Holiday handwork

I can’t do without sewing, even for 10 days.

So I’ve been casting about for a project to take with me. I considered some very simple crochet (which is all I’m capable of), making more dishcloths and face washers, and I may still take some cotton yarn and a hook with me, but I wanted something a bit more, well, creative. I debated taking Anemone, but I need more space for hand quilting than the interior of the caravan allows. My Dahlia tapestry? Nah, not in the mood… Plus I don’t have the right kind of chair in the caravan to work comfortably with the frame.

Where I left it in March…

So, it’s time to pick up where I left off in March. I’ll be taking the Days Gone By hexie quilt I’m make for Days for Girls.  It’s a decent size now, so I’ll make big sections to add to the main one once I’ve done some laying out to make sure there’s no visual clashing. A few photos on my phone will keep things on track, and when I go back to the Saturday sewing sessions on my return, I’ll have some respectable progress to show. It would be nice to have another couple of rows done, at least.

The handy thing is that everything I need fits into a small work basket, so it’ll stow away neatly in the caravan. It’ll be good to get back to hand sewing again. Even after the months of work on the Anemone quilt, I miss the peaceful rhythm of hand stitching.

I won’t even mind if it rains while we’re away…

Blast from the Past

It has been many, many years since I cut a pattern.

Since it was so long, I didn’t tax myself with anything complicated. Let’s wind this back a little.

The other day, I realised that the backside was out of several pairs of my summer pants, worn thin and in some cases displaying an unseemly amount of underwear. I went shopping and one of the replacements I bought was a pair of wide leg pants in lightweight crepe with a comfortable broad elasticated waist and a slit from ankle to halfway up the calf which resulted in a fun flip of the pants leg when you walk. They have rapidly become my favourite pair, still a little thin for the current wintery weather (yes, OK, 21°C/70°F is not winter as many of you know it, but it’s cold for us), but due to be worn to death in the summer. They were only available in one colour-way, navy with a small white spot.

Well, obviously I was going to try and copy them, wasn’t I? – especially as there are only 3 pattern pieces involved: front, back and waistband.

I had a pencil, eraser, ruler, roll of brown paper, tape measure and pins. That’s all you need to draft a pattern off an existing garment, unless you want to go all fancy and get one of those little spiky wheel things. It’s a bit trickier when there’s elastic involved, as it’s hard to get a garment to lie flat when the waistband keeps wanting to shrink back to its unexpanded size. But essentially you lay the garment as flat as possible and trace around it, using pins to punch an outline where you can’t flatten out a seam or disappear a sleeve, for example.

You then join everything up, add seam allowance, et voilà: a basic pattern. Add marks to ensure things will line up, indicate straight grain and how many pieces to cut, and the job is done.

Now to cut it out from the grey and white bargain-bin fabric I picked up a couple of years ago for the massive total of $6 for 3 metres. Plenty. And I’ll probably have enough to make some sort of matching top.

Watch this space!

Anemone: Facing Finally Finished!

Yeah, yeah, I know.

It has taken an age. But that’s what happens when you decide to face the edge of your hexie quilt using the angled edges instead of straightening it all up and doing a nice normal binding. Mind you, it looks fabulous.

It’s a fiddly old process. You have to trim the batting and backing so that they sit ¼ inch inside the edge of the outer hexies. Then you have to make and stitch together 4 long chains of hexies to go on the back as facing. You have to stitch together – as invisibly as possible – all the outer edges. Then you have to remove the basting and the papers and pin down the facing onto the backing, keeping everything smooth. Then you have to go all the way round again, stitching down the inside edge onto the backing. It’s a tad mind-numbing. You can’t watch TV while you do it (although you can, and I do, listen to an audiobook. Or two, or even three).

But it’s done, and I’m really pleased with the effect. Now for the hand quilting. That’s going to have to wait till I get back from next week’s forthcoming trip north for a quick break in Cairns.

