Last one for a bit

And the final pair of table mats.

Both are orphan blocks from the Twilight quilt, one from the central panel and one from the border. Both just didn’t work because they were too bright for their context, but luckily they’re about to have a new career as table mats!  They’re backed with more of the purply-teal you saw on the last pair, and both are bound with scraps, which is why both sets of bindings are half-and-half in different fabrics.

Tomorrow I’m delivering the whole stack of recent work to Days for Girls, and letting them know I’m taking a bit of a break because I now have to concentrate on finishing Tyger and making a start on blocks for the latest Ovarian Cancer quilt, Can You Teal the Love. There’ll be some bags in the not too distant future, but other work has to take priority for now.

I’ve enjoyed making quite a big dent in some of my scraps, but it’s time for even bigger things!

A few more scraps

This is almost the last of my orphan blocks.

I thought a set of three table mats might be nice… It uses up blocks, bits and pieces of fabric and odd lengths of 2½ inch fabric strips, and you finish with something pretty and useful. More Days for Girls prizes.

Two more mats to go, and then I must finish assembling the top of the Tyger quilt. It’s been a bit stalled while I tried to put some prize material together, but it’s past time to get that bit done, sandwich and then quilt the thing.

I’m going to need the space on my design wall.

Mend It Monday

It’s a perennial problem.

The Husband drives for a living. He wears a seatbelt for an average of 80 hours in his working week. It’s safe, but it’s rough on his work shirts. By far the most frequent repair I have to make is not lost buttons, split underarm seams or torn pockets, but the ‘seatbelt shoulder’.

I can’t actually keep up with the demand for orange work shirting fabric recycled from his old shirts. Mostly the backs of his old shirts become a ‘glove rag’. He has to wear heavy duty rubber gloves delivering the diesel, and once he’s done with them they get wrapped up in a large cloth until the end of the shift, when the whole lot gets washed. The shirt back is perfect for this purpose.

I know this patch is really visible. It’s because it’s come from older, more faded, but still intact sleeve cloth. Usually, I turn under the edges, but I’ve found that the raised edge catches the seatbelt even more. So I serged the edge and stitched it down with first blanket stitch and then straight stitch inside that. My mending has had to evolve over time to meet the demands of the job!

One more shirt saved from the rag bag. It’s a shame the rag bag is running low!


Good homes for orphan blocks

I’m enjoying this.

It’s a great opportunity to free up some space whilst simultaneously creating something useful and pretty from orphan blocks I haven’t been able to use elsewhere.

Once again, the Days for Girls raffle is approaching. It’s not imminent or anything, so I have time, but it does give me a deadline for turning out a bunch of raffle prizes.

The main one, the Hopscotch quilt, is done and handed in. I handed over a bundle of heat pads a couple of weeks ago.

Now, there’s a new batch ready. They’re finishing at about 10 inches square.

The cushion at the end is coming out at about 16 inches square. The front is a lovely block from the F2F series from which I made my Bougainville Nights quilt. There was too much yellow in this block to work well with the pink/orange/dark navy colour scheme, but it was so pretty I’ve been saving it for a good cause.

The reverse of the cushion is scrappy, but again, it features birds and it’s double-sided with a pillowcase opening, so you can choose which side you prefer to display.

It’s enjoyable because it’s quick. And easy. And each one I make clears a little more space. Mind you, my To Do list remains impressive (Finish the Tyger quilt; hand quilt the Anemone quilt, make an Ovarian Cancer raffle quilt for mid-August; make the quilt I recently laid out from the last F2F blocks; make loads more Parterre blocks…. well, you get the idea).

Still on the DfG raffle pile is a stack of 6 place mats from leftover Twilight quilt blocks, a couple more book bags and if time allows, a rather posh tote from a pattern i bought about 2 years ago and still haven’t tried out.

Tomorrow is free for sewing, but the rest of the week is going to be a question of snatching time where I can.

I’ll keep on keeping on.

Curry camouflage

A while ago, I bought some fabric.

No, really?

The remnants bin at Spotlight has a strange fascination for me, and I bought a wonky 90cm/36in end-of-bolt of heavy linen furnishing fabric because I adored the colour and design, not because I had a purpose in mind. It’s too heavy for clothing, so I had no excuse, really…

Anyway, last night as I was flinging my Japanese-style cross-back apron into the wash for the millionth time due to spillage I realised that I needed a second one. And the lightbulb went on. Of course, the fabric wasn’t big enough to cut the pieces all in one, but it was a good width and I did a bit of piecing, and I think the result is quite satisfactory.

