the front and, I don’t know, I could just imagine these petunias after some summer rain.
Phillip Jacobs, Petunias
I took it to the counter to have a length cut and the sales assistant warily asked “you do know this is £16.00 a metre?” (That’s $25+ USD). I was expecting it to be £12.00 (which in itself is a hefty price tag, but not unusual these days). “It’s a Kaffe Fassett.” Well, no actually, it’s a Phillip Jacobs. I roughly calculated that I would need four metres (due to the width): £64.00 ($102+ USD) for a lap quilt. For the back. Maybe I could get away with 3.5 meters? Ok, so that’s, what £56.00 ($90 USD)? For the back. I stared in disbelief, having seen only yesterday that someone on Facebook had picked up 7.5 yards of Kaffe Fassett Aboriginal Dot in a sale for $2.99 a yard (£1.86) in the US. I think it’s fair to say that would never happen here. I really would love to know why fabric sold in this country, that’s made in the far east, costs such ridiculously high prices, when clothing, made in the same part of the world, can be so cheap? That’s clothing. Fabric that’s already been cut up and stitched back together again. As opposed to fabric. Which hasn’t. It’s actually more expensive to make your own clothes than it is to buy them. Which is downright bloody ridiculous. Who’s making the money? And at who’s expense?
I bought half a metre. My August Rain quilt is made of scraps: waste not want not, make do and mend. I would make do with half a metre of the perfect fabric and find a creative way of piecing it with something perhaps less perfect, but most definitely more affordable. I’m going away next week and I plan to take it with me to hand quilt in the evenings. I’m really looking forward to getting it under way and by the time I finish the quilting I might’ve saved enough pennies to buy the perfect fabric for the binding instead. I still came out of the shop smiling, half a metre of a lovely fabric is better than none at all. That sorted I had some time to spare as I waited for my son to arrive in town after college. He needs to buy a new jumper.
That reminds me (don’t ask me why!), I need a new bag. I haven’t bought a new bag for well over a decade and I’m getting a tad fed up carrying around the massive (but lovely – it’s orange!) laptop bag that Kim and his dad gave me for my first mother’s day 16 years ago (and I don’t want to completely wear it out either.) I want something small, robust and relatively waterproof. I find something I like, make sure everything I need fits in (it’s pretty small), buy it and take it home. Kim decides he’s not coming in to town after all.
I’m still smiling when I get back. Until that is I realise I’d forgotten to try the bag with my glasses in and that when they’re in a hard case they won’t fit in with everything else. There’s nothing like getting to ‘a certain age’ and needing reading glasses to remind you that you’re a ‘certain age’. They drive me nuts. Having got this far down the road I was used to not wearing them, so now I have nothing but trouble remembering I actually need the things. And I can never find them when I do. The evening’s agenda suddenly changed. I gave myself a couple of hours to make a soft, quilted case that would easily fit in to the new bag. And was bright enough that I could see it a mile off.
New glasses case. It’s bright! (And this *is* Kaffe Fassett fabric.)
I am ridiculously pleased with the results. Disproportionately pleased for something that was quick and simple to make and is as utilitarian as a glasses case. Little things please little minds, so they say.
I’ve also been cutting up more shirtings for the Ocean Waves blocks I mentioned yesterday. The train journey to Norfolk at the weekend will be a long one and piecing some of these should pass the time productively. I love the rhythm these blocks create, even though I’ve got one of them upside down in the (terrible) photo. I suspect that when I come to stitch the blocks together I’ll be doing plenty of ripping out!
Riding the waves
This quilt will eventually be for my son, Kim, although it’ll probably be a couple more years in the making yet. Can you imagine saying that to some people, “a couple of years to make”. It’s just so against the ‘now, now, now’ culture this society promulgates (I think it’s even evident in quilt making). I would love it if more people found the deep satisfaction that can be had in ‘slow stitching’, making something by hand, for yourself; it gives so much more meaning to the word ‘value’ (and of course that doesn’t just apply to sewing). Value becomes about time and process, intention – which is significantly more than it’s monetary worth. I’m already thinking about what I want to quilt in those white squares, something to do with the sea, with Cornwall perhaps, so that wherever Kim ends up in the world, he’ll have something to remind him of home.
To me that’s where real value lies.
If you’d like to see some completed Ocean Waves quilts for ideas and inspiration I highly recommend these:
- Ocean Waves Quilts Pinterest board by Jean Hortado includes modern, antique and vintage interpretations
- Great book with a crib quilt Ocean Waves pattern
Well that’s me about finished for the day, what have you been working on, I’d love to come over to your place and find out Linking up with Work In Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced (link in the sidebar on the right) – some festive Fair Isle inspired quilting going on over there this week!
