29 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I'm getting rather excited because my SIL, Bridget arrives tomorrow for a week of sewing.  Well, nearly a week of sewing, although I suppose I'd better share her with Gordon a bit too! One of the projects we want to make progress on is the old Snowballs "Heirloom quilt".  I think by the time she arrives with her blocks, we will have near on 40 of the, enough for two quilts very probably.

I've been sorting through them, dusting off the cobwebs, taking out papers, removing threads etc, but I've come across a little problem.  Unfortunately, when Bridget printed out some of the templates, she didn't print them "actual size" so the blocks vary in size, and we are never going to be able to sew them together.  I think the best bet will be to applique them on to a backing.  But, never having done this before, I have a question.  What do I do with all the little ears that stick out?   Can anyone help me?

I'm linking up with Lee's WIP Wednesday, so here's my full list
  • Stitch Tease 2 - half quilted but I daren't put my machine onto FMQ until after Bridget has gone, just in case the tension goes again!
  • Love beads - all the diamonds made, and started to piece the top.  Loving this one
  • Scrappy quilt - about 500 2 1/2 in square cut - just another 300 to go!
  • Euro Siblings together - top completed, waiting to be basted
  • 2 Christmas cushions - front completed, waiting to be made up into cushions
  • Tea cup quilt - no progress
  • Flower girl quilt - waiting for bridget
I have a few other bits of EPP and Bee blocks floating around too.  I MUST NOT START ANYTHING ELSE!
Right now, I'd best get off and tidy the sewing room a bit to make room for an extra body!

27 January 2014

Husvarna Viking Sapphire 875 Quilt

How do I hate thee?  Let me count the ways.  Unfortunately my machine had to go to hospital again this week (even machines get stressed out).  The tension was completely hopeless - so bad that I couldn't sew with it.  As  I thought I would be without a machine for a week at least,  I got out some of the projects that are lurking at the back of the cupboard with the spiders. Then, surprisingly,  I got an SMS next day to tell me the machine was ready.  Wow, good service or what.

Gordon collected it for me on Wednesday, and I had a quick bobby on it and all seemed well.  Next evening I popped the quilting foot on and tried the FMQ, which is often a bit dodgy tension wise.  And guess what, it was back to being rubbish, and there was NOTHING I could do about it.  And to put the tin hat on it (as my mum would have put it) the tension had gone on the straight line stitching too.

So when Gordon got home to a rather dejected and slightly tearful me, he took pity on me and started fiddlling with the machine.  Next morning, with the help of a very nice service engineer called Niel at a Husqvarna shop in Notingham, he had sorted it all out and it was running reasonably well.  Not perfect but OK.

So you can see why I'm so fed up with it.  I've tried hard to like the damned thing for three years, but I've had enough.  I think I have proved that sewing is not a fly-by-night hobby, and that the machine will not sit in a corner unused,   so I'm in the market for a new one.

Now the hard part starts, trying to find one.  I've already been to the Janome agent.

Unfortunately although I could try one, there was no foot pedal, which made it rather hard to judge it.  But one thing I did notice, is that it did a rather nasty knotty thing underneath at the start of the sewing.  Mmm - trying to get away from that.

So I'm looking for suggestions, please.  What do you sew with?   My main criteria (aside from reliability) is the large sewing space under the frame, as I love FMQ, and will likely as not always do my own.  I do NOT need the squillion embroidery stitches, but it seems the manufacturers always put the two together, I have no idea why.   I hope to get to the Prague Patchwork meeting this year, where I can try a few different ones, all in one place.

In the mean time, here's one of those dusty projects that I dragged out

I bought this  fabric for the Love Beads quilt back in London in July.  I started cutting it but other things got in the way.   I pulled it out again the other morning and, with no pressures to sew anything, I quite enjoyed myself cutting 160 triangles and 80 hexagons.  But as there are descrepencies with the templates and cutting instructions, I'm cutting only in stages, so that I can test that all the pieces fit before I cut the lot.  Unexpectedly I was left with a lot of  triangular off cuts from the Liberty fabric, so I've started a little hand stitching project

So now I can walk away from the machine when I get frustrated, and do some hand stitching!
It's better than throwing it out of the window, although I admit that would be rather satisfying too!

