Sunday, 29 December 2013

A Sew it Together Bag

I bought this fab 'Sew it Together Bag' pattern way back in October from Sew Demented and dearly wanted to sew this bag up straight away. In between illness, catching up with bee blocks and Christmas sewing, I never got time to make it.

I did read reviews on this bag and tried to figure out how to put the bag together by googling other people's photos. The instructions are often difficult to follow and there are only a couple of diagrams to go on. If you decide to make one though, don't be put off as it is an awesome bag to both make and use.

I used a mini charm pack that my bee mate Rachel, gave to me back in July at the FQ Retreat, to make the outside piece of the bag. I then quilted this to make a firm piece of fabric for the outer piece.
Sew it Together bag in progress
The end result is a bag with four open pockets and three zippy pockets.
Sew it Together bag
It is a brilliant bag for carrying around a hand stitching project as it has ample of room to store everything you might need. When the outer zip is open it enables the pockets to concertina outwards so that you can see inside the pockets.
Sew It Together Bag
I just LOVE this bag.

I liked it so much, that I have made another one. My sister-in-law has a birthday between Christmas and New Year so I decided that as a sewist she might like one too. I  have made this second one using some scraps and linen. I learnt a few things when I made my first bag, so this second one came together much faster. We are sharing New Year's Eve together so I can give it to her then.
Sew It Together Bag 2
So that is the last of my sewing of 2013 to show you . I hope that 2014 will bring you many blessings and joy.

Di x

A Christmas Surprise

I had one really nice surprise that arrived on Christmas Eve. It was made by a very lovely Elf who was deputising for my partner in the Brit Bee Secret Santa swap. My partner isn't well at the moment but was thoughtful enough to arrange for someone else to make my cushion cover in the swap.

This is the cushion that arrived by special delivery on Christmas Eve. My husband wouldn't let me open it until Christmas Day, so the suspense was great. When I did open the parcel this is what I found. 

It is so kind of Terri (who you can find over on Flickr) and the clever Elf, Ceri

to hatch such a nice surprise for me. Thank you Ceri for doing the sewing on top of your own Christmas sewing, and also thank you to Terri who has been so thoughtful in making sure that I didn't miss out on the swap.

I LOVE my Brit Bee cushion!

Di x

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas

I have finally run out of time… I have a carol service to go to this afternoon so there will be no more sewing for me, this side of Christmas.

I did manage to squeeze in making a final present last weekend, but as it is a birthday present and not a Christmas present, I will show it to you after Christmas.

Di x

Friday, 20 December 2013

More present making...

I have been beavering away this week making presents. These are not on my present list but rather on Younger Son's present list. He commissioned me to make two zipper purses for friends and a birthday card for a third friend. I hope that the girls will like them.

Younger Son chose the fabric, buttons and zip combos and I had the fun of doing the sewing.

The Birthday card is based on the idea of our Bee a Brit Stingy swap. I used both linen and Liberty fabric as well as doing a little free motion writing.

I still haven't cracked the envelope as it isn't coming out just right, however as Younger Son was happy with it, I didn't worry too much as time is at a premium at the moment.

Hopefully I will get the last of my secret sewing finished this weekend.

Di x

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

More cushions

In Brit Bee we are swapping Christmas cushions and previously I have given you a peak of what I have been making.
I sent my cushion off to my swap partner last week and now that she has received it, I can now reveal my partner and the cushion! 

I was making for Judith and this was how the cushion turned out.
A Christmas cushion swap
And the back...
Back of cushion
I was anxious that I had filled the brief which was Christmassy but without Christmas fabric. I know that Judith likes modern so I was a little out of my comfort zone but I think that I may have pulled it off. I love this block and so I used it again to make a cushion for my Mum. 

My Mum has asked me to make her  a cushion for Christmas so I have made a small 12" cushion. Again these colours are not within my comfort zone but I do like that little bird.
Cushion for Christmas
Isn't it amazing how the same block can look so different? 

I am gradually whittling down my Christmas sewing list and there are still 6 sewing days left!!!

Di x

Friday, 6 December 2013

More Secret Sewing and a Christmas Market

There is plenty of sewing going on in these parts but it is secret sewing so I cannot give you more than a glimpse of my endeavours.

First up, I finished my cushion for the BritBee Christmas swap. My partner gave a good brief which helped enormously in deciding what fabric to choose. I hope that she won't be disappointed when she opens the package. It is always hard choosing for someone else.

