Bee block for March Siblings Together Bee 7

01FB6A89-91E2-4150-862D-E6B99E09CCEBJust a quick disclaimer to start with. I know it does get confusing for those who follow me on my blog and who are in other Bees but not the Bee for whom the design is intended. Trust me it confuses me as well!!    So to be clear this is just for members of Bee 7.  Obviously if somebody else wants to jump in and add to these blocks I’m not going to stop them after all any block for  Siblings Together is another step towards another quilt .

So dear members of Bee 7 here is your block for March. Frankly it’s a bit of a mash up of a number of blocks but I want this quilt  to be simple and  graphic but not just plain squares.

In terms of colour choice, on the basis that blue/green quilts tend to be the ones that are very popular with this age group I would like you to use any solid or ‘reads as’ solid in those colours. And because I know that many of you agonise over your fabric choices I’ve put some here that I think would be fab and others on the left where maybe it’s too much white and not enough colour.

B2E817DC-9723-45D1-813C-32B82B972E9CFurthermore for the colour element of this block you will need the best part of a fat quarter.

For the secondary colour can you please choose again something bright white, certainly not tan or cream but there could be a light pattern on it but I’d like a good contrast with the background colour.

Hopefully that helps and  I don’t come across too bossily!

So to how to make the block and given it’s a large one I only one block per Bee member  please.

you will need from the coloured fabric

2 x 17.5” by 4.5”

2 x 9” by 4.5”

4 x 2.5” by 2.5”

And then from the neutral

2 x 5.25”  by 5.25” square

Cut each square diagonally making 2 triangles per square and 4 in total from both squares

5 x 2.5” by 2.5”  squares


Use a scant 1/4” throughout.

Using the 2.5” squares make up a checkered square as below.  Please trim to 6.5” square.


Now sew the white corners on this checkered block thus.


Trim this block to 9” square and then add the coloured borders on as follows


Now do a final trim to 16.5” square. I know these larger sizes are tricky to size so feel free to leave the last trimming as I have a 16.5” square ruler for this.  I’ve allowed some wriggle room here so the actual square will be closer to 17”. This is because I find the bigger the block the greater the margin error! That might just be me!

I hope that is clear. Any problems please let me know.

Dressmaking Adventures

x Jenn S Nowood Hill copyI once made a good chunk of my clothes. This was in the heady days in the 70’s when fast fashion and cheap imported clothing had yet to hit the UK. It was also what many women did to extend their range of clothing and it was genuinely cheaper than buying.  As a consequence a fabric shop and full haberdashery was typically found on most UK high streets. I even made my first work wardrobe when I started at a big UK corporate as a graduate trainee. Now that would certainly not happen today.

Although I wasn’t especially talented I had a mother who was and with her help the clothes generally fitted well. I only wish I had more pictures of what I made….. but the picture above survives and shows me wearing a blouse made from a perfect ‘made to fit’ pattern drafted by my Mum with even variant collars so I could ring the changes. Paired, of course, with the ubiquitous flared jeans c 1976?

As an aside please forgive the very non pc name of our cat back in the 70’s.  It could be worse. In the same batch of photos my Dad had compiled having  digitalised and labelled old prints/negatives was one of his childhood pet dog.  This dog was also black but his name started with an N…. I was genuinely shocked! My parents assured me that this was a completely normal colour reference in the 30’s and even my mother’s rather genteel girls school had n… brown as the colour on their uniform list. How times, mercifully, have changed….

Well inspired by bloggers like Kate I’ve been tempted to get back in the saddle and I signed up for the kimono class that Kerry did at the recent Threadhouse retreat.


Its a pattern by Sew Over It and a great choice for an open class, simple (only 4 pieces) and  fits any size. I chose to get it printed rather than construct it from A4 PDF sheets but at £10 I might try cutting and pasting next time. Bella is helpfully holding the pieces down. I cut out the medium pattern size which worked out fine. 


