Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hurry - Last Chance

This is your last chance to win a slice of the action.

English Patchwork and Quilting magazine are offering this fabulous prize to win a stitching break at my friend Kate's Come 2 Quilt sewing retreat. All you need is a copy of the magazine and the special code and you can enter online to try your luck at winning this prize. You will need to get to Taunton under your own steam but once you are there you will be treated like quilting royalty. The competition close on the 31st July so hurry, hurry, hurry. If you win then I promise to come and sew with you.

The giant pizza is being made by Kate.

Good luck.

Love Shirley.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Drunkard's Path

I promised Kate that I would try and finish something for her forthcoming exhibition in September at Come 2 Quilt. The big decision was which box to open first (oh there are so many) or, more to the point, which project would be more easily achieved. I eventually decided on a drunkard's path project. Drunkard's Path is my all time favourite block. It fascinates me. There are so many variations and so many names for the same block. This design came from McCalls Spring Edition 2007?!!!! I know. I know.

After a bit of unpicking, some blocks had been sewn the wrong way round and therefore abandoned with lost hope. It didn't take long to put it right and all blocks were stitched together and borders made. This quilt is for Sarah and Olly. Sarah asked if it could be made a bit bigger and I am in the process of adding another row. The blocks are 14". Sometime this week I have to make the really big decision on how to quilt it. I think I have a plan.

Being me means that I save the scraps. Someone said to me that the way I made my drunkard's path blocks wasted fabric and so to prove a point that with a bit of careful thinking it doesn't. I make my blocks using a method of paper piecing. You cut out two squares of fabric and lay a paper template over the top and tack through the layers just above and below the curves, then you cut away the top layer to reveal the curve underneath. Now this is the really clever bit, with a pin/needle you turn under the curved edge just 1/8" and stitch the edge down. Remove the paper and trim the back. It may sound like a complicated way of stitching this block but believe you me it works brilliantly and is so easy. Does any one else do it this way? I also have a plan to use the spare curves that were cut away.

Back to the scraps.

This little pile of cut out corners were put right sides together
and trimmed on a 45 degree angle. Being a big block there were decent sized angles to play with.

As you can see, the only wastage are those really thin straggly bits and they can go in the doggy cushions.

All those scraps have now become this .... ta da! A cushion top to go with the quilt.
The unusual setting happened by accident as I sewed the rows on the wrong way round and I decided that I liked it so it stayed put. I haven't measured it but it is about 15".

This week has been quite productive and I have also completed block 12 of Camelot.
That means now just 4 more to go.

Valentina has put together all her blocks and it looks fab. Do go over and check it out and also leave her a get well message. She has been very ill but is thankfully on the mend.

The 12 blocks together.

Hope you stayed this far and if you did enjoy your sewing.

Love Shirley.x

Friday, 15 July 2011

Hurrah! A finish.

It isn't exactly a quilt but a finish is a finish nonetheless and my sewing room in now fully painted, curtained, everything in it's place and fully functioning. It seems a pity to get in there and mess it up. I just go in there to sigh and think how lovely it is.

On Wednesday I met with Sue from I Sew Quilts. I was lucky enough to win this beautiful book by Clare Kingslake as a giveaway and as Sue was visiting friends near to where I live we met at the garden centre for a cup of tea. We were so busy talking that neither of us even thought to mark the occasion with a photograph. I already have my eye on several projects. Sue also gave me a copy of a book by her friend Orlando Murrin which has some delightful photographs and yummy recipes. Thank you all for your kindness and generosity.

Last year I fell in love with this quilt on the cover of Country Homes and Interiors. I thought that the blocks looked quite large and as it is a well known block, drafted my own at 15" and here is block 1. Won't need so many of these to make something lap size. Nice and easy and so satisfying.

My mum used to read Woman's Weekly magazine and I buy it myself now and again. My friend thinks it is so old fashioned but I don't think so. Well, they are in for a challenge and to mark their 100th birthday they are asking readers to knit a pennant in order to break a world record for the longest knitted bunting. I have made my effort. The closing date is September 19th if anyone is interested. The pattern was in the craft special that is currently on sale.

I have been doing some cleaning( yes, I know but it had to be done) and cleaning should come with a health warning. As I have sciatica again and a blocked nose the moral is housework is a pain in the bottom and don't move the dust.

Happy stitching.

Love Shirley.x

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A Farmer's Wife and Daughter

It has been a long time since I made any blocks for The Farmer's Wife quilt and as you can see I managed to make block 11 - Broken Dishes. It seemed a good opportunity to tell you a little story that is interesting and appropriate for this quilt.