Happy quilting lovely friends
Today was a bit unusual – not the usual day I meet my friend Janie for a weekly catch-up and a bit of stitching (me) and knitting (Janie) over lunch. But when a friend asks ‘can we swap days this week?’, it’s no bother. I love these days so much and really miss them when we miss them.
Over the (many) years, we’ve created our own little ritual, tradition, that feels really connected to the roots of textile crafts to me. I like that. I like the fact that we come together to share stories, news, ideas and skills. We like to sit around a hearth at this time of year, as the colours change outside, keeping our hands busy.
Autumn warmth at The Old Quay Inn
Ok, so it’s not our hearth, it’s usually one we find in a pub somewhere about half way between where we both live, but it feels like home for the few hours we’re there. It’s comforting like a home should be, unlike mine, which has no hearth at all (I plan to move somewhere that I can have a roaring fire one day, I miss it so much. Janie has just had new a wood burning stove fitted in her home and is constantly regaling me with stories of how wonderful ‘Horace’ is! And I’m not in the least bit jealous, not at all!)
Janie knitting in home spun un-dyed baby alpaca yarn
Janie finished up a sweater she was knitting for another friend during the week and brought it along to show me. It feels wonderfully soft and surprisingly heavy – in a good way. I can’t believe how quickly she finished it; she’s on a second one already. The friend she’s knitting it for has her own alpaca herd and is giving her some yarn in return, so she’ll probably be onto a third one next time I see her!
And me? I just got on with a bit of hand piecing a few half square triangles today. My sewing machine still needs fixing so I decided to take along some hst’s to get my Ocean Waves quilt moving along in the mean time. I haven’t got as far with it as I’d hoped by now to be honest, so getting a few squares stitched up felt good. maybe I’ll have something to show you during the week.
Sewing with a view - The Old Quay Inn overlooks the creek (and yes, that’s my mud encrusted bike!)
Half term begins soon, which means my son Kim has a week off 6th form college, and we’ll be going up to Norfolk to see my parents, brother and sisters, and Kim’s cousins too. I’m hoping to get myself organised enough to make up the quilt sandwich for my August Rain quilt before we go, so that I can take it along and work on it there. If I can get it in my rucksack! Can’t wait to hand quilt it.
Tonight though I’m thinking about all the glorious colours I saw on my bike ride home from the pub, under very dull, grey skies. Gales and heavy rain are forecast to hit Cornwall tonight as the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo passes by. These trees will probably look very different by morning.
Bissoe Cycle Trail splashed with yellow
Beautiful coloured foliage spilling onto the lanes
And it wouldn’t be autumn without pumpkins
But I’m happy I caught the colours before they fade, or blow away. What coloured your day today?
Linking up with Lorna at Let’s Bee Social this week.
Happy stitching ’til next time
A little finish!
Hello, hello! I’m so pleased to have finished this little lavender pillow yesterday (Friday), hooray! Do you get that lovely feeling when you finish a small project that’s been around forever too, or is it just me that turns up the music and does a happy dance?! This little patchwork pillow is only about 6″ square, but it’s been on the go for almost a year.
Hexi lavender pillow
I finished the English paper piecing before last Christmas, but was too ill to think straight and finish it off. As I’ve got better it’s been in the back of my mind as one of those projects ‘that won’t take long’ – once I actually pick it up and get going with it! I got it hand quilted and sewn up this week though, and I’m most definitely happy with that.
Detail of some colourful hand quilting
There was some serendipity leaving it so long – a few months ago I was given this luscious piece of bottle green silk, which turned out to be both the perfect size and colour to finish it off.
Wonky backstitch and a natural shell button on pure silk
I’m looking forward to giving it to my friend, I’m sure she’ll have forgotten about it by now, so hopefully it’ll be a nice surprise!
In other news I finished writing the pattern for the Little Bird mug rug yesterday too. It’s all ready to put into my Craftsy pattern shop in the near future, so keep an eye open for that – if you subscribe to the newsletter (first one will be in November), you’ll be the first to hear about it; to sign up all you have to do is fill in the details in the column at the top right of the page (your email address won’t be used for any other purposes and you can unsubscribe at any time), which means you won’t have to remember to check back here to find out when the pattern’s available. Easy!
Little Bird, autumn mug rugs (the colour’s a bit over saturated, sorry!)
Oakshott Blog Hop
So what have you got planned for the weekend? I got out at another project I should have finished months ago, remember this in the lovely Kaffe Fassett shot cottons? But I still feel like I need some inspiration – I keep wondering whether to make it bigger so that it can be used, or continue with the idea that it would be a hanging, what do you think?
