Thursday, 20 February 2014

Siblings Together with Lily's Quilts

I am over at Lily's Quilts today chatting about the quilt I have made for the Siblings Together Quilting Bee. So Hello! if you have come here from there. I'm new, so there aren't too many posts yet, so I hope you will stay and have a look round.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Fabric wanties

Don't worry fabric police, I'm not about to leap off the fabric fast wagon. No no, I'm a fully signed up member of fabriholics anonymous with no plans to break that pledge anytime soon.


But that doesn't make me immune to the fabric wanties, does it? My Instagram, Bloglovin feed, email inbox are all brimming with brand new pretties and while I'm trying to just ignore and delete, to be honest that's leaving me feeling a little flat. I love fabric, new things, the thrill of a new collection, planning new projects, waiting for a great offer. And all the lovely collections previewed at Quilt Market are just coming into shops now. Of course these are the reasons I've signed up to fabric fast, along with the out of control stash of course. But I do love all the fabric temptation, it is everywhere and gives me inspiration. Somehow knowing I can't buy anything new has stolen my sewjo a little.

So rather than just pretending it doesn't exist I've decided to acknowledge what's lovely and new and tempting at the moment. I'm not buying! But if I was buying this is what I'd buy. Maybe you could all buy?! Then I can live vicariously through you ....

Top of the list is Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller.

Lovely image from

I mean seriously. I am not the biggest fan of pictorial/ novelty type prints (I make a special exception for every single one of Aneela Hoey's fabric lines) but I just love this. Maybe it's because I have two girls ... I'm afraid gender sterotyping is alive and well in this house and my 4 year old would just LOVE this. I love the corally pink and the aqua and the fireflies and the little horses. Sigh. This one grabbed me when I saw the pictures from Quilt Market, maybe because I was (am ...?) still swirling with baby hormones and Sarah Jane had her adorable baby son along there with her? There's a blog hop going on on Sarah Jane's blog too with all sorts of inspiring loveliness. I love this lattice quilt by Emily Carr from Simple Girl Simple Life.

Image from
Anyway. Super cute. If you are weaker than me then Pink Castle have full range bundles and Annie at The Village Haberdashery is getting the whole range in too! Gah.

Then of course there is Catnap by Lizzy House for Andover fabrics. That claim that I don't like novelty prints is coming unravelled rapidly, isn't it? Anyway I'm not a huge cat fan either but Lizzy's blenders are some of the best. Her jewels are my favourite ever binding print.And these teeny mice!

Image from

Also popping up in shops this week is Meadow by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery fabrics. I had forgotten about this one until now. Green is my absolute favourite colour and I find it is hard to find great greens in fabric collections. And here they are.With lovely oranges, yellows and blues too. Sigh. I don't think this has hit the UK yet but I'm sure it will soon.

All images above from

Ah, I could go on, but I think I should stop, I'm just making myself feel miserable ;-)
Not really, I am enjoying all my lovely fabric and getting on with some long planned projects.

I know that Anna Maria Horner often tops many people's wanties lists, and I've been playing with some of her beautiful voile this week, fabrics I bought last year and had almost forgotten I had.

This makes me happy.

Linking up with Rebecca and the fabric fasters for the February check in.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Getting my knickers in a twist

When Sonia posted about some super cute knickers she had made using this adorable kit from Trixie Lixie I though it looked like a sweet easy fun little project and a nice way to use up a couple of fat quarters. Then she announced the Valentine's knicker swap and I thought well why not? I haven't participated in any swaps yet for fear of inflicting my lacklustre skills on someone way more talented but my confidence has really improved this year, boosted greatly by the STQB. Count me in!

So I ordered my pattern and some pretty elastic and set to, whipping up a quick pair of knicks in just an hour or so.

A quick pair of too big, saggy, scruffy, badly finished knicks.

This is not how I like my finished items to look. Wobbly seam lines, bunchy zig zag stitch, unfinished edges, mismatching side seams. What a mess. Not a happy Hannah at all.

Well no matter. I had bought 6m of elastic (enough for 3 pairs) and seeing as I have enough fabric to stock an entire lingerie shop with homemade panties I thought right, another (better) pair for me then onto the swap pair.

Except 2m of my elastic looks like this.

Purchased before I had read the pattern I have no idea to attach this double edged pretty without it looking like a total dog's dinner.