Last year at my mum's flat I came across this diary. Mum said that she bought it at a book sale at Keele University some years ago and that she bought it because it was of local interest. I didn't get to tell her all that I found out. My sister in Law Sandra is also interested in geneaology and she did a lot of research for me.

The diary belongs to Anne Burnett Hambleton and is dated 1883. She was born in 1865 the daughter of a well off farming family. By looking through geneaology web sites discovered that she married her cousin Arthur Hambleton, also a farmer. They were a well known and prosperous family from the Butterton area of Leek, Staffordshire. We also learn that they married in London in 1889. We wonder why. They went on to have at least two children.

The diary cost 1 shilling and could have been a Christmas present. The writing sometimes is difficult to read, sometimes written in ink and much neater and other times in pencil and scribbled. It has some interesting entries and things that we take so much for granted.

It appears in the diary that Anne lived with an Uncle and at this point we don't know why, but this house was quite large as it had a billiard room. She mentions that she had a wash in the newly installed bath and that she had her head washed as opposed to a hair wash and that she was allowed to wear her hair up for dinner. Her Uncle had promised her "some pretty , gold things" for her next birthday. Imagine her excitement at watching a magic lantern show for the first time. Here we are with all our technology and I am able to tell you all this and I wonder what she would have made of it.

Most of the entries in the diary tell of her studies assuming at this point that she is still a student. Anne went away to school and was living in Birkdale, Lancashire in 1881. We know that she was musical and sang in recital's at the town hall. She tells of receiving 3 valentine's cards, 2 of which she thinks came from male family members, the other is a mystery beau. I also think from the diary that she may have had a crush on someone as she mentions him only by initials and mostly she saw him at church. She also tells of paying 7/6d for a pair of shoes. A princely sum of money. I think she also had a little streak of mischief as she tells of being told off for mocking a teacher.

The burning question for me is, did she meet William Morris? She certainly moved in such society and William Morris was a frequent visitor to the area. Still a lot more to find out. They have a lot of family papers in the vaults at the local museum so, if and when I find out anymore, I shall let you know.

This means that I now have a plan for my Farmer's wife blocks and I shall dedicate it to Anne Burnett Hambleton - A Farmer's Wife and Daughter.

Happy Stitching

Love Shirley.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Birthday Treats

Monday 4th July was my 52nd birthday. I had a lovely day with some nice gifts and a trip out to Becca's Quilt Emporium with Sarah.

Some people get cakes. This mum was given a very pretty tiered cake stand. Can you see cakes?!!! No! Not even an oatcake. Look again. Yes, they are potatoes. Dug up fresh from Olly's veggie patch. Thanks Olly, I appreciate the effort that went into growing and picking. I also had some lovely bath products which have been used and are divine. My favourite perfume, necklace and a lovely little cushion from Rachel.

My birthday treats from the Wednesday girls was a surprise. I had a hospital visit with Rachel last week (all is well) and I went to sewing later and so completely forgot about a birthday celebration. I was spoiled and thank you ladies, you are all such lovely, thoughtful people and you make me laugh.

The cup and teapot were from Wendy along with some lovely vintage buttons and some ribbon. Pat gave me the lovely bundle of fabrics and thread. Margaret gave me the wooden spoon and a pattern for the lovely cupcake wallhanging. You Aussies may recognise the beautiful hand towel as it came from a shop in Melbourne and came home with Rosemary. They also gave me some other fabrics and buttons. Yummy muffins baked by Wendy for us all to share. Kate gave me some bath oil and said that she was making me something but hadn't finished it yet.

Yesterday Kate gave me my present. It was a most lovely surprise and thoughtful present Kate and it is perfect for my sewing room. You will have to click and enlarge to appreciate it in full. I have not decided yet where it will eventually live but it definitely marks out that room as my territory now. Still tidyish shelves but things are creeping in on the tops of books rather than being put away.

My husband gave a beautiful orchid. I hope I will be able to keep it going. I am not known for my green fingers.

I have done a little bit of sewing just in case you were thinking that I have given up. This could become an addiction. Simply take one charm pack, make a card template, cut out a circle and turn a small hem and gather the thread. Fasten off. It looks like a littel mob cap. You need to tweak it a little to flatten the shape and distribute the fullness. When the pattern tells you to use quilting thread they tell you for a reason. I used ordinary thread and it broke when I gathered the first one. Quilting thread - much better. I have a few ideas for these little beauties. You will have to wait and see.

Happy Stitching.

Love Shirley.x