Distraction from the essentials!



Certainly this zip bag was not on my urgent and over long ‘to do’ list prior to our holiday departure. But I just couldn’t resist making something to keep all the sun cream and mosquitos sprays together. The excuse being I do try really hard to be organised when we are away as much of the time I am chivvying 3 teens which is like herding cats! So if I know where the essentials are then I have a fighting chance.

I made a similar bag with a large red Cross on it for first aid supplies last year which worked well and so what was needed was a complementary one for sun and mosquito spray/cream. And yes if I’d had time I’d done a bee motif.

imageI used raw edge appliqué – quick and easy. And crucially everyone got the symbol and know where supplies are kept.


A few days in and it’s working other than of course making sure the sprays and cream  go back in the bag and are not scattered around our accommodation. Putting things away doesn’t appear to be in their skill set on holiday anymore than it is at home!


Hand sewing bag – Bionic Gear Bag no 3

Never would I have thought I’d actually need a bag for hand sewing items but to my surprise I’m really enjoying some slow stitching of Jen Kingwell’s glitter blocks and of course that calls for a new bag.


imageI ummed and ahhed about what type of bag from a simple draw string bag to one of the more complicated types but in the end I came back to my favourite, the Bionic Gear bag. The winning feature for me is the tray at the front which holds all the many bits you need to grab and keeps them from rolling off the table. I chose my current favourite fabrics,  this lovely AGF denim print, inside  a Denyse Scmidt print and the library print from Paperie another AGF fabric




For those of you familiar with the design you will notice that I have reduced the number of zip pockets from four down to two. I wanted a large space for the fabric pieces themselves so I ditched the middle two zip pockets and with a bit of pattern adjusting it came out just fine.


Skye is expanding her skill set is now a bag inspector as well as quilts. Looking for all those pesky threads…

I also reduced the amount of interfacing as I want it to be a squishy bag so it could come travelling without taking up too much space. The plan is this bag and its contents come on a long haul flight to the US for our family holiday. I’m really rather looking forward to the my teenager’s reactions on the plane when they see me get this bag out and start sewing. I would put good money on the phrase ‘soooo embarrassing’ being used!!!

In fact it won’t be the only bionic bag coming along for the ride. Fed up with all the multiple chargers, leads etc etc for all my electronic devices I made a version this time with 5 colour- coordinated zip pockets.  Green for apple, black for my camera, teal for the Fitbit, pink for some external batteries and white for meds. This fabric is another favourite and the horses are spot on as that’s what we will be doing and this time as Mum has more horseback experience than them they won’t be finding her ‘sooo embarrassing’!!


This is first Q3 FAL finish from my target list here and my July One Monthly Goal  with Heidi at Red Letter Quilts.

Linking up with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge TGIFF , Amanda Jane at Crazy Mom Quilts. 

Linking up with Nicky at Mrs Sew and Sow as this is a finish epunder the FAL Q3 2016  and here my list of proposed finishes  






Glitter from scraps

imageI’ve loved the glitter block ever since I first came across it. This classic Jen Kingwell design, from her book Quilt Lovely, is just perfect for scraps.  In fact if you look at the original glitter quilt, which I have shamelessly copied below, I couldn’t begin to imagine how many fabrics are in there and on closer inspection some of them, frankly, are definitely on the ugly end of the scale! But somehow they all work together and it could really be that heirloom quilt.

Jen Kingwell’s quilt not mine – sadly!! What an amazing room to shoot in  image

These blocks are not quick to make. Quite how the very busy and talented Jen Kingwell manages to do all this and all the other quilts she makes in addition to writing books, running a quilting business, designing fabrics  and appearing at every major quilt show is quite beyond me. Maybe, and I could fully appreciate this,  she involves friends. Or she’s discovered how to survive without sleep.  Admittedly I’m new to hand sewing and this type of cutting out, marking the seamlines and then putting it all together again, but I guess each one takes comfortably over an hour. And of course that assumes, unlike the block below, that I don’t keep needing to re-do seams!  As you can see the bottom left hand corner looks a little drunk!


My glitter blocks are from a whole bunch of ‘warm’ coloured scraps left over from one of my many WIPs. I wanted a project that I could do sitting in the lounge with the children and it’s perfect for that and the #Saturday Night Craft Along on IG which is hosted by Lucy of Charm About You here in the UK, Rachel of Barefoot Crafter in Aus and Meg at Myteaandbrie in the US. How wonderful it would be to have the time to craft a-along through all the time zones!

Linking up with Mrs Sew and Sow for Scraptastic Tuesday 

Finish along – Quarter 3

Quick Q2 recap

Looking  back to start with at my FAL Q2 finishes I managed 3 out of 6. Not great but in fact I did lots of other projects over the quarter that weren’t even a twinkle in my eye at the time I drew up my list for Q2. This is because I’m utterly selfish with my sewing – I do what I want to do!! After all in the rest of my life that rule rarely applies, children have to be fed, clothes washed, things, so many things, put away, emails to write, meetings to attend etc etc… So when it’s my hobby I want to do what inspires me rather than what I have to do so not everything gets finished…or at least on time.



The finishes for Q2 have been blogged here, here and here.

Q3 – what next.

These are some projects that I hope to achieve over the next 3 months but if my eye wanders forgive me!

1. A scrap quilt using a vast number of neutral scraps and playing with the drunkards path design. Quite a way to go.



2. Easy peasy one that just needs the binding and then off to Project Linus. All scraps.



3. Next up a long standing improv WIP started a few months back. I would say half of the piecing is done just needs to be pulled together.