Binding been made.
 I never normally quilt the back of my cushions but as it was for someone else I decided to have a go at it. If you notice there is a bit of a Christmas colourway going on here.

This cushion is all ready to be packaged up and sent on it's way to it's new home. Fingers crossed that the recipient will like it!

I have also taken a leaf out of Cindy's book and copied emulated her in making some hand warmers. They are really quick and easy to make. I gave them a trial run yesterday evening when I went to the Lincoln Christmas Market. They don't keep the heat for too long but they are lovely and tactile and most importantly kept my fingers warm.
Christmas present hand warmers
The market was really fun to go to. It was cold, but not too cold, and the wind had dropped significantly from earlier in the day. It was very pretty with lots of Christmas lights and the the Cathedral bells ringing out across the night. 
The market runs to Sunday but Thursday is for the locals so no coaches are allowed on this night. It makes it far less frenetic, and although there were lots of people last night, there wasn't the big crowds you get on the other days. It was a really lovely evening out. I am beginning to feel a bit more like Christmas… which is a good thing as when I was in London on Wednesday Younger Son put up the Christmas tree up. He knows that I don't like it up before the 15th/16th so he was delighted to dupe me. It still needs to be dressed so I reckon that will be a job for Sunday. I cannot believe that he did it…. or perhaps I can. He did give a a cheeky grin and a wink when I saw it.

That tree!
Today I have been doing more secret sewing on the December round of the Britbee quilt. It arrived here yesterday and today I have added the next round to it. I will be giving it to Susan tomorrow, at the Britbee get together for her to work her magic on it, in January. 
Jude's quilt
So that is what I have been doing the past couple of days. I have a long list of Christmas sewing to get on with but that is for another day

Di x

Monday, 2 December 2013

Secret Envelope Swap

In the Bee a Brit Stingy we are doing a Christmas envelope swap. The brief was to create an envelope and add a few little 'bits' before sending it to our partner.

I decided to go rustic and made this little envelope from linen and the inside (not seen in the photos) is a green Christmas print. I popped this in the post today so my partner should be getting this through the letterbox later this week (well we are a Stingy Bee and only use second class postage!).

Secret envelope swap
I had a surprise when this envelope dropped through the letterbox. Sheila has shown the envelope on her blog and I didn't get a whiff that it was for me. It is gorgeous, and the letter with the snowman on it, is really fun. 
My envelope and 'letter' from Sheila
I know that I will be using that lovely envelope for storing other things once the New Year comes. I think that the envelope I made  is much more amateurish, so I am sorry partner. 

My Younger Son saw me making my envelope and has commissioned me to make one for one of his friend's birthday… now that is a challenge!

Di x

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Bee block finishes and a swap.

Since my last post I have been beavering away at my outstanding November  'Bee Block To Do' list.

To recap, I finished Catherine's in the hipBees

I just love this pattern and have another block all cut out ready to sew and turn into a cushion for my Mum's Christmas present.

I managed to catch up and make Reene's October hipBee blocks. They are string blocks using her DS stash. They look so effective and pretty. Reene is going to have a beautiful quilt once the blocks are all pieced together. 

I pieced these blocks at the East Midland Modern Quilt Group meeting last Saturday. I always forget to take a photograph of the meetings but I just caught this sunset as we were just about to leave.
If you live anywhere in the East Midlands and would like to join us, check out the Flickr group and come to the next meeting.

My mystery Brit Bee blocks cannot be fully revealed but there are stars involved… these are bright stars and I enjoyed working on these.

Finally, but not least, I need to make a 16" mega block for Charlotte in the Bee a Brit Stingy group. I am ashamed to say that I haven't completed it and tomorrow is the last day of November. Charlotte, if you are reading this, then the block will be with you early next week. I had a little trouble in the low volume department and Ange has bailed me out so I can get this block completed this weekend.

Again, this is going to be a brilliant block. I love making flying geese so I am eager to finish this block off. It won't be happening tomorrow though, as I am heading off to Manchester to see our Elder Son at University. I have cooked several meals, soup and made an apple crumble to take with me. It is nice to be able to spoil my boy as he is missing home and all men like food!
Di x

Thursday, 21 November 2013

November Bee Blocks are underway

It is the middle of November and I am concentrating on getting bee blocks completed.