It needs a flowing fabric so that was a bit trickier than cotton us quilters are more used to but all, under the expert eye of Kerry and masses of pins, very doable. But I was a bit taken back by the price of viscose fabric. Branded would cost around £16 per metre and I needed 2.5m for the longer version. It was a far cry from the £2/3 cost of fabric to make the blouse in the picture above from the 70’s. Ok some 40 years have elapsed but with the help of Google on average there has been a four fold increase in prices since then so on that basis today it would still only cost me £8-£12. In fact not wanting to waste money on something which was experimental I only spent £15 on some drapey viscose which looked and felt fine.


We were advised to wash the fabric first but I forgot…..but I did cut it out at home using our island unit and a rotary cutter and cutting board  which proved quick and easy and it was certainly easier than cutting it out with scissors on the old dining room table at home.


The class was great fun, mostly seeing everyone’s else’s creations and fabric choices. Kerry got us to sew French seams which worked beautifully other than I  had a real mental barrier about sewing wrong sides together and had to unpick more than I should have done.


We had 3 hours which for an experienced sewer would be ample but it took most of us longer but as you can see it got finished and I really like it. It skims more than clings which is good for me. I chose to curve the front rather than leaving it straight as it looked a bit like a house or lab coat! It’s too cold at the moment to wear it but on a nice day where a cover up is needed this will be perfect.


I might even make another and I may even splash out more £ on the fabric or go sheer….. maybe even something braver inspired by the wonderful Great British Sewing Bee on BBC now which is similar to the Great British Bake Off in concept but so much more visual and fun….I shan’t be applying for the next season though.





Smorgasbord quilt – February block for Siblings Together Bee 2

E85641C2-B9B8-4C9B-9F88-9590883D7ACEDo not be alarmed dear Bee member, the block above is not the one I’m asking you to make. I know this Bee is chockful of very talented and experienced quilters able to make this block its just it takes a lot of time and these Bees are about doing something fun, reasonably quick and fulfilling.  And preferably using scraps….

So my plan this month is to use the foundation pieced block above as the centre of a medallion quilt. Raiding my spare blocks project bag recently I found quite a few spare blocks that had been made for other quilts where  I had just made too many.  It then struck me it would be fun, with your help, to do another medallion quilt similar to this one I made from left over blocks from a couple of Bees.


Bee Blocks for February


Ok scene set; I’d like the following blocks, a smorgasbord of shapes/designs….. but mostly a square in a square.

I would like you to make 2 square in square blocks at unfinished 4.5″ size and 2 square in square blocks at unfinished 8.5″ size.  Then a strip block 6″ by 12″ with strips any size but no bigger than 4″. 


The colours of the squares in the square need to be any blue or any green and the neutrals light grey/white/print or solid (but no tan or cream).

The strip block needs to be made of any blue or green fabric. 

No fabrics please overtly childish or flowery. 

Square in Sqare blocks

There are many methods and use the one you are familar with but  I saw on Stitched in Color, one of my favourite blogs, a new to me method which I’d  not come across before but I found really useful from this Hydde Ann’s blog.

Please follow the instructions given in the above link  for the 4.5″ unfinished block but I didn’t bother to cut the coloured square from the fabric diagonally.  For the 8.5″ unfinished block the corresponding sizes are from the coloured fabric cut 1 x 6 1/8″ square and from the neutrals cut a 2 x 5″ square. With the two 5″ squares cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.

Don’t forget please to trim the blocks to 4.5″/8.5″.  Do not worry if they are not perfect. As I’ve said  before perfection is overrated!

Here are  some pictures to make it clearer.



Strip block

For the strip block just sew together any green or blue strips of any width up to a maximum of 4″ and then cut to 6″ by 12″ as the picture below. If it’s wonky like mine that’s fine



As always if there are any problems please let me know


2019 – what next

I like to have some sort of a plan for quilting if not, sadly, for anything else! It gives  me some idea of what I want to do and where the priorities lie at least at this point in time. It’s interesting to look back at last year‘s plan and have a laugh at what you thought you’d achieve!

My actual review for 2018 is here but recalling what I’d hoped to do in the year set out at the end of this post and its a mix of success and failure.

I did get to finish a number of quilts for Siblings Together, there is a lovely flannel backed quilt under which  I sit in our lounge which has become a family favourite and I did get to make a baby quilt for a friend but I think only 4 glitter blocks were added to the pile and no entry to the Festival of Quilts.




So to this year in broad terms….