Straight onto swap pants it was then.

Luckily Sonia posted some incredibly helpful tips which revealed the cause of the sagginess. You have to pull that elastic TAUT. So taut. I hadn't done that, particularly on the back edge. I had pulled, but not enough.

So I stalked my lovely swap partner Jo for a while and decided she had a fabulous enough sense of humour to handle beaver pants. Childish, yes, I know, but amusing nonetheless and I love this Art Gallery print. <snigger>

And so I got cutting. While watching Grey's Anatomy, planning dinner, mentally packing for my holiday and generally not even thinking about the fact that I was cutting a directional print.

On the bias.

On the bias but UPSIDE DOWN.

Seriously. Falling out with these knickers pretty fast. And with sewing time running out rapidly.

Back to square one, pulled  a load of prints, went with the awesome that is Lizzy House. Already pre-washed Lizzy House, bonus. I made a badminton dress for dd1 with this print last year and had enough leftover for Jo's knicks.

Cutting, done. I hadn't been at all pleased with the finish of my first gusset so I used a spot of glue to ensure it all stayed tidy and neat. If you can sew it you can glue baste it, that's my motto. And onto the elastic.

I practised and practised on some elastic and fabric scraps but just couldn't get it to look right at all. The only downside of my wondrous sewing machine is that the 9mm hole (there's a technical term for that I'm sure, it is eluding me right now) loves to gobble fabric. I solve this when piecing by using my single hole plate but that obviously doesn't help when a zig zag stitch is needed. So lots of fabric gobbling. Too small a zig zag and the elastic edges were curling up, too wide and I was dropping off the side. I emailed Sonia in a perfectionist panic and she talked me down wonderfully. 

So I selected a stitch width, secured that elastic with a spot of glue, pulled myself together and got on with it. Pulling that elastic so taut that at times my machine was struggling to feed it through! Oops. I also took Sonia's wise advice of going very, very slowly and it all started to come together nicely.

Hurrah! I even boldly added a little label and happily sent these on their way.

And then yesterday my parcel arrived. I was so excited to see the return address was Lisa from LisaSew. Lisa had posted a sneaky peek of her swap knicker gusset on Instagram and I had hoped they might be mine as the print was just so perfectly me.

And they are!

Grey geometric print with awesome red heart elastic. Beautifully sewn. Thank you Lisa I love them! Oh and congratulations on your new job!!

After the great knicker battle I had decided that me and knickers were done. But then I've worn these lovelies all day, and there's talk of another round of Sonia's swap .... so .... we'll see ;-)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

WIP Wednesday

Wednesday again already! I guess this becomes a familiar feeling if you try to link up with Lee every week, right?!

Anyway, I've been making knickers, but they are for Sonia's Valentine's knicker swap so I don't want to share pics until they have been received.

And I finally decided what to do with this awesome stack of rainbow voile pretties that I bought from Amanda at Westwood Acres last Summer sometime. Amanda's pictures are better than any I could take so I will use hers to show you the lovelies:

I was originally just going to do simple patchwork with this but meh, I do like patchwork but I like piecing more. Then one insomniac night I was hit with this cunning plan:

That's the All Washed Up Sparkling Cider pattern which I saw and fell in love with on Jeni's In Color Order blog. She's made a couple of beautiful quilts with this pattern.It's pretty straightforward but so lovely and uses big cuts which will show off the gorgeous Anna Maria Horner prints.

I have made it before, but it's an as yet un-gifted gift. And I love it, and I want one for me.

So. Been figuring out my values (I'm not using a solid background fabric, just the lower value voile FQs, so I want to ensure some contrast with those bigger stars especially).

Stroking my favourite prints.

And been pressing and starching and doing some very careful cutting. Voile is slippery stuff and I can't afford to waste any!

And that is this week's WIP.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, 10 February 2014

A quick finish and a quilt back

I did just as promised and turned my extra pinwheel block into a cushion this weekend. I had a real push at the end of last year and the beginning of this to finish up some WIPs and I hate having UFOs hanging about. With no other plans for this block a cushion was the obvious answer.

I don't make many cushions really. We aren't really cushion people so they end up shoved down the back of the sofa, or my eldest rests her dinner on it - horror!! It's a shame as they can be pleasing makes.

