31 July 2011

Farmers wife quilt weeks 4-6

I'm catching up slowly!  I had some much easier, and therefore quicker ones recently so I cracked on with a few.  Where there are odd shapes and triangles, I have been continuing with the templates, and I seem to be getting quite good results with them.  They are slow to cut, but I'm slow anyway, faffing about getting them straight, square and accurate, so I don't think I lose much time.  So here they are

Numbers 18 (Century of Progress), 51 Hovering Birds, 58 mothers Dream, 77 Seasons, 1 Attic Windows and 30 End of the Day.

I'm really pleased with these 6, and the new fabrics I got are just super.  I think I need some yellow now though.  Century of Progress  (middle top) meets fairly well in the middle, but it is about 3/4 inch thick!   ANy tips on how to make this knot of seams in the middle lie a bit better.   I have also started to iron the seams to one side rather than open, which makes it easier to line up, much easier, but I don't like the step it leaves on the front of the seam.  Will this lie down better when it's quilted?

And here are the 12 I've done so far

I willl definitely do the one on the left again.  There is not enough definition in the colours.  The fabrics I thought would work out well are not so good.   May have to buy some more!  My favourite so far is the one on the far right, SIlver Lane.  

I have to admit that they aren't all 6.5" - A lot are 6.25 which I suppose doesn't matter too much as long as I can make them all 6.25"

The quilt-along is on week 9 so I'm catching up.  Not that it matters that much really.   How's everyone else getting along?

30 July 2011

Favourite things Friday (on Saturday)

Sorry this post is a day late - had a bit of a busy day yesterday.  I did try to post this last night, but it was too late, I was too tired (and maybe too many glasses of wine) and nothing went well.   So I had to leave it till this morning.

I just love markets and we seek them out wherever we are on holiday.  Here's a few piccies taken recently



We left the UK to live here in the Czech Republic nearly 6 years ago, just as Farmers Markets were hitting the streets.    I also used to shop regularly at the local W.I market.  So it was dissapointing to find when we got here there were so few markets.   We have a wonderful little square in Valtice which is just crying out for a colourful market.   So I was very pleased when a friend told me that a Farmers market had started up in Breclav, a town only 10 kms away.    It's on every other Friday (hence it qualifies for Favourite things Friday) and last week, being on holiday, we set of to visit, with mixed feeling I must add.  Partly excited about what treasures we may find,  but also a little skeptical because things here have a habit of not living up to expectations!

Well it wasn't bad, not brilliant, but one or two finds

A nice veggie stall - we didn't buy anything here though because we have loads ourselves.

A stall selling ducks eggs which we would have bought except there was a huge queue.  Didn't get a photo of that I'm afraid.   I also didn't take a photo of the stall selling tomato ketchup!  Well it is made locally but hardly farmers fayre. 

A sausage stall

And best of all a cheese stall.

This is the find of the last 6 years.  Czech cheese is rubbish, and that's being kind.  It's a tasteless, plastic filler for sandwiches and nothing else.   Oh but this stall had some wonderful cheeses.  We bought a really kick-ass piece of goats cheese (centre front), a sharp crumbly cheese covered in cranberries, and the piece of cheddar that you can see on top of the pile on the right!  We are still eating the cheddar now, rationing ourselves to make it last a bit longer!   And we'll definitely be back there again.  Maybe some duck eggs next time.

I think it needs a few more stalls with a little more variety, but hey, this is better than we had before!   Maybe a little crafty stall ...............
Pop over to Quilting in my pyjamas to see what other peoples Friday favourites are.

27 July 2011

The good, the bad and the downright ugly

I thought it about time I posted something about quilting.  I've not had huge amounts of time this last couple of weeks, but feel I have achieved a fair amount, some good, some bad (there's a clue in the title).

The downright ugly

This project has been hanging around, jeering at me from the corner of the dining room every time I go in.  I actually love the Dresden and the colours, but that's as far as it goes.   This is where it is at the moment

As it was an experimental piece that I didn't know what to do with anyway, when I came to do the quilting,I thought I'd try a few of the 200 stitches on my machine.  I chose one that reminds me of the pheasant tracks we see in the snow around here in winter, and quilted either side of the seams on the dresden.  I really was quite pleased with it. 