1) Yes I’d like to keep on with my glitter quilt. I’m going to have a go at sewing them. Yes I know handsewn blocks and machined blocks may well look different to the trained eye but mine is so not trained…


2) Lots more quilts for Siblings Together. I’ve stepped back from making monthly blocks for a couple of the bees and only make for 2 now but as we are very short of quilt makers I do that for a number of bees.

3) I don’t think I’ve ever made a solids only quilt. I may try that this year.

4) keep on top of my scraps. My large scrap drawer is bulging….I’m wondering about a drunken path quilt…..


5) I must do my son’s 21 st birthday quilt before he is 22!

6) Try to be really disciplined about keeping the sewing room tidy and the process more organised and less messy. I tend to leap in and start cutting when I haven’t cleared away the previous project.

As to immediate plans these are my Q1 targets

1. Assemble and finish off these blocks for Siblings Together there are a rather scary 7 quilts to assemble and quilt and 1 top that needs quilting



2. Quilt a top for Kate, another ST quilt. a beautiful strong design quilt perfect for an older boy.  Watch this space…

3. Do something with all the scraps in the picture above before the drawer breaks literally. It’s an old Victorian pine chest….

4. Experiment with sewing glitter blocks. I still love the design.

5. Don’t enter Festival of Quilts.  It’s GSCE year for the twins. The summer will be fraught enough!

6.There are a couple of items of secret sewing for friends.


Well before we slip into February I better get this post off.


Linking up with a great idea to encourage blogging with Helen at Archie the Wonderdog for some furtling…..

Nebbits and cat problems


When I had an HR job in a factory many years ago, a sick note came in from a rather wiley shop steward with the reason for his sickness absence as  ‘Nebbits’.

Now no one could ever have describe this guy as a new age man and he made it very clear that having to deal with a woman in negotiations etc. was very demeaning and was  just against the proper order of things. So I knew that this was his way of throwing the gauntlet down and the very last thing I was going to do was ask him what nebbits meant.

I rang the site medical department. These were the days of huge industrial sites employing many thousands that had fully equipped medical facilities with doctors and nurses at hand. But despite their undoubted expertise they’d never heard of the condition. I checked with my team and rang other HR people but I continuously drew a blank and then determined to crack it, it struck me –  nebbits was short for  nether bits in other words rear end problems. Well poor Felix, our grey Tonkinese cat, had similar trouble and proceeded to lick the offending region, which I’m quite sure my shop steward couldn’t have done,  to such an extent that that region became quite bald of hair.  As a consequence Felix, aside from a course of pills, pain killers and a probiotic, had to wear the dreaded cone of shame. Does this picture remind anyone else of the handmaidens in The Handmaids Tale?




I’d made Skye a fabric cone when she was spayed a few years back using the cheap plastic cone she was given by the vet as a template. She didn’t like it but it worked and must have been more comfy. I tried that one on Felix but it was way too small. So it was just a case of making a new one and just extending the pattern to make it longer.  I used headliner as wadding to give it more structure. Then to secure it I added some buttonholes.

Now my machine does beautiful automatic button holes but it failed here. The extra thickness meant that the automatic buttonhole foot couldn’t cope so I made some pretty rough and ready ones just using a zig zag stitch. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone  to have a close look at the sewing but it worked a treat.

But it never rains but it pours because Bella having been spayed also had to wear a cone to stop her licking her wounds. But of course she fits Skye’s cone perfectly. I can’t work out whether she looks cross  because of the after-effects of the anaesthetic or she’s just cheesed off with the cone, I suspect the latter!


But cross or not it does look comfy here doesn’t it


In fact because of complications with the operation she had to wear the cone for 10 days poor thing.

If you have pets and want to make something similar then using a plastic cone as a template or make a cardboard version just to check the size, it’s really easy. I used the earlier cone I’d made.


I just cut out a 2 pieces of fabric preferably something soft like flannel or fleece then a third piece as the wadding, chose the stiffest you have. Rather like a bag it needs to have some substance otherwise it will just drape over the head rather like a headscarf.


Sew round the outer edges leaving the neck unsewn so you can turn it out. With fleece in fact I left the outer curve unsewn and just oversewed the outer curve as you can see above.