This was all about a quick finish so I went for an envelope back rather than my usual zipper. It's a bit gapey, I think I like a zipper better. I was going to hand quilt it, for all of about 3 minutes, then I came to my senses and did a simple 1" diagonal grid in white (2021) Aurifil 50wt - my go to quilting and piecing thread.  I marked up the grid with my Hera marker and quilted it while watching Jenny Jones win Britain's first ever Olympic medal on snow in the snowboard slope style. I hardly ever put the TV on on a Sunday daytime so was super pleased to catch this.

I was going to bind it but couldn't make a decision and decided I cba after all and so just finished it up quickly. I even made my own cushion pad after seeing the idea on Crazy Mom Quilts (*I saw this idea on a blog somewhere this week but can't remember where - if anyone knows please shout up and I will add a link* eta added now thank you!). But turns out a 20" cushion pad needs more than an entire bag of poly stuffing to make it pleasingly plump. Who knew?! A feather one is on the way.

Despite its sagginess dd1 has adopted it into her cushion pile in her room, where it clashes somewhat with the ubiquitous pink colour scheme!

It is backed with some precious Mama Said Sew text print (sewing guide in black). I had yards of this and my gut inclination is to hoard it but that's silly isn't it? This year as part of fabriholics anonymous I need to slash my stash. Use the prints I love, then at the end I'll destash those I don't. No hoarding. I am not a hoarder, use it and love it or lose it!

I tried to keep this in mind while letting my husband chose a backing for the playground quilt which he has claimed as his own. I did veto a couple of pieces but went ahead with roughly a yard each of leftover kona olive, Essex yarn dyed black linen, a blue Andover wickerweave (bought to make unlikely to ever happen shorts for DD1) and more of that precious sewing guide print. Don't worry folks I have more of that and the yarn dyed ... More work to be done on letting go I think! Well I can't buy anything else and a year is a long time!

Anyway back all pieced last night and ready to baste.

Except I need batting ... Considering investing in a roll. Anyone seen any great offers lately?

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A bee block - and a pressing issue

A couple of days ago I received a super lovely little package of fabric from Anna 

Some Color Me Happy to make our February bee block for the Siblings Together quilting bee (STQB). Anna had chosen a 17.5" unfinished version of the very pretty Pinwheels in the Park block .

I spent an enjoyable hour or so's cutting and sewing to produce this:

Hope it's okay Anna! I look forward to my STQB package arriving every month. It's such a fantastic charity, and a super bee and we are very lucky to be supported by some wonderfully generous sponsors.




Making this block gave me the opportunity to question and test out some of my usual sewing practices. Anna sweetly requested that we press our seams open for this block. I never ever press seams open, but being an obedient kind of girl I did exactly as I was told. And took the opportunity to reflect on why I do things the way I do.

When I first started quilting it seemed that open seam pressing was the way to go, but to be honest I never really took to it. I found it tedious and time consuming, and frequently burnt my fingers! Then I discovered Cristy's awesome glue basting technique. Oh glue basting, how I love you. The accuracy of my piecing improved immeasurably. I no longer had to use pins. I hate pins. No slippage. Practically perfect points. And no open seams! With glue basting it is impossible to press seams open because you have, you know, glued your seam together. So you press to the side, always. I like the extra support that gives to my seams and the ability to nest alternately pressed seams is fundamental to matching those seams, and therefore your points, perfectly. If that makes no sense, please go watch the video. It is Cristy's technique and she can explain it better than I can.

I was fascinated when I received the blocks back for my own STQB quilt (post on that coming v soon I promise) to see the way that others piece and press their blocks. Most people seem to use a combination of open and to the side seam pressing. Please - you go on and press your seams however you prefer. I'm just pondering on how a certain technique seems to work best for me.

Sooooo. Because I am a piecing geek, I decided to do some experimenting. My bee block went pretty well, but I didn't feel it was my most accurate work. Those centre points aren't perfect, though they are okay.

The open seams make for a lovely flat block with no bulk at the seams at all. I imagine this must make for an easier time when it comes to the quilting, fewer layers of fabric to battle through.

But the pins! And how I had to fight the temptation to put a spot of glue on that centre seam.

And so as this block came together so quickly, and because I am procrastinating on knickers, I decided to make another block, using my usual glue basting processes.

Here it is:

And a geeky close up of the centre. Still not entirely perfect but in a different way.