Looking around for some inspiration this morning I came across this Oakshott Blog Hop on Lily’s Quilts that’s happening soon and looks like it’ll be fun to follow along (click on the image below to see the list of bloggers taking part). Have you seen Oakshott’s website? It’s jammed full of luscious colour – I’ve got my eye on some of these ruby reds! Pity my wallet isn’t jammed full, haha!
Have a colourful weekend everyone
Linking up with Amanda-Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday – don’t forget to hop on over, Amanada-Jean’s sharing a fabulous quilt made from solid scraps that she’s finished up this week, and of course there are lots of other quilty finishes to explore too
It’s Work in Progress Wednesday already and right now a portable ‘slow stitching’ project is on my mind, something I can carry about with me this week and work on as I wait for appointments or meet up with friends. Then I remembered I have one to hand that needs finishing, doh! It’s a small lavender sachet that I started months ago, a gift for a friend. I hope she’ll forgive my tardiness!
Some shimmery silks
It’s a little hand stitched English paper pieced pillow (try and say that quickly!) with a mix of cotton and silk fabrics. It’s the first time I’ve mixed in some silk patches for EPP and it really adds a beautiful sheen, catching the light every now and again. If you fancy trying your hand with silk fabrics I recommend using something like a Dupion, which is a little stiffer and easier to handle (that’s what the plain eggshell blue is in this patchwork). It adds a touch of luxury to the humble patchwork and follows in the tradition of using up remnants and scraps from dress making.
I’m going to quilt this simply (by hand of course or I wouldn’t be able to take it out with me, haha!), but I think I might add some stitching in brightly coloured embroidery threads too – I’m just going to make it up as I go along, which is my favourite way of working!
If you haven’t tried English paper piecing before, I really recommend it. It’s relaxing and quiet, a sort of gentle stitching as well as slow stitching (although making something like this really isn’t slow at all!). If you’d like to have a go I’ve written a few EPP tutorials and one of my most popular free patterns is a hexagon pillow I called Grandma’s Hot House! I hope you’ll check them out.
If you’re looking for more inspiration check out these gorgeous Pinterest boards:
They’ll definitely make you want to get out your hand sewing needles!
Linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced (find the link in the sidebar and you can explore lots more work in progress from around the web too).
And the winners are…
4 lovely ladies!
The winners of the first ever Dawn Chorus Studio giveaway over on our Facebook page are…
- Betty Whipple Middleton who wins the set of four Little Bird hand appliqué and quilted mug rugs and a copy of the pdf pattern
- Christine Prosser
- Mel Lewis and
- Sue Pulleyblank who each win a copy of the pdf pattern, so they can have fun making their own!
Thank you to everyone that came over and joined in, I hope you enjoyed it too. What a great way to make more friends! Let’s keep talking and sharing, it’s so much fun If you haven’t visited our Facebook page yet pop on over and say hi, we’re getting to know each other and it’s becoming a really friendly, inspiring place to be.
How I ran a giveaway
Running the giveaway was a lot of fun, but I have to say mildly stressful too! As I’m new to all this I don’t know if I went about it in the most effective way, and trying to keep up the interest and a bit of momentum is harder than you’d think. Here’s a brief run down of the process I went through:
- I decided why I wanted to do it. (As a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our burgeoning group of friends on Facebook and hopefully to make some more.)
- I decided what the ‘prize’ would be. (A pattern for our quilty friends to make and something that might appeal to our friends who love handmade, but don’t actually quilt anything themselves – yet!)
- I decided what the rules would be. Number 1 was that I didn’t want to ‘force’ people to share the giveaway in order to enter it – that doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you ask friends to do!
- I decided on 3 blog posts to post over a week that I hoped would raise interest in the event, where I could share some of the techniques I used to make the mug rugs (see the post on my top 10 tips for neat needle turn appliqué) and keep the interest going.
- Posted details of the giveaway and blog posts on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.
- Posted daily about it on Twitter and regularly on the Facebook page.
- Got my son to draw the winners last night – see above!
The next step is to review my goals, which were to say thank you for liking the page and hopefully to raise awareness of it to make more friends. So how did it go?