For Felix’s flannel one I now had an open edge.  I guess you could hand sew this closed but I used shop bought bias binding.  I didn’t worry that it was all a bit rough and ready and the binding, because of the sharpish curve, was a bit twisty.  Needs must, but careful hand sewing might have given a neater finish. On the other hand I like the two tone finish it gives.

And then the need to secure it to your pet.  We found attaching it to a collar helped so I added a three straps to hold the collar. They need to big enough to allow the buckle to thread through.


And then the button holes. You can use safety pins although that would worry me and occasionally the cone has to come off as eating can sometimes be a challenge. Velcro strips can also work and that’s what I did on the fleece kitten version but with an adult cat or dog who will be stronger and more agile something stronger is needed. Well that’s been my experience.


You can of course buy soft pet cones and I suspect they are very good but if you have the supplies and you like making things for the people and pets in your life then this can work very well.

I’d like to think my cats were grateful but I fear not….




Siblings Together Bee 4 – January block, clean and cool


Happy New Year everyone and so sorry this is a day late. I thought I’d checked all my Mama commitments for January but this slipped through….

Anyway this  is a block I’ve wanted to play with for a while. It’s been sitting in my Pinterest quilt pictures for a few months and it always struck me as a great design for an older teen boy provided the colours were kept cool and clean. So in effect I have minimised the colours and kept it to a very restricted palette  and mixed in lots of greys and whites.

Do feel free to play with the contrast between the two fabrics  in each block. You can see from examples in the top picture in one I’ve gone for minimal contrast in others fairly strong contrast.

In terms of that restricted palette…. just dark, medium or light grey, white, they can be prints or solids. If you do want to mix in a bit of colour as I have done then can you please keep to yellowy greens. The colour of the fabric in the block I’ve made is an olive.  Knowing how subjective colours are I’ve put a picture below showing on the left bluey greens that  I definitely don’t want and over on the right yellowy greens that I do. In the bottom picture I’ve even put a muddy gold colour  which I think works well.



It is the simplest of blocks, but certainly when road testing designs  with my teens  they like very simple graphic  designs  more than complex blocks ! Well if you are like me trying to restore the house to some sort of normality after Christmas then simple is good….

Anyway for each block you will need

4 rectangles   5.5” by 4” in one fabric

4 rectangles 5.5” by 4” in another fabric.

Arrange in a chequerboard fashion and sew together with a scant 1/4” seam.


You should end up with a block 14.5” by 10.5” . Please trim to this size

Any problems or concerns please get in touch.

Many thanks

Review of 2018

Its that time of year to look back given the watershed that a New Year presents. I’m joining Cheryl for the Best of 2018 linky party for her annual link up of a review of the year and will grapple with the future in another post.

It’s been a year of two halves sewing wise.  First year pretty full on, second half rather arid.  Through circumstance and the vagaries of life sewing got pushed to the back burner in the summer. And once on the back burner I found it hard to bring it to the fore with time and brain deficiencies!

Looking backwards, and I hope Cheryl doesn’t mind but I’m not just going to focus on the best as I like to be a bit more retrospective so I will be looking at the good, the bad and the ugly. Lets start with the Good.

The Good

1.My favourite finish

I’ve chosen two.


This one above I love because of the colours and while I suppose it’s my own design in reality I made it up as I went along. Yes I did start with some graph paper and realised that for a medallion quilt multiples of 3 worked well but as to the rest it was a bit of a gamble but it paid off and this one will be heading to Siblings Together. Most of the corner and centre blocks were made by ST bee members.


The next one is the table topper I made my Mum for her birthday. I saw it in place when we were down at their’s for Christmas and I have to say it looked very good.

2. The blog post with the most comments


This post with a Royal title I’m guessing  might have been the key here. Perhaps it attracted more viewers? Anyway lots of insightful comments and again much interest in the design. This is the third quilt I have made using the block from the free quilt design Fieldcrossing by Elizabeth Olwen – more details in the post.

3. The post with the most views


I suspect it was the hint of wickedness in the title of this post.  It reminds me of trying to get the attention of our in-house lawyer on a particularly boring share plan question. After many emails, which he completely ignored, I sent one with ‘Sex Scandal’ in the title of the email and he answered it  instantly!