Next on the agenda is piecing together scrap batting for the second scrappy Sugar Sprinkle pillowcase, sandwiching and quilting. This is the first one, quilted with some moderately wonky-directional lines. I think I’ll do wavy lines on the other one…

I have another milestone to celebrate too, but not quite so decorative. Mouse and I have been gradually building up the length of our morning walks. It has been difficult because of my back pain, but the Husband solved that problem by buying me what’s know as a shooting stick, or spectator seat. When my back starts to hurt, I can stop and sit for a few minutes wherever I am, rest it till the pain eases, and then carry on walking. It has been a total game changer, and doggo and I are now powering through 3 or 4 km a day, something unheard of in earlier times. I’m working up to the 5km mark, and that’ll deserve a proper celebration, don’t  you agree?

Whether we’ll still manage it when the hot weather comes is another question; I might have to get up at 5 to walk him, feed him at the usual 6am and then we can both collapse for a bit, rather than feeding at 6 and walking at 7am. But for now, we have cool, fresh mornings, some with a mild nip in the air. The Crush is in full swing, and cane fields all around us are slowly being harvested. The landscape is reappearing from behind its 2m curtain of green sugarcane, and on these winter mornings there is a mist lying over the earth on cold mornings. It’s lovely, and makes walking a real pleasure.

Excuse me now. Mouse is demanding to go out and do zoomies in the back yard, preferable with his rope toy.

Your wish is my command, O Master…


F2F5: June round-up

It’s the end of the month again.

We’re halfway through this latest session of F²F, and as ever, the blocks are beautiful, colourful, and for the month’s member, a surprise (if they haven’t sneaked a peek).

It was Monike’s month, and we all made her blocks in indigo with golden yellow and accents of magenta (hot pink), with an optional white background. You can see her reference image if you go to the Members & Their Colours page on the F²F blog. The block photos are in the gallery, and they’re gorgeous!

July is Robin’s turn, with a fresh and summery palette of blues and yellows as an antidote to the chilly southern hemisphere winter where she lives. This is what she had to say:

“My colours for this year are blues and yellows with a white background if needed. All shades of blue from light to darkest navy. The yellow can be pale through to mustard and gold like sunflowers. Fabrics can have blue and yellow in the same fabric or be just blue, yellow or white.”

If you’re new to this blog and don’t know anything about F²F, do head over to the dedicated F2F blog and read all about it. The first ever session can be found on this blog, but for subsequent years I set F²F up with its own blog due to the image-heavy nature of the work. You’ll find a rich, varied and vibrant source of inspiration in all the blocks shown in the galleries for the various years. Enjoy!

July’s going to be a month of summer skies and sunflowers 🙂 …


BM&I #47: Parterre block 14

Here’s Block 14. I love this one!

It’s becoming apparent that my bright colour fabrics tend towards the warm side of the spectrum. It may be time to do a spot of fabric shopping, so isn’t it lovely that Covid-19 restrictions are slowly lifting, despite a recent flare up down south ;-D

Here’s Block 14 of the Parterre quilt:

And because I may be almost halfway through making the blocks, here’s a fun little collage of where I’ve got to so far. The blocks are, of course, the same size as each other in real life. Visualise them joined by narrow black sashing, perhaps with a brightly-coloured cornerstone at each intersection. Does anyone feel there’s a gap in the colour scheme, a colour missing from the line up? All suggestions considered (but not necessarily acted upon!). I know it’s hard when they’re all different sizes. And I think I’ve come as close to brown as I’m going to. Just sayin’.

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column of this blog.

Until next time…

Mend it Monday #8

An idea devised by The Snail of Happiness

Oh joy, another pair of the Husband’s work pants to repair…

I think we can justifiably call this an Heroic Repair, don’t you?  There are already two patches in place from previous incidents, and he really did a number on them this time.