In the hipBees, Catherine asked for some great blocks. I am definitely going to make another block and make it up into a cushion for a Christmas present for my Mum. It would look great in Christmas fabric too. I could be tempted to make a candle mat with this block if I have enough time before Christmas.

I had a little trouble with these blocks. Firstly, I was a smidgen short of the black fabric. It isn't very short but it doesn't work if I use the short piece. I also BURNT one of the blocks with my iron. Younger Son has obviously been ironing as my ironing board and iron are a bit of a mess. I was rather sick at the thought of remaking the block but with a little Vanish and oxidiser I think that I have got away with it. (If it doesn't pass muster then I will gladly make another block, Catherine.)

We have a problem Houston!
So this is what I finished up with…

Catherine is going to finish off the incomplete block for me. These are going in the post today and I can give myself a big tick on my 'Bee Block To Do' list!

Di x

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Long time with no blogging...

It has been a whole month since I last blogged. This has partly been because we have been busy in the Willowbeck household but mainly because I have been ill.

In my last blog post I said that I was going away to three different places, one after another. Well I went to Southport and met up with my Mum...

...travelled back to Cumbria with my Mum and met up with my hubby and younger son. I then spent the next three days in bed with a viral infection and developed a horrible productive cough that is still lingering a month later. I got off my sick bed on the fourth day and then we drove down to Manchester where we dropped off Younger Son with Elder Son. We then flew over to Northern Ireland for my husband's 30 year university reunion with the medics of of 1983. 
A rather nice place to stay!
It was a great weekend and my hubby enjoyed seeing all his classmates. I was utterly bemused as I didn't know them 30 years ago and couldn't match up past photos with the people there. I think that the women had changed hair colour and the men had largely lost their hair!!!

Since our return home, I have spent the days napping beside the fire and feeling pretty washed out. This hasn't helped with getting the sewing done so I have very little to show you. For me, the highlight of the Northern Ireland visit was catching up with Sarah and Judith. We spend a lovely afternoon being 'Ladies Who Lunch' followed by a good chinwag. It was so great to see them and despite the miles between us they are very special friends. The photo below is testament to the gale that was blowing that day. 

I wanted to give my friends a little present so before I went, I made these little zipper purses.

I was given one from Nickki and I use it a lot when I don't want to lug around my normal overlarge purse.
My zipper purse from Nikki
Despite feeling ill, our family have had some nice times this past month. Younger Son has been awarded an Arkwright Scholarship so we had a grand day out in London at the Awards Ceremony. We were very proud parents and enjoyed the whole event. We stayed over in London so my men could go to the Gadget Show the following day. 
Younger Son also had his 17th birthday last weekend. He had a bonfire party with lots of warming food, sparklers and fireworks. It was deemed a success by all who attended. 

It felt sad at the end of the evening as it will be the last birthday party that we will host for our boys. We have always had birthday parties at home, despite it being hard work and often frantic. We wanted to give our boys memories of fun times in our home rather than going out to a fast food place or buying in an experience. 

Over the years we have had 12 boys sleeping over when they were 6-9yrs old (they were not enjoyable for us but the boys had a great time). I have done a dinner party for 23 teens for Elder Son's 16th. We have had treasure hunts, traditional parties…. now they are at an end and it feels sad to close that chapter of our lives. It is times like these that the passing years can be tinged with sadness.

This week is the week that I make all my November bee blocks as I am panicking about not making them in time. First up are Catherine's in the hipBees. Catherine has chosen a beautiful block and Catherine is cleverly using the charm squares from a charm swap. My only concern is that two of strips of fabric are an 1/8" too short. I have most of one block marked up for chain sewing and the promise of a flake with my coffee!

Wish me luck… I will report back later this week.

Di x

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A New Kid on the (Bee) Block

…well perhaps not a kid, but definitely a new woman in  Brit Bee.

Our  sassy friend, Terri, is stepping down from the sewing part of Brit Bee  I have been nominated to fill her ginormous shoes. This is both exciting and terrifying. Terrifying, as Terri is irreplaceable and I only hope that my sewing is up to scratch. Exciting, as the bee is trying something new this round and I am going to be part of it.

So the mission this month was to select our colours and make a sashed star block. I have taken ages agonising about what colours to select as my inspiration and hopefully to act as a reference point for my fellow bees. 