4. My most useful make



After yet another request to look into my bags at airport security this was made. Mind you it’s  yet to be tested. I may just get stopped because I look dodgy.

5. The quilt my family like the best


This lives in our lounge and being large, backed with flannel its a favourite with all of us as I am forever having to refold it.  Obviously re-folding is a skill my children have yet to learn.


The Bad

6. My greatest failure


This was the triple pouch from Aneela Hooey’s book Stitched Sewing Organisers. Don’t let me put you off the book, it’s excellent but this one defeated me.  Yes it got finished but I had to hand sew a raw edge and discovered a fourth pocket, which apparently wasn’t a mistake. It takes masses of material and is useful but, and its a pet hate with me, not all the pouches are  secured with a zip so things can slip out.

The Ugly

7. My least favourite quilt.


This is a good example of both the highs and lows of quilting.  I loved the experimentation and in many ways I liked the final top but dislike the quilting which is underwhelming. Now I could add more quilting lines but I used a variegated thread which on the plain fabric looks like it’s  marked or stained! I could unpick it but can’t be bothered and I’m not sure I like that strong blue colour anyway.  But on the plus side I learned loads but I wish I knew what to do with it!

8. The quilts I would have like to have made

And finally a tribute to two very prolific, talented and inspirational quilters whose originality and creativity have produced these beauties which are deservedly heading off to QuiltCon, the juried modern quilt show. They each have multiple entries but these are my favourites.  Eclat by Sophie of Luna Quilts, is simply stunning it was at the UK Festival of Quilts this year and Geometry by Jayne of Twiggy and Opal, beautiful, clever and entirely made in solids which I find a challenge.  I can’t recommend their blogs enough.


I’m back to sewing which sounds vaguely like a threat. But with a month of being limited in what I can do because of eye surgery and then the frantic run up to and then post Christmas switch off I’m determined to crack on and a baby quilt is on its way for a prem baby born just before Christmas. I will give some though to what next….









Birthday present


When I started out quilting a few years ago or so my mum, although fully supporting my new hobby and indeed a very experienced dressmaker and talented sewist herself, made it clear that she herself wasn’t that fond of quilts and that I shouldn’t go to the effort of making one for her. Personally I think this sort of clear upfront statement would solve a lot of family angst!! By contrast my dear late mother-in-law, was always saying, when asked her opinion, she didn’t mind and you were left never really sure what she wanted!  So I was a bit surprised when mum asked for a mini quilt mat to put on her side table in the lounge. I was free to choose the design and the only stipulation was the colours should blend with their white/grey/muted green decor.

With the time I have more limited at the moment for quilting, a mini quilt was perfect, something to get my teeth into but it wasn’t going to be too pressurising. And of course colours aside I could choose what I wanted to do and the top of the side table was a very convenient 12.5” square.


Mum had admired a paper pieced star designed by Esther  I’d done way back and I settled on that but I then remembered it would need to lie flat and with all those seams coming into the centre it is hard to avoid a bit of a lump. A lump that may just tip over a cup of tea. So with that in mind I chose a design from Quilter’s Cache where the centre point had minimal  seams.


Next to fabric choice. I settled on a variety of toning fabrics to suit their decor  and then copied someone’s idea to photocopy the sections with the fabric swatches glued on to ensure the fabrics  were correctly positioned

I used headliner as wadding as it gives the quilt more substance and makes it less floppy. Floppy is good for quilts but less good when you really want a sturdy fabric mat.

As you can see it’s now in pride of place and being put to good use.


As an aside another birthday request was a second quilt for my 21 year old. This will take much longer to pull together as there are a number of Siblings Together quilts much higher up the queue, but I thought I would  present him with a selection of fabrics for him to pick the ones he liked the most. A family friend who dropped round with a card and present, looking at the modest stack of fabrics, marvelled at ‘how much fabric I’d got.’  I had to smile, little does she know…..




Siblings Together Bee 7 – November block Warming up for Winter


This is the Bee block for November. It’s a lovely simple block and one of those blocks that looks so much better when in a crowd of blocks. I was inspired by Carole of @therunninghare who made a quilt around the time I was first starting out in 2015, and I just loved it. I thought it looked really complicated and way beyond me. If you look on her Instagram feed around that time you’ll see it, I think it’s called a quilt for Eleri. Carol choose to make hers  in a mixture of greens and blues.