You can almost see the folding of the fabric at the seams. I actually fudged the centre point a little by not pressing the seam out entirely flat.

I like the crispness of the points. But it is bulky, no doubt. The centre of the block doesn't lie flat. Some Best Press improves things no end, but those bulky folded seams will certainly be a little tricky to machine quilt over. But it seems I work more accurately this way, it is what I have become used to. The block is exactly 17.5" (rather than a few mm over) and the points of the QSTs aren't going to get lost when I add borders or sashing. And -  no pins!

I'm going to turn this into a cushion now, rather than leaving it languishing in the lonely block pile. It has been fun, and interesting (for me, at least, you are all probably yawning with boredom!) to be encouraged to work differently for a change. But I think I'd better stick to my glue basting for now. Even if it is cheating a little ;-)

Friday, 7 February 2014

Better together

Funny how a pile of not entirely inspiring blocks can turn into something altogether more exciting once pieced together.

Quilt top done! #simplyretro @thimbleblossoms  #happygoluckyfabric

I love it now. So does my husband, who is claiming it as "his" quilt.

Just need to raid the stash and cobble together a backing. I know that backings are officially allowed as part of the fabric fast but at this stage in proceedings (and given the amount of 1 yard+ cuts in my stash) I think that would be cheating, frankly. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

WIP Wednesday

Well this is exciting. Lee's Freshly Pieced blog was one of the first I discovered when I started quilting and so I have been reading her WIP Wednesday posts for over 2.5 years. I think?! Have they been going that long? Anyway. I love reading about what others are up to sewing wise and now I can finally link up myself.

So. This week, as well as setting up my blog, I have been slowly working on my Playground quilt from Simply Retro. For Christmas I got absolutely none of the quilting books on my Amazon wish list. Not a single one. So I treated myself to a few, including one by the very lovely Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms patterns and Bonnie & Camille fabric fame. She really is one of my favourite designers and I am so in love with Swoon, but the Simply Retro book contains some fun and more straight forward patterns. I had a part used layer cake of Happy-go-lucky fabric which I had pulled some squares from to make a baby quilt for tiny girl. The Playground pattern needs just 36 layer cake squares so I grabbed that and added a couple of extra prints from my stash (diluting and working outside of fabric lines is a current goal you see).

Decisions, decisions
Both my husband and my lovely peeps on Instagram agreed that Kona Olive was the bold way to go background wise so I set to piecing these blocks last week

Had a little assistance with the layout.

Went away all weekend, got blog obsessed but have been piecing them into rows today.

I have to confess I am a little lukewarm on this quilt at the moment. I love all the fabrics, I love the simple block pattern. But some blocks I love:



Others, not so much:


I am just having to trust it to come together beautifully. And wondering whether to add sashing between the rows too? Not like me to go off pattern piste, I'm a natural rule follower you know!

Of course no one ever has just one wip on the go, right? I have an ongoing hand project to do during long car journeys, while sitting in the car waiting for the baby to wake up and on evenings away from home, mostly to stop me wasting my life playing candy crush saga on my phone at such times. My preference is to bind a quilt, but I need to make one first so I've been slogging on with this.

You may recognise this as the April block from last year's Pile o Fabric skill builder BOM. What a wip that is, I am hopelessly behind but really learning new things. Mostly at the moment I am learning that I don't think EPP is for me. I know, what a thing to say, it's very popular at the moment and much loved by many but I don't think it's my bag. So it has taken me weeks (months?!) to sew all those little hexies into columns and now I have the uninspiring task of sewing the columns together.

I need to get that playground quilt ready to bind, don't I?

Anyway I do love the look of the chev n hex block so I shall persevere.

So basically this week I've been working on two projects that I am somewhat ambivalent about. Hence the new blog, you see? I'll try to do better next week!

Okay in the interests of transparency let's get up a full start of February WIP list.

Playground quilt. To piece, baste, quilt, bind.
Skill builder BOM. Slow progress.
Lucky stars BOM. No progress.
Festive giant churn dash quilt. Just 2/12 blocks made but hey, I have till December.
STQB (Siblings Together Quilting Bee) February block. Fabrics arrived today so need to get this done.
Sonia's Valentine's knicker swap. I am busy stalking my swap partner ....

I think that's it.

Linking up with Lee, squeeeeee!