Well, we had a small number of participants in the giveaway itself (so more chance of you winning!), but a few people also ‘liked’ the post about it without actually entering. It was shared once on Facebook, 10 times on Twitter and a few times on Google+. Over the last week the number of our Facebook friends has grown from 153 to well over 200 (although these definitely aren’t all related to the giveaway), and if some of them join in the conversation or find something to inspire them on the page that will be really great. But in terms of saying ‘thank you’ to the friends we already had, I’m not sure it was as successful as I’d hoped – not too many of you entered, booo! (Feel free to let me know why in a comment if you’re one of them, it could be really helpful for future giveaways or anyone else thinking about doing the same thing for the first time. And it’s perfectly ok to say it’s because you didn’t like the prize, or you don’t like giveaways! In fact, if you have any previous experience or ideas for future giveaways just share your thoughts below and let’s get talking!)
So would I do it again? Of course! Who wouldn’t want to do something nice for their friends once in a while, when there’s something to celebrate? Maybe we could do something to celebrate the launch of the new Dawn Chorus Studio Newsletter in November? You can subscribe in the top right hand corner now, which means you won’t have to remember to do it in a couple of weeks’ time and you’ll be the first to hear about new patterns, inspiring, helpful stuff and interesting news from around the web! More about that in another post though…
Today is all about the first ever Dawn Chorus Studio giveaway and, more importantly, its very special winners Betty, Christine, Mel and Sue! Thank you so much ladies, you really made my day! Happy quilting
Edited to add that I just came across a really interesting post The Real Truth about Giveaways by Abby Glassenberg over at While She Naps. Lots of food for thought and some lively discussion in the comments too – people really have strong opinions about giveaways and what they like and dislike about them. I have to say, I find blogs that have sponsored giveaways all the time a real turn off – it makes me wonder who the blog is really by, the blogger or the sponsor, and exactly what their motives are. What do you think: giveaways, good or bad?
After a ‘working lunch’ (ahem!) at The Old Quay Inn on Thursday these hand quilted giveaway mug-rugs are all sewn up and ready to fly off to a lucky winner on Monday. The giveaway is a thank you to celebrate reaching a small milestone on the Dawn Chorus Studio Facebook page. Our friends are growing and it’s turning out to be a lovely place for a chat with likeminded people. Come and join us if you haven’t already – and enter the giveaway there too!
I’ve loved making these appliqué mug rugs – they were the perfect project to take on my weekly lunch date with a crafty friend, Janie. She’s a great knitter and at the moment is making a jumper for a friend who keeps alpacas, from yarn spun from their fleeces. Earlier on in the year I posted about another one of our lunch dates when Janie was knitting a Christmas stocking - she was way ahead of the game on that one! How’s your festive making going? I’m close to getting my christmas stocking pattern ready to publish, but as for thinking about my own festive projects, ummmm, yes! Or, rather no. I haven’t given it much thought yet. Too many other exciting things to think about at the moment. Like the weekend for example!
I’m headed to Tavistock (80+ miles away) to meet another friend (it’s been a social whirl this week!) who moved there recently and I’m looking forward to a good walk on the moor with her tomorrow. I’m excited about the train journey up too because stashed in my bag are copies of Quiltmania and the Pro Guide to Quilting magazines. I’ve never really got into the whole quilt magazine thing, so I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you next week. If you have a favourite regular read let us know what it is in the comments – your recommendations are always welcome.
Don’t forget to head over and enter the giveaway on Facebook for a chance to win these lovely autumn mug rugs, or a copy of the pdf pattern so you can make your own – the little bird is one of my original designs so you won’t find it anywhere else!
Have a lovely weekend everyone
Today, for Work in Progress Wednesday, I’m sharing the progress of my autumn inspired coasters that I’m making for my mug rug giveaway (have you entered yet – the giveaway doesn’t close until Monday 13th, so don’t forget to head on over!), which gives me the perfect opportunity to share my top tips for neat needle turn appliqué with you!
Here’s the first one finished in lovely autumn colours
I think needle-turn appliqué is one of the simplest decorative patchwork techniques there is; you don’t need anything more fancy than a needle and thread and some pieces of fabric to make up your design. That’s all! And if you’re appliqué-ing patches (rather than a whole cloth quilt) it’s totally portable too.
In progress – the bird on the right has been appliquéd in place ready to quilt
One of the best things about making these mug rugs has been fussy cutting the shapes from Kaffe Fassett floral fabrics to suggest feathers and the birds’ breasts or neck rings. I don’t think you’d ever guess that the fabrics were covered in dahlias designs to begin with! But before I start waxing lyrical about colours and shapes let’s take a look at my 10 tips for neat needle-turn appliqué instead!
My Top 10 Tips!
- If you’re repeating the same design on a number of patches (like I am on these mug rugs), it makes sense to cut out your template from a thin piece of card, and in the spirit of make do and mend, I recommend an old cereal box!