But with this being made on Halloween evening (going to the wire!)  I’ve gone for these warm peach and deep orange colours.  For this quilt I’d like similarly warm colours taken from the colour wheel below where the arrows are. It can be a solid or a print and the neutral can be any low volume. I’d prefer just two warm coloured fabrics per block. So one print/solid for the half square triangle and one for the cross.


For one block and I’d like two please…

Low volume/neutral fabric
Two warm coloured fabrics either print or solid like mustard, orange, red, warm yellow, etc which contrast with each other

To make 4 HSTs
2 times 5” squares of the first warm coloured fabric
2 times 5” squares of a neutral/low volume fabric

For the central cross
2 times 4.5” squares of the second  warm coloured fabric
1 times 4.5” by 12.5” of the second warm coloured fabric

Scant 1/4” seam throughout

Use whatever method you prefer for making unfinished 4 1/2 inch HSTs. The sizes above assume you pair low volume with a coloured fabric and sew two lines down the centre line and cut. As per the picture below. I’m sure if you try really hard you’ll be able to have wobbly lines like me!


Now sew the block together as in the picture below.


It really is as easy as that! As you can see I was a bit lazy and made enough HSTs for two blocks but don’t feel you have to do that.

I had company tonight. Forgive the night time pictures but Bella is growing. She dutifully welcomed the Halloween tricksters and went down a storm with them.


Bella’s quilt

img_1549This was not meant to happen. I have resisted having a third cat for some time, I didn’t want more work, more worry when we can’t find them and generally the view that two  is really enough. But I hadn’t taken into account pester power, and as a mother of three I really should have.

My daughter and I had gone to see a friend with kittens, all sold, but I knew it would ramp up the request for a third. They offered to set aside a kitten out of their next litter due next summer – they breed Norwegian Forest cats, which trust me are truly huge.  Of course she didn’t want to wait until then and the silver/grey tabby colorway she wanted may not materialise then anyway. So my daughter cajoled, persuaded, coerced etc etc me to have one sooner and in the end  I relented but on certain conditions. One, it had to be a friendly, two, I could name it and finally she had to take an equal share in the care of all three cats. To be fair she does most of the feeding and caressing based on the fact that as a teen she is more sedentary than me!  But of course she doesn’t touch the litter trays and lets be honest that’s the worst bit of indoor cats  not is she will have to.

After much viewing of kittens on line this little one was picked on and fallen in love with. She is a Scottish Fold hence the funny ears.

To my eye, while  I wouldn’t say it in the words of my son that  she  ‘looks really ugly but cute at the same time’, the ears and flat faces aren’t quite my thing. But she is a sweetie and very affectionate.


The name is my attempt to redress the balance. I applied the same psychology of the catering company at a factory at which I once worked.  It was a metal bashing company in the Black Country in the West Midlands with a typical canteen selling mostly greasy meals and chips with everything. It was at glorious time when I could eat anything and still be slim.

The new catering company rolled out almost exactly the same menu but used adjectives ahead of the meal title to entice customers so fish and chips became tasty battered fish  and crunchy chips, ham and chips became succulent ham and thin cut chips, chicken curry, delicious spicy chicken curry.  I was much taken with this and as indifferent cook adopted this and before placing food on the table I would preface it with tasty or delicious or succulent in an attempt to talk up the quality of the meal. So Bella it is and in the eyes of my daughter, who gazes at her much like a mother looking at her new born baby, she believes she is a beautiful cat.


But on the plus side, and what would life be if there wasn’t a plus side, it did give me a chance to make a quilt for her. Every cat in this household as well as human has had at least one quilt made for them….

I  initially dug these flannels but they looked so drab.


Bella needed something prettier. I had recently bought some Liberty in a sale and at c£8 per metre you can’t complain. It was just perfect teamed up with a double thickness fleece backing. It makes a really cosy blanket.


As to the other cats they didn’t exactly put out the bunting when we got home and both are decidedly miffed. Based on previous cat introductions I’m hoping they will settle down but for the moment they are both sulking…..