20 January 2014


Gordon and I don't bother much with Christmas presents, but when I saw this I thought it would make a useful little stocking filler for him

Gordon spends hours in the garage.  His current pass-time is mending bikes.  He bought a couple of bargain bikes from the local bazar (second hand shop) and he's taught himself to service them with the help of youtube.  We now have two visitors bikes, so we don't have to hire them, and a third one which he bought for around thirty quid including a bike bag, helmet and water bottle!  Once he's repaired this, he will probably sell it again.  He won't make much money, but he'll have had hours of fun.  Unfortunately my requests for new seed boxes and a light box seem to have been bumped down the list!  But I digress.  I thought the mug would be good for taking a coffee out to the garage - it does get rather cold when it's freezing outside, and also it makes it look like I haven't forgotten him!  But the problem is, it is extremely hot, so I made it a little mug cozy

I used this tutorial to make it, and super easy it was too. Now I can carry it and he can drink it without getting burnt.  Nice moustache fabric, but possibly not the best choice as it is already covered in gunk and stuff - although I admit the baked bean juice was my fault! Possibly I need to make another gunk-coloured one

But beware of mug cozies - they are a nice little haven for sleepy wasps and they might just sting you - ask Gordon!

18 January 2014

Patchwork comes to town

I know I have mentioned this before, but there are times when I feel quite isolated out here in the Czech Republic.  I mainly sew alone and whilst I have a couple of sewing friends, Jitka and Vera, they are about 100 kms away, so it's not easy to meet up.  The blogs I read seem to be full of reports of little sewing groups,  patchwork meetings, classes and exhibitions  and I feel so jealous. 

Well today I think I have ended all that.   I was very happy when I read in the local paper that there would be a patchwork class in the gallery in town this weekend.  It was for beginners, but hey, if there's a chance to meet other quilters, improve my czech, and make friends, I'm not going to turn it down.   I think I can safely say, I did all three.
 I was all packed up early this morning, ready to go like the first day at school!  Excited but really nervous.

 But I needn't have been, as everyone was really friendly, and despite my appalling czech, they actually talked to me (the girls at line dancing don't talk to the foreign devil!) 

There were 9 of us and as it happens, we made a block that I've always wanted to try and never done, a windmill block, or flic-flak as we czech's call it!  The fabrics were all provided, so maybe not what I would normally choose, but I think not too bad

It looks a little darker than it really is because I've taken the photo at night, but the floral fabric is quite Liberty-esque.  This block is really easy for a beginner to make, but it looks really impressive and far more complicated than it it

Here we are all at work

And another couple of blocks

We are meeting again in March, and they have even swapped the day so that I can go!  How about that then.  But the funniest thing, and one that had Gordon rolling in the aisles, is that some of the girls have persuaded me to go to belly dancing classes!!  I can't believe I said yes, but you have to take the chances that present themselves!   I will let you know how I get on, but be sure, there will be NO PHOTOS!

12 January 2014

2014 FAL the first one

Finish Along 2014
It's 07:30 on Sunday morning and all is quiet at Quiltova towers.  Gordon is still snoozing, and dogs and cats, after their initial bout of "good morning I'm so pleased to see you (dogs) are you going to feed me (cats)"  madness have settled into some gentle snoring and dream rabbit chasing.  I love my Sunday mornings.

This Sunday morning I am contemplating my possible finishes for the first quarter finish along of 2014, hosted this year by Katy.  There are quite a few, but some are very close to being finished, so I should stand a good chance.  The next two months are usually good sewing times for me - the weather is usually cold and snowy, a good excuse to stay in my sewing room.  So far this year though, there is no sign of the cold and the snow.  In fact, I am going outside today to clean some of the windows.  Only some for goodness sake, don't panic

1.  Stitch Tease 2 quilt.  This one is going to get finished come hell or high water.  I got it on the machine yesterday to quilt, and the day went badly.  I tried using variagated thread (again).  Having quilted the centre block, and some of the next round, I decided I really didn't like it, so I spent last night, and no doubt tonight, unpicking it all!   I think it's because of the purple - it stands out like a sore thumb, and if the quilting is less than perfect, which mine definitely is - the purple highlights every mistake.  Back to white or cream for me!

2.  The purple and orange diamonds.   I picked this up yesterday when I'd had enough of the quilting.  I've nearly finished piecing the top

3.  Euro Siblings Together.  I would really like to get this one finished and ready to go before the deadline.  I hate leaving things to the last minute, then rushing them.
 4.  Flower girl quilt.  I have only part cut this one, but my SIL Bridget is coming over for a sewing weekend soon, and we plan to get this one pieced at least.  Then we can toss up for who quilts it.