The stitches aren't always even - the piece was dragging on the edge of the table, so it wasn't feeding regularly.   but on the whole it's quite good. 

But I should've quit whilst I was ahead.     More is less, as they say.  I then chose another similar stitch to frame the circle.   At this stage I realised all was not right, but I was committed (I should be) and had to finish the job , so I did the same inside the scrappy border, and then, just to balls it up completely, I different stitch again outside the border.  Here's a close up, but you may wish to look away at this point, and make sure the children are safely out of the room.

Those of you that did dare to look may notice that the two whites are not the same, and the green thread I used on the border is not the same as that around the Dresden.   That's because I ran out of both, and couldn't get the same again.  Numpty.   In my defence, this was all a bit spur of the moment, using what I had but all the same.....

And the back - well best not go there.  It's awful.  I use the spray baste and although it did hold quite well for the duration of the quilting,  there are still lots of folds and creases.  I think that's probably the fault of the batting which is some of the original polyester stuff I bought before I knew better.  It moves  a lot.

So all in all, it's very ugly.   And I still don't know what to do with it!   I think I may look for a large cushion when in the UK next month and use the Dresden on it's own to make a cushion cover.

Anyway, lets move on to something better.  This is my latest effort at a play mat/baby quilt.  I've seen a lot of people doing pin wheels recently and I love them.  So I thought I'd use some fabric I bought locally earlier on in the year to make a pin-wheel quilt.  This is how far I got:

This one's really going well, so I just need to concentrate so that I don't mess this one up too!   I want to put some sashing between each of the pinwheels, but unsure whether to use white, or a yellow/green mix with a little square at each junction.  A while ago we were watching the original series of Boys from the Black Stuff (UK TV series from the 1980's) and saw some wall tiles which I thought would make a great border/sashing.  Any suggestions anyone?   And I also need a name, but don't forget it has to be a song title!

And finally the good (well the last one was good too, so there isn't a bad)  I received some more fabrics on Monday for my Farmers wife quilt.

They are a mix of feedsack patterns.  I just love the top one on the right,, but they are all lovely.  So I'm off now to start cutting them into little bits! 

24 July 2011

The attached message had PERMANENT fatal delivery errors!

I have been having problems recently with my e-mails.    Many of you will know this!  You are unable to reply to my comments, unable to reply to e-mails, and very often my e-mails to you are rejected.  In cyberspace, we apparently don't exist.   I have swapped over to using Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, because using Explorer,  I am still unable to log into Google when leaving comments, a problem that I have had for many months now.   My man at the service provider is on the case, but isn't making much headway.  I may have to swap to another e-mail, but I'm not technically very savvy.  Does anyone use/know about Gmail?  Any other recommendations?

In the meantime, thanks for your patience.  It very frustrating I know, after you've spent time writing an e-mail to find it won't go anywhere!  

22 July 2011

Favourite Things Friday

My favourite thing this week is my freshly painted house.

We have been on holiday this week and decided to re-paint the outside of the house.  Although it is only just over 3 years old, I think the builder used the cheapest, nastiest paint possible, and probably only did one coat in a lot of places.  As a result, it has faded very badly, making my lovely house look shabby.   We started on Saturday and eventually finished this morning.  And it looks beautiful.

Here's an "in progress" photo

The colour on the left was originally the same as the colour on the right.  I love it when the change is so obvious.

And here is the finished article.  A view of the kitchen window and porch.  I know it's very bright, but it just looks right.

We've just got the cleaning up to do - we're very untidy painters - then maybe I could get some sewing done.  Oh, after the gardening, which needs to be done before the rain starts again.

Pop over to Quilting in my pyjamas to see what other peoples Friday favourites are.

17 July 2011

In my defence, your honour......

.........I was only a newbie, who thought she could do as well as those who has years more experience.

When other people were avoiding the Farmers wife templates, I didn't fully appreciate that they all had years of experience of throwing these blocks together.  If they didn't need the templates, then neither did I!