So my colours that I have chosen are greens/pinks/soft terracottas/yellows/greys as the seeds designs above. I would also like a splash of aqua to mix it up a little too.
Fabric colours for Brit Bee
The colours were hard to choose. I wanted colours that would fit into either my bedroom or living room. After consultation with Younger Son and Hubby it was decided that these  colours would be perfect. We have apple trees in the garden so my son thought that those colours would be apt.

I found choosing the actual star pattern relatively easy . I have used a star from the Solstice Star Series from the Fresh Lemons blog. It is aptly called Star of Mystery. 
Star of Mystery for Brit Bee
This quilt will be growing month by month but until it comes back to me it will be a mystery as to how it will be completed. I love the idea of a little mystery incorporated into sewing.

I am going awol for the next 10 days, as I go on my travels, but keep an eye out for me in Northern Ireland!
Di x

Monday, 14 October 2013

Round Britain tripping

On Friday this week I am leaving home for multiple destinations and it will be 10 whole days before I return home. I am a home bird, and whilst I like going away, 10 days is more than enough for me. This means that my sewing time is limited for the rest of October, so don't expect to see an awful lot of sewing going on here.

As I travel from Lincolnshire, to Southport, to Cumbria, to Manchester, to Northern Ireland and back to Manchester and finally home, I will be seeing different friends as well as family. I also hope to spend some time with these two lovely ladies

We are staying with some dear friends in Northern Ireland. I last saw them in June and I made them this cushion to say 'thank you' for their hospitality.
Cushion for A & W
As my hubby and I are imposing on our friends again, I thought that another cushion was in order. I know that they liked the last cushion so I had been keeping the fabric in order to make them a 'matching' one.
Cushion Number 2 for A & W

Cushion (2) Back
So that is another item off my 'to do' list. I am going to sew prolifically today and try and get a couple of bee blocks made…. I will report back later in the week.

Di x

Thursday, 10 October 2013

A Liberty and Linen Wallflower cushion

I have a lot of presents to make in the next week as well as bee blocks to complete. I feel a little overwhelmed with my sewing schedule and shared this with Trudi, Moria and Tanya at our get together last night. The advice was a) don't panic and b) write a list. 

So armed with my list, and deciding what was going to be sewn today, I have spent the morning making a Liberty and Linen Wallflower cushion following this excellent tutorial.

This is number one on my list with a great big tick beside it. 
Liberty and Linen Wallflower cushion
The cushion is long and thin and was an absolute horror to insert the pillow into it. As this is a birthday present for a friend, it won't be my job to take the pillow insert out when the cover requires washing and for that I am truly grateful!!! 

It was not the most pressing item on my list however it was half completed and it feels good to have a finish today.

Now onto item two…

Di x

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Frantic Bee Sewing

Since I last blogged, I have managed to do a little sewing in the manic-ness of life. 

I always try and do my bee blocks near the beginning of the month as it feels good to know that I won't be late or if things go wrong (for example, cutting your thumb with a potato peeler) then it won't affect others. This is a good principle, but I tend to find that 'life' can get in the way of good principles! 

So far, I have completed the bee blocks that Erin asked for in the Bee a Brit Stingy group. Check out this excellent tutorial. These blocks are easy and quick to do if you know your left from your right. Unfortunately that part of my brain doesn't work too well and consequently these blocks took me an age to complete. 

Herringbone block (1) for Erin

Herringbone block (2) for Erin

Herringbone block (3) for Erin
Once I had got my left and right sorted, I then was given a little help with the photoshoot!
The hipBee group are going to do some string blocks for Reene, as she is our October queen. Unfortunately Reene has had to undergo an operation recently and is still not A1, so these blocks might be done at the tail end of the month once Reene gets her troops organised for the Post Office run. This is good as I have lots of other sewing to be getting on with and relieves the pressure on me!

The final bit of bee news is that the fab girls over at Brit Bee have asked me to join them. Terri is dropping out from the regular sewing so I was asked to take her place. They have a new round starting this month and I need to sew a star block. I have ideas of paper piecing one as I so enjoyed making my cushion cover top below.
I also have a couple of secret sewing projects on the go. I can only give you a peak of the first one…
…and say that the second one involves Liberty and Linen. The latter one has to be started and completed within the next 24 hours. Yikes! I need to go…
Di x