5 & 6.  I'm not sure if I'm late for last Christmas or early for next, but I have two Christmassy EPP projects than are almost finished and ready to me made into cushions. I had many a happy hour in front of the TV over Christmas sewing these

7.  I think I can list knitting projects too, so I am also determined to finish this cardigan.  I was one ball short to finish it, but that will be winging it's way to me on Monday, so I should get this done.  I have so many unfinished kniting and crochet projects, I should get them out and list them all.  Maybe they would get finished then!

Well that's all I'm going to list.  I have two more projects that I know I won't get finished.  They may make progress, but they won't get finished.

Keep your fingers crossed that I will get this lot done.  And good luck to everyone else with their projects.  Well, I can't put off the windows any longer!

09 January 2014

Really Random Thursday

Really Random

How random can I go?

The most random looking, middle bottom, is actually the least random.  It is the tune from close encounters.  Gordon says it doesn't work! 
His favourite is middle right - not random enough for me! 
I quite like top left and middle left.

Linking up with the other randomeers

08 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced 
I've spent a good deal of time recently working on my Stitch tease quilt.  Not quite as much time as I've spent thinking about it, though! Thanks to everyone who commented on my last Stitch Tease post, offereing opinions about the border.  When you sit at home, with no-one that you can discuss it with, it really does help to have some objective opinions thrown in.   I was torn between a wonky cross border, or wonky crosses with small insets in between.  Then a few people came up with the suggestion that it would look better without any border!  How to confuse a girl.   The jury was almost equally split between the three options, and to be honest, my head said that it would look great without a border at all.   But heads don't always win do they!  I had set my heart on a wonky cross border, and I had already made enough crosses to complete the border with inset panels, so in the end, that's what I went for

Yep, that's just the hectic look I was after!!  Dressing it up rather than toning it down!
I have basted it using  Henna fabric for the backing, which I bought specially for this quilt.  You can just see it poking out below.  I am quite a tactile person, and this fabric is so smooth and silky, I just want to sit stroking it!  Now I have to decide how to quilt it.  I've had a couple of suggestions, but I need to "get to know" the quilt.  I like to leave it lying around, so that I see it and touch it every time I pass.  Or I sit with it on my knee for the evening.  Eventually I come up with a plan that feels right!

In the meatime I am making a bit of progress with those orange and blue diamonds.  
Again thanks to your suggestions, I was able to get away from this layout, which wasn't working, and open my mind up to other possibilites.  I had a light-bulb moment in the early hours of the morning (when normal people sleep, and I should have been), and I think I know where I am going with this one. I am in the process of making another couple  of blocks and I'm keen to get it finished now.   Pray for rain or snow at the weekend!

Linking up with Lee's WIP Wednesday

02 January 2014

Claiming my Q4 2013 FAL's

I listed quite a few projects to finish last quarter, to try and clear out my sewing room a little bit.  I did manage to finish 4 out of the 8, which is good, but not what I'd hoped for.

The list went as follows

1. Happy Go Lucky  -  Tick

2. Vintage Dress Mini quilt - Tick

4. Orange/Blue Mini Quilt. - Fail
5. Love Beads - Fail
6. Stitch Tease Quilt -  progress has been made, but still a fail!
7. Euro Siblings Together - Fail, not even out of the drawer
8.  Mystery Quilt - later revealed as the Giant Chevron - Tick

A quick, to the point  post, and now I'm off to see what I've got for the first quarter FAL of 2014, which is being hosted this year by Katy.

01 January 2014

And so Farewell 2013

It was a good year for us in the main.  We had happy holidays, visits from friends and family, the garden gets better each year, and we were connected to mains sewerage (it doesn't get any better than that. let me tell you!)  We both semi-retired in January, and in spite of this (or maybe because of!) the business continues to do well. 

My semi-retirement means I have had a lot more time to sew, although I still remain one of life's slow sewers

Looking back over the year, here are my favourite photos, month by month


Happy Yummy quilt for my great niece in Australia
Mod Pod made for myeself
The paddy fields of Vietnam
And still it snowed!

Siblings Together
Wild floweres in Lednice Park         


Flowers from my garden

Stitch Tease made for me!
Mr Quiltova and Mr Romance at the FQR in London
Blue Lagoon made for friends Mark and Rose
Circa 1934 for our friend Lenka and her family at Christmas

Happy Go Lucky for our colleagues daughter
Giant Chevron
Santa's little helper
So here's to 2014, may it be a good year for all.