And while I was on the use-every-bit kick, I did a lot more piecing, and made myself a matching heat pad. I’ve pieced some scrap batting and found a rather too narrow strip of leftover fabric from the Tyger quilt for the binding, which I’ll make work somehow. I’ll dig out something for the backing at some later stage.

Not much usable fabric left. Life is too short for scraps as small as these; the fabric frays if you just look at it.

Those selvedges are nice and study, though, so I’m saving them for some future use.

And the title of this post? It’s because my friend Chippy says the apron is perfect to “camouflage curry splashes”! So true, and let’s face it, there are plenty of those in my life.

So, my shirt fronts are once again safe 😊

A needed pause…

I have given myself a break.

I needed it. Not sure why, but I was feeling a bit burned out. Things I normally enjoy had no savour, I was tired all the time, the sewing room wasn’t enticing me, that sort of thing. On top of that, we’ve once again had to cancel our trip south to see friends and family as the Rona is rife in our destination. This was a really big disappointment. I haven’t seen my sister for 2 years, and my friends for the same period. FaceTime or Duo calls are great, but they don’t replace hugs and face-to-face conversation. Oh, and there was a nasty migraine in there a few days ago, which always knocks me about a bit. So, yeah. It wasn’t depression, but it was close. I have stuck a smile and some lippy on my face, and away we go.

And now it’s time to pick up the reins again. A month off is plenty long enough to whip myself back into shape, I feel. I’ve had a rest, indulged my blah, and now, it’s time to get my big girl pants back on.

Next on the agenda is finishing the Hopscotch quilt. I have managed to complete quilting all the blocks in record time on Aretha, my beeeautiful new sewing machine (my word, that thing is a total pleasure to work on!). I’ve cut all the joining strips and have started assembly. I don’t love this quilt, it has always been just a way of using up scraps in a constructive way, and I don’t feel inspired by it or look forward to working on it, but it deserves to be finished.

What I AM looking forward to is getting on with a number of other projects. I have all the lovely blocks from the last F2F project waiting for me, and the other day I fetched them out and laid them out. After lots of rearranging, I think this is probably the layout I’ll go with. Any blocks not used in the quilt top will go on the back, probably.

I also have the Tyger quilt to start on, which is exciting me quite a lot; I haven’t worked with such a restricted colour palette in a long time and it’s going to be fun! I still have lots of Parterre blocks to make… So, plenty to keep me busy!

I told myself I wasn’t going to set a key word for this year. And I still think that, but Finish is starting to look like it would have been a good choice! Closely followed, of course, by Start!

Anyway, I’m back, and if I’m not quite firing on all cylinders yet, I do at least have the engine running and some colour back in my life 😊

ScrapHappy January

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.

It’s only a small one this month, as endless photos of blocks you’ve seen before, only quilted, are not interesting for anyone.

I love my local library, and my local librarian, Sally. She has boundless energy and enthusiasm for her job, and we share many tastes in books. I strolled in there the other day wearing one of my home made masks, since we’re back on mask wearing in any indoor setting due to Omnicrom. She admired it on sight, and while in any other situation, I’d have whipped it off, stuck it in its plastic bag and given it to her, obviously that’s not a good idea right now. So as I had enough scrap of the same fabric, and time, I got snipping and stitching and made her one for herself. She has a black uniform shirt, so I think it’ll add a cheerful note.

The Husband gets the disposable surgical masks from work, and I used a spare to dismantle it and use the elastic, nose wire and blue lining material to make Sally a triple layer mask. Outer as you see, inner made from a tightly woven batik, and the blue in the middle. These masks are washable, and when the strips holding the nose wire and elastics eventually disintegrate after too many washes, I can just run a ripper along the stitching, remove the old ones and replace with fresh wire and elastic. That hasn’t happened yet on any of the masks I’ve made for myself or the Husband, so maybe they’ll last us out. I like the pattern, as I can wear it for ages without discomfort and without my glasses fogging up.

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). Bear, your email address appears to be not working, so I wasn’t able to send you a reminder, sorry.  If you’ve changed it, can you please let me know?