But after this week's attempt at the FW blocks (only week 3 I'm afraid) I am a 100% convert to the template.  Here's why

1st block (no template)
Flock - no 34

Case for the prosecution
  • Nothing lines up
  • The block is not 6 1.2 inches
  • I made the bigger HST way to big because I "worked out" how big it should be
  • It took me 2 hours to put together
  • I ripped almost every seam at least once
  • It still looks like a bag of sshhh you know what
  • I had a headache at the end of it
  • I considered giving quilting up altogether
2nd block (template)

Hill and Valley (no 46)

Case for the defence

  • It took 20 minutes to cut and 30 minutes to put together
  • Every seam and every point is spot on
  • It measure 6.5 inches
  • It's flat
What more can I say.  

Quite a lot actually.  I resisted templates because I read so many people weren't using them. The consensus was that they took so much longer to cut out, and were such a hassle.   Then I read Lee's post over at freshlypieced.  She has used the templates with great success.  But I was still reluctant as,  I have to admit, I don't really know the best way of using templates, so I went over to the FW group on flicker and found that I wasn't the only one unsure as to how to use them.  Following a suggestion on there, I have now printed off all the templates and laminated them.  I still didn't use them for the first block, but thought I'd give them a go for the second.  Let's face it, it's got a long way to go to be worse than the first! And guess what.  Not only was it quicker to cut them out (I am a very slow cutter, trying to keep them accurate), but IT WORKED.  My second block, whilst not perfect, is pretty damned close. 

So from now on, I will be using the templates and it looks like no 46 is due to be ditched and re-done.  And for any of you less confident new quilters, I suggest you give the templates a try

And so the case for the defence rests.

The next block on my schedule is Century of Progress, which should test my new-found confidence to the limits!!

When in Berlin

I know it's unlikely that many of you will find yourselves in Berlin, but if you do, a new fabric shop opened last week.

Doesn't it look wonderful?  When I visited Berlin last year, I visited Linda in her studio in the leafy suburbs. It was like Aladin's cave.    I bought the fabrics for this quilt from her.

And also if you have a moment, check out her website - http://www.volksfaden.de/  It is one of the most unusual and original I have seen, and she has some beautiful fabrics.  So good luck Linda.

Also I wanted to tell you about a new blog written by a friend of ours in Oz.  She is a talented photographer, and is doing a series on how to take better photographs.  I often hear the cry "Sorry the photos are rubbish" so mabye there is something there to help us all.  
http://nicolahillphotography.blogspot.com/.   Frankly, some of it is beyond me - Rear Synch flash photography for goodness sake?   She also sells some of her (rather splendid) work here  http://nicolaclarkeimages.com/gallery.html.

Neither of these good folks are paying me by the way - I just thought I'd tell you about them for interest.

15 July 2011

Favourite things Friday.

I have just stumbled across Favourite Things Friday over at Quilting in my pyjamas and thought it would be fun to link in.   So here's my regular Favourite thing on a Friday

Friday evening has always been our night for going out for a bite to each.  When we came over to live in the Czech Republic, this continued, in fact it was even more important, as in the early days here, we were under considerable stress from several angles.  We are lucky to have a choice of good restaurants in town, because we are in a popular tourist area.   This, in our humble opinion, is the best.  The waiter you can see to the left of the picture is our favourite and always looks after us.   Come rain, come shine, (and -20 degrees) we always make it to one of the restaurants in town, although in winter we are inside fo course.

So that's my faourite Friday thing.  You're welcome to join us if you're in town.  Hop over to Quilting in my pyjamas to see what other people's Friday favourites are.

10 July 2011


Well that's a first.  I've never had a tah-dah moment before.  But at long last my "Sweet Dreams" quilt is finished.  

Is it for me?

I love this one

Complete with (Slightly wonky) label
This is quite a simple quilt, which has taken aggggeeees, but it done at last and I think it's so sweet.  My husband when asked (I know I shouldn't should I?) thought the colours are a bit bland.   Well compared with the last one, which was PINK, they are more muted. But all in all, quite good.

Progress is also being made on the farmers wife blocks.  Here's week 2.  Both of these took ages to cut, and were quite complicated to put together.

Silver Lanes (79) on the left and Country Path (24) on the right

And all together.  I think that one a t the top is going to have to be re-done.  There's not enough contrast on the HSTs
Not only am I pleased with how these two look, colour wise, but I'm also pleased with the improvements in the accuracy of the finished blocks.  They are vastly improved on the first two, despite making that little pinwheel in the centre 3 times!  As I wanted to do this to improve my techniques, I want to keep a record the whole proces so here's a list of what I've learnt this time.