- Cut your seams fairly generously and trim them as you go, this will help stop any fraying.
- Basting your fabric pieces into place with big stitches away from the edges makes it much easier to stitch your pieces down than when they’re held in place with pins – they just get caught up in the thread the whole time. Which is no fun at all. Seriously, it’s rubbish!
Basting the bird!
- Choose your sewing thread to match your appliqué pieces, not the fabric you’re sewing them to – that way any stitches on the surface won’t show up.
- Don’t start your stitching on a point or at a sharp intersection, always start along an edge. If you start on a point you’ll find it’s much easier to squash it out of shape and lose the crispness you’re after.
- When stitching around a point put your stitches either side of it, rather than right through the tip of it, as again I find this often looses the crispness.
- It’s not necessary to clip into smooth curves, you’ll just end up with frayed fabric or a seam more prone to fray with use.
- Sometimes though, it is necessary to clip into a tight curve (like in the bird’s tail feathers below) and I’ve found that the best way of dealing with this is to stitch it down with slightly more visible stitches to stop any potential fraying. Just bring your needle up through the fabric a couple of threads from the edge and make one or two oversew stitches, rather than the blind stitch you’d usually use, as you can see in the picture below.
Making stitches over a clipped seam
- Use your needle not just to turn under your seam allowance, but to tease your appliqué into shape as well. This is especially effective around curves.
- And finally, how do you get the invisible stitch? When you’re stitching your appliqué down the crucial thing is to bring the needle up through the edge of the seam (rather than on top of it). I find it really helpful to have the thumbnail of my free hand right on the edge of the seam to guide the needle up against – it works every time!
1 finished, 3 to go!
What do you think, have you got any tips to add? Feel free to share them in the comments below!
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win the mug rugs (or a copy of the pdf pattern) you can see me making here! It would make my day if you come and join in!
Linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let’s Bee Social with Sew Fresh Quilts – head on over to see what’s been going on!
Finally, an apology for the colours in these photos, they’re not quite as good as they should be – we’ve had thunder and lightening for a couple of days now and to say the skies have been grey is a bit of an understatement! Still, I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. I went for a dog walk with my friend this morning in some local woods and the sound of the rain on the canopy was so soothing, the smells were wonderful and the colour, well, just sublime! I’m really looking forward to Halloween and bonfire night!
Pop by Friday to see the finished coasters, until then… Enjoy the change in season wherever you are!
Hello my lovelies, how was your weekend? Lots of quilting I hope? Mine was one of surprises – which are always fun! Did you notice the post title? You did?! Woohoo, yes, I’m pleased to announce my first small giveaway, eek!
Dawn Chorus Studio has a Facebook page where each day I share colourful inspiration, work in progress, giveaways, fabric sales and lots more (most of all I like to talk to you all, haha!) and this weekend marked a small but unexpected milestone when we reached over 150 ‘likes’.
A while ago I promised a giveaway when we reached that milestone, so here it is! A lovely autumn gift of a set of four hand quilted mug rugs (coasters). As well as the set that I’ve made, 4 people will also win the opportunity to download the pdf pattern for free, so you can have fun too making them up in your favourite fabrics! I think they’ll look perfect under a cup of warming hot chocolate or cinnamon spiced coffee on a glorious autumn day!
The giveaway mug rug!
Some weeks ago a wonderful lady called Kitty Sorgen sent me some of her fabulous Kaffe Fassett scraps from across the ocean and I thought it would be lovely to share that gift with you, so the appliqué birds are made from some of my favourite florals (the background fabric is from Valori Wells‘ collection Nest). You can see some of Kitty’s beautiful quilts over on the Kaffe Fassett Collective page on Facebook.
As I mentioned earlier, reaching the milestone was a bit unexpected, so the mug-rugs are still a work in progress!
Applique in progress
I thought it would be fun to share the making with you, so pop back on Wednesday to see how they’re coming along and then on Friday for the big finish! (And hopefully some much better photographs…)
How to enter
For the opportunity to win the set of four, or a free pdf pattern download (which will include full instructions so that you can make some for yourself), just pop on over to the Dawn Chorus Facebook page, give us a ‘like’ and leave your name in a comment at the Giveaway post at the top of the page! If you’re already one of our lovely FB friends, just leave a comment on the same FB post to say you’d like to join in. That’s it. No need to share the post add infinitum (but please feel free if you’d like to!), this is just a little thank you for sharing the quilty love with me over on Facebook! The winners will be announced first on Facebook on Monday 13th October at 10pm, and then here on the blog.
Until Work in Progress Wednesday, happy sewing