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

A cushy number

Well, it’s Mouse’s turn.

He’s now also immortalised in a cushion. There was lots of dudgeon and side-eye when I made the Lotti cushion, as he felt that as I was His mum, I should have prioritised Him. So I gave in to the hounding (see what I did there?) and made him his own.

The front isn’t black, it’s a dark charcoal with a black graphic overprint. I need to get a cushion pad the right size, what’s in there is a bit floppy as it’s not quite large enough, but it can wait till the next time I have to go to Spotlight for something else. For the back, I used my remnant of the pretty Jocelyn Proust gold fabric with a pattern of leaves and zebra finches.

I did get a photo of Mouse all stretched out, doing a Lotti, but it was just too long and skinny to make a cushion, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention that his grey blankie isn’t exactly a colourful background for a black dog…

Anyway, his Lordship is now content that he’s been respected satisfactorily!

Better late than never

You know those jobs that just won’t come into focus?

The ones where you have a nebulous idea, a great idea, but one which just won’t reveal its details to you? Yeah… This was one of those jobs. I knew I wanted to make a Christmas gift for my friend Lyn, Lotti Greyhound’s mum. I knew I wanted it to be a Lotti-themed item. But I couldn’t get it to come into focus. A few days ago, it finally clicked, but I didn’t have everything I needed.

And here, finally, it is. Lovely Lotti in all her sleek and slinky glory,  stretched at ease on her comfy bed, with a silly greyhound grin on her chops and one balletic paw poised at exactly the right angle… I picked out colours from within the photo to frame it out as a cushion. I cropped and tweaked and added a soft, vintage-y filter. I added a caption and flipped the whole thing, then made an iron-on transfer. The rest is pretty straightforward cushion-making, and I won’t bore you with it.

Mouse approves of the portrait of his girlfriend, even if he’s not sure why this cushion is going out of the house, since all cushions are apparently his property…

I’m glad I got it done before Christmas is entirely over!

Pink Christmas, all sewn up

It’s done, and I LOVE IT!

The tree is finished, quilted, bound and baubled. I made 20 or so yoyos from scrap. I had 6 little silver baubles from a Secret Santa gift. I also had a long, thin gold-coloured wire of tiny ‘grain’ sized lights on a battery pack, which looks perfect.

It’s hanging in front of one of our living room bookcases (steel ruler through a rod pocket on the back, sitting in a couple of Command hooks on the bookcase. It looks so sweet, twinkling away in the corner.

And let me just tell you, the quilting was a breeze! Aretha came up trumps. While I’m on the subject, can I just give you some pros and cons after a day’s use?

The yellow thimble gives you an idea of scale…

She’s a Quilter’s Choice 300E, which is an Australian rebrand of the BabyLock Jazz. I was a bit dubious about a non-computerised machine at first, but I must say, I’m beginning to appreciate the benefits.

First, the cons: No pedal speed regulator; speed is entirely down to how hard you press. The dials and knobs are a bit chunky-clunky. There’s no knot-off button to finish off your thread. There are fewer settings for tension, stitch length and stitch width. Threading the needle is a fraction harder. Threading the machine is definitely very different and it’s going to take a while to get really comfortable with that. Pulling up the bobbin thread is a little harder. The knee lift for the presser foot is very firm (but may ease off a bit in time).

And now, the pros: Very powerful. Much quieter. The LED light is much brighter and better positioned. The stitch quality and consistency is very good. There is no on board computer to go wrong or be vulnerable to power surges or cuts. LOADS of work space in the 30cm (12 inch) throat. Lots of storage space at front and back. All the stitches I wanted, plus a few more I’m looking forward to trying. Knee lifter means I can keep both hands on the work if necessary. The bobbin winder is very smooth and less prone to tangles than my Janome. Most of the knobs and dials are on top and disappear tidily under the cover when in use, so fabric doesn’t get caught on stuff. And best of all, the presser foot has adjustable pressure; I quilted the entire Christmas tree hanging in half an hour without having to shove the quilt about by force in order to prevent puckering.

In all, I’d say it was a bit of a revelation. This machine would be worth its original $1,000 price tag. The fact that I got it for just over half price is a wonder and a blessing.

Can’t wait to give her a run on something really challenging!