However, despite biting the bullet and buying not one but three new pairs, these are still among his favourites. They’re soft, comfortable and lightweight. So pleeeeease would I mend them. Again.

Oh, very well…

OK, Heroic Mend complete.

That’s better.

Back from outer space

I know, I know, it’s been too quiet around here.

In my defence, I’ve had a pretty foul week. I’ve had to wait for blood test results to see if I had a familial auto-immune disease. Despite having most of the symptoms, it appears from the blood tests – finally – that I don’t. Which is great, but still doesn’t explain the symptoms. Never mind. Life goes on and my sewing mojo is back now that the doom hanging over my head has been removed. I have recovered my equilibrium and my optimism, and I’m back at it.

In token of which, the second Sugar Sprinkles pillowcase front is finished. Completely different, a bit more colour, and patterned fabrics, but still wonky-ish. I just couldn’t go past all those lovely bright colours and splashy prints. The greys are mostly a bit darker, too. The Husband and I can fight over which one we want when the time comes. He thinks they both look like TV test patterns. That’s a brilliant name for a quilt, and I may still need to change Sugar Sprinkles to Test Pattern…  Full credit to the Husband of Chiconia if it happens!

Now to sandwich and quilt these panels, make backs and assemble them. But there’s no rush; my F²F turn doesn’t come till August, and I still have my own blocks to make for that.

Now, what shall I make next…?

ScrapHappy June: Sugar sprinkles

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

I don’t really enjoy improv. It’s too…. disorganised. But sometimes, what you have in front of you cries out for some serious improvisation. Later this year, it’s going to be my turn to receive F2F blocks (Footsquare Freestyle, for those who don’t follow regularly). My chosen colour theme is light and mid greys, whites and brights (except yellow, I’m not a big fan and I’m a bit picky, so I’ll be supplying my own yellow blocks!). Well, I thought I’d warm up to making my own blocks by using some of my scraps.

The F2F blocks will certainly become a quilt, and this being the case, I decided to make a quilted pillowcase (or maybe two) to go with it. And this is the first stage, the pieced front (still to be quilted).

I’ve used some fairly tiny scraps and quite a lot of scrappy grey, many of the darker pieces turned back to front to allow them to blend in. I haven’t allowed myself to get all agitated about wonky seams or strange angles. I think it works…. There’ll be another one in the pipeline at some stage. As I said, I don’t really enjoy the process, although I do like the outcome! If the blocks I receive have the same sort of colour balance (ie, more grey than colour) I’ll probably end up calling the quilt Sugar Sprinkles.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). If you’ve copied this list from previous posts, please use the one below as it’s the most up to date.

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin and Vera

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

A Message from Mouse

Hello blog people, Mouse here again.

I’ve had to have words with the Staff. I noticed that Mum isn’t adhering to her usual regular posting schedule and I felt she was Slacking Off. I know you’ll be concerned that the same slackness might be carrying through to My care and feeding, but luckily, all that is still happening on schedule and up to standard.

It appears that Mum (aka Chief of Staff and Quartermaster) is having a spot of bother with her back and hasn’t been able to adhere to her proper schedule (except for looking after Me, naturally). She says there’s a fair bit of pain and some very unpleasant clunking and grinding sensations, and that as soon as Dad finishes his last day of night shift, she’s going to have a day on her back in bed to let it all settle down.

To be honest, I’m not sure what the fuss is about. Her back’s not nearly as long for her size as mine, but I suppose as she insists on walking around on just her hind paws it’s not surprising she’s having a spot of bother. And she doesn’t spend enough time snoozing, in my opinion. Catch me ever having back trouble… On the other hand, too much time spent snoozing might impact on service quality, so I’m going to keep my opinion to myself on that subject!

To be fair, she has sorted out a couple of piles of scraps and has ironed them. She says it’s for F2F and ScrapHappy and is going to be a cushion cover.

I wonder if it’s for Me… My bed could do with a a bit of smartening up.