1.  HST - make them bigger and cut them to size
2.  On clarty little pieces, like 1" HST, a pin is more trouble than it's worth.
3.  I did use a couple of templates, which at first I thought were a pain in the bum, but then I found those little nibby bits on the end are brilliant for lining up, especially on the bias seams.

Things that are improving
1.  Accurate cutting
2.  taking time to line the seams up carefully
3.  Straight seams
4.  Accuracy and neatness of the finished piece - only in the centre though, it still gets a bit unruly towards the outside, as I lose focus a bit. 

Things that need more work
1.  How to use the templates properly
2.  Remembering to make sure the seams on the bottom piece are open before stitching over them.
3.  Take breaks and concentrate right to the end.

I might get some more done this afternoon as it's HOT at the moment (35 yesterday) at which point I melt down and it's a good excuse to retreat inside.

Take care

05 July 2011

I couldn't resist the Farmers Wife

My Farmers Wife Book finally arrived yesterday.  When I sent for it I wasn't sure whether or not to try it, but I thought it would be a good way to learn some new stuff and practice, practice practice.  So by the time it arrived, I'd persuaded myself to give it a go.  I wasn't sure what order to go in, but without a plan I know I'd do the easy ones first and leave all the difficult ones till last.   So I decided to do them in the order that they are with the letters.   Which meant the first one had at least a hundred HSTs (may be more) but I did it.

No 26 - Cut Glass Dish

It's definitely not square, and neither is it 6 1/2 inches, but the points all meet pretty well so it's not bad.  And it only took me 4 hours!.    If I get to the end and this one really stands out as being bad, I can always do it again (oh please!).

And next on the catwalk, No.    54.  Kitchen Woodbox

This is much better - it's almost square and just about 6 1/2 inches.  I'll grant you it doesn't look square, but the wind is blowing the corners up.  And this one took me less than an hour.

And here they are together

Oh bugger - I didn't notice the lens cover thing there!  Never mind.
  I have a few of these 1930 feedsack prints which I rather like and also seem to fit in with the era of the Farmers Wife Stories, so I'm thinking I'll continue with these and try and get my hands on a few more in the same style.   All with a dash of white as well.

I have also almost finished my sweet dreams quilt.  The label is done, and I hope to sew it on this evening and get a few photos in the sunshine tomorrow.

And the other thing that I finished and forgot to show you is the scary teddy.   I managed to sort his face out using a bit of embroidery thread, which was much easier than trying to do it in wool. 

I still don't like it, but my sister-in-law was pleased with it, and by now, it should have been sold at the church fete, and be with it's new owner, who will love it to bits.  Unlike me.

Just to let you know that today and tomorrow are bank holidays here in the Czech republic.  Today is Saints Cyril and Methodius Day (Christian Missionaries in the Balkans)  and tomorrow is Jan Hus Day (He was a priest, philosopher and reformer).  So now you know.  You  can either
a) choose to ignore/forget it  or

b) stun your friends with your knowledge of eurpoean bank holidays.

The choice is yours.

Bye for now.

03 July 2011

Saturday sewing

Yesterday I managed to find time to do a bit of sewing, in between gardening, harvesting, and watching tennis.

On my "to do" list is to master the art of making labels.  I have a few quilts out there in the world, that still need to be labelled because previous attempts were pants.  It was better to leave them naked than send them out badly dressed.  SO I thought I'd have a go at doing one with my new machine.  I  had an hour playing with the programming, trying to fathom it out, and came up with these

Ignore the fact that the year is 20112 (I didn't quite now how to stop the programme at this stage - it was almost 201120112011 etc) and other small speelling mistakes, and the random butterflies that look like a pair of glasses.  We're looking at the concept here.  Does it look naff?   I favour the plainer writing, slightly closer together as on the top right.   Unfortunately in this font, Quiltova looks like Qulltover.  What do you think?  Do you write your real name or your blogger identity?

I wasn't going to start anything else until I'd tidied up the rest of the things I have outstanding, but I was looking through the Moda Bakes shop for something to do with my sherbet pips charm pack, when I saw this

and thought I'd have a go. The instructions seemed easy enough - Only time will tell!  This is how far I got last night  listening the Prague Proms from the Smetana Hall in Prague.

Watch this space