4. Another bionic bag (or similar) for hand stitching supplies.  Maybe these fabrics.


5.  This is a long standing scrap project but needs doing and probably off to Siblings Together.




6. Now this one is urgent. My next challenge quilt. Needs to be done for the Festival of Quilts. No, it’s not been selected to be shown there, I’ve not been brave enough to enter anything, but I’m handing it in at the Quilters Guild stand to be shown with others from the Quilter Guild modern group at a show in Bristol.


7. This is a jelly roll of the lovely Violette by Free Spirit.   I’d love to make a quilt with this but this just may have to remain a twinkle in my eye…




8.  And finally it would be wonderful to get this Urban Candy quilt done having used the Quick Curve Ruler. This is all for me in my newly decorated bedroom.

Bird’s eye view


Believe it or not the above motif on this mini quilt is the interchange of two major motorways in the UK, the M4 and the M5 near Bristol. In fact when you are in the thick of this junction it looks chaotic as the motorways are stacked four high at one point but from a bird’s eye view it’s a very different picture. Road planners obviously have a soul!!

The annual challenge this year set by the modern quilt group of the UK Quilters’ Guild is to make a 20″ by 20″ mini quilt on the theme ‘black and white plus one other (colour)’. Such a great theme as who doesn’t have white and black in their stash and frankly every colour in the rainbow and we were given complete creative freedom – perfect. The only constraint being size because they all get hung together at quilt shows.



Anyway back to the quilt, I noticed this beautiful design  as I was driving up from the south west of England I saw this wonderful shape on my sat nav display. As I had been toying with the idea of bias tape appliqué this fitted the bill completely. I’ve also been attending a six month FMQ course so I wanted plenty of negative space to play.  And as you can see play I did! As did Minty who found a new use for quilt clips as a cat toy!



I learnt that making bias tape was a bit tricksy but doable. Preferred the Clover brand of tape maker.  I just glued them into position then sewed down the sides – quick and easy. The quilting took the time but was great fun.  I got a bit cocky by this stage and decided to FMQ lines freehand in the background to give it a sort of corduroy  look. Despite marking I just couldn’t get them as precise as I wanted. You can see here that the gaps are irregular and to me really jarred with the relative precision of the bias tape. It looked even worse than this picture!


I couldn’t live with it but what to do? It struck me that as it was an appliqué piece I could just unpick the outer edges of the motif, close cut the background fabric then re appliqué to a new background piece. I then had the thought that if I quilted it before I appliquéd the motif than the background lines would look continuous. Well it worked and having put on the hanging sleeve this week it’s ready to be sent off.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and TGIFF this week with Shelley at the Carpenters Daughter that Quilts.


One Monthly Goal for July


No it’s not to finish my Glitter quilt, a wonderful design by Jen Kingwell. I’ve only just started and the current plan is to make enough to make a lap quilt. I think that means up to 70 -90 blocks so it’s more of a One Decade Goal!!  But I wanted a hand stitching project which would enable me to be with the family rather than tucked away in the sewing room. Weekend evenings are often film/netflix nights but the sort of movies or tv programmes the children favour really don’t float my boat so having a distraction keeps me sane.

It also gives me a chance to join in the fun of #saturdaynightcraftalong on IG hosted in the UK by Lucy of Charmaboutyou , but also hosted at the relevant time in both the US and Australia.  You can share progress on IG on what you are making so do join in, the more the merrier.

I’ve loved this Glitter block design from the start and recently got the book which included the design as part of my purchases under May is for Makers. So what’s my one monthly goal  well it’s to make a zipped bag to hold all of my hand stitching supplies. This is for the initiative set up by Heidi of Red Letter Quilts to get us quilters focused.

I’m thinking of a slimmer version of the bionic bag.  I love the tray it makes at the front but I probably won’t need as many pockets.  This is the one I made for my sewing supplies which replaced my sew together bag which I liked but didn’t have as much space as I needed and is absolutely indispensable.

imageimage I made another bionic bag for all my chargers but this time with see through zip pockets because I am forever leaving chargers behind.


So to fabric choices. Not sure yet and of course that’s half the fun. I bought these recently and they may feature. Just need to make up my mind oh and then make it!!


Drawing with thread

There are some wonderful examples of thread painting out there. Almost indistinguishable from photos. This example from Renee of Quilts of a Feather is a stunning example.  But of course aside from artistic skill and copious quantities of thread it takes hours and hours…..But I took a short cut. Yes it is drawing with thread but takes minutes and can be very effective, not in a painterly way but still for the right project very impactful.

imageHaving seen and admired the work of Janet Clare on a whole host of fronts from the author of quilt books, fabric designer and quilt maker she gives classes on drawing with your sewing machine. So when I found out she was coming to Guthrie and Ghani in Birmingham not too far away from me to take a class I signed up…

Its really controlled FMQ but making a recognised shape or picture. Preferably all in one continuous line. Like all good teachers Janet was encouraging and supportive with an air that we’d soon all be good at it. And much to my amazement, given that the group of us ranged from a complete novice to semi professional, by the end you’d be hard pushed to distinguish the difference.

During the class I was on a mission with a very specific objective. A dear friend’s 50th party was that night and I wanted to make a birthday card using a drawing of her West Highland Terrier. I had managed to get some covert photos and then using an app that converts the picture into a sketch got some ideas for the basic outline. With Janet’s artistic eye, sadly not an attribute I have, she made some suggestions and I was really rather pleased with the final result and my friend loved it.




This was one of my Finish Along targets for Q2 #2016FAL