Athens time

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Giveaway on P.S.I blog

Rachel is giving away one $50 Gift Certificate courtesy of the Fat Quarter Shop.

Run along and enter. Entries close August 1st, there is still time !

Good luck everyone

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Quilting done!

Nearly there ! I bet you have never seen anybody make such a meal over a quite simple quilt! But I am nearly there, nearly all done!

I have completed the quilting!!

I am really pleased even though it is not all even everywhere, it was good giving it a first go! Anyone still scared... Go for it! You learn on the way. Especially with all the peeps over at Old Red Barn/Park City group giving advice !

I got used to seeing the 'weird coral fingers' and I believe that when you wash later on it all puffs up nicely inbetween!
and only a tiny few bits like that on the back.... (I pinned so carefully and made sure to keep everything straight... how did that happen?) but you hardly see it, especially if you don't know... so we aren't going to tell anyone are we ? :-)

Binding next. I have done that before so feel a lot happier about that... Last leg...

Friday, 24 July 2009

It's going well

I have really gone for it and am half way! Yay!! I am really speeding up now and it is a little easier with the practice. I am not keen on the pattern I am making (something like weird coral fingers...) but it looks nice if you look at the quilt overall and not too close up.

Must find some other patterns and try it out. Maybe mark the quilt before doing it? I wonder how you would do that... pencil? Anyone know?

But that is for later quilts. First getting on with this one. I must say, it is starting to look a lot nicer now it's getting quilted! I can't wait to finish bind and wash!!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

A little update....

The quilting is getting along... very slowly! It's been a bit busy with sons flying in and out..

Little bit like the kestrels! I hadn't seen the fledglings for a wile and assumed they had flown without me noticing, but no! They are now out and about in the sunshine.. Beginning of the week, sitting a bit wobbly on a branch, today, soaring in the winds and trying to land on a branch against a stiff breeze (and failing... a delight to see the youngster hover and trying to make a landing), then soaring away on the current. A priviledge to see. They are too quick for me though, not being a photographer, I don't know how to 'snap' them quickly...

See.. he's just flying out of range at the edge of the photo (and looking at me with what I am sure is a smile on his face!) and everything is out of focus......

But back to quilting!!

I have received a comment from Evelyn about turning the machine towards you when you quilt. Thanks for that tip Evelyn! I tried it, but totally turning does not work for me as I look against the end of the machine and then cannot see what I am doing. However, turning slightly, about 90 degrees works really well. You can feed the fabric through and it bunches up less as there is more space right and left for it to go! So I am now quilting askew!

I have found that if I put the option I have on my machine to sew at half speed and then go full gas on the pedal, the speed is just about right. I am learning to get stitching more even and to have more rounded curves. Just to see (and as I realized it is going to take a very long time this way) I switched it to full speed... Man, did I get some strange shapes and stitches! It was scary! So in spite of the fact that after 4 hrs quilting I only have done 5 out of 36 squares (no, I haven't done the math to see how long it will take me for the quilt... I daren't! taking it one square at the time!), I will leave it on half motion for now...

I also have found these wonderful gloves.

They are from John Lewis (Department Store) and are gardening gloves "wet 'n dry". The fingers and inside the hand are rubberised and have these ridges for added grip. The gloves themselves are quite soft (see back of the hand) and even though you feel like the Incredible Hulk.. they grip the fabric like amazing!

Just to let you guys know I am still at it.... Just been busy washing, packing, dropping at airport, picking up, washing, repacking dropping off etc...

I will get there !!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Quilting has started !

I have started to quilt and my... that is hard... you have to keep the quilt moving at an even pace, and also think about the pedal and gripping the quilt...

I started in the middle as I read somewhere you should do, and anticipated doing one end, then turning and doing the other, so (in theory) you only have half the quilt under the machine... However, I find that I quilt best when 'writing' from right to left, so all the material is bunching up under the machine (instead of disappearing where there is space... ), and I just don't have the space there !

I find with the quilting, that once I have made a successful swirl and know where I am going, I speed up and end up with giant stiches. If I am not sure where to go next, I hestitate and have the stitches teeny weeny... I'd rather not stop the flow if I can help it,as again, when I start again you really see it as the stitch seem to 'jump' to a great length away!

You can see here how uneven it is, but hey, it is all learning and I'm sure I'll get better... (she said encouraging to herself...) I am sure it would be much easier if the pattern were to be drawn out on the quilt but I have not learnt how to do that (grafite paper does not work..).

Just wanted to let you guys know I've work is actually in progress!
Apologies - Flickr photostream...

I must apologize to those who have commented on my Flickr photo stream and I have not got back to. I really appreciate each and every comment and endeavour to answer them all if possible!

Somehow, I am checking the blog entries, but it did not occur to me to check the photos in the stream that are not on the blog! Thank you for your comments! (Claudia, Catherine, everyone!!) I really appreciate each and every one of them.

I promise to better my life and check my photostream too from now on... (darned, there are so many functions to blogger, flickr etc etc... I am still not quite on top of it all.... )

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Another quilt, by popular demand..

I have shown you my first quilt (several times:-), the blue quilt, being the first one I ever finished. Not to be confused with the first I started (or the 2nd 3rd 4th and so on....only kidding, not that many... honest.....). But I am counting completed quilts only.

I also posted the 3rd one, the lapquilt with the panel 'Footsteps in the sand' blogged about near the beginning of this blog.

You are seeing the birth of the 4th one, my Old Red Barn Company sew-along quilt, which is now sandwiched and waiting for quilting.

Many people have asked to see the 2nd quilt. which is a double full bed quilt. Not being very experienced I had a lot of trouble with this one. A LOT!!! but I won't bore you apart from saying it had to do with not having enough fabric and getting around it by skimping on seam allowances... ahum... NOT a good idea !!! I had it longarm quilted in the end as I wanted it ready by Christmas. The poor longarm quilter just about lost the will to live, but she has since realized it was inexperience and not maliciousness on my part, so I am forgiven..:-)

It turned out beautifully in the end and the lovely quilting she did is holding it together very well. We did each a fair amount of repairs and I will remember this learning experience for a long time to come! But DH was very pleased with it, so that's allright in the end. Phew....

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Midnight Sandwich...

No, I wasn't hungry... I was making the quilt sandwich at the only time I get time to do some sewing, in the evening and at night.

I was determined to get this done yesterday so pieced the backing (I won't mention that it is not totally square across as I am of course the only one who sees this :-).

Then laid it out (I did remember to turn it over, yes, thanks..) and made the sandwich..
Excuses for the bad lighting, but it WAS midnight.. (or actually 1.30am by then). And pinned it all down;
No more excuses now... next job is definitely stippling! Stay tuned!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

My First and Last Quilts

Over on Simplify, Camille RossKelly's blog, there is a challenge to tell you all about your very first quilt, and your last and what you have learnt..

This seems like fun, and even though I have all together maybe quilted just under a year, I have learnt a lot !!

This is my first quilt:

I had made all the blocks in a workshop at sewing circle but not put them together. So I went and got some fabric, made an amazing find of a 100% cotton french designer sheet, and set about to put it all together. Don't you just love the dot pattern on the sheet (that I used for a border and backing ) ? sort of retro and psychedelic all at once and fitting so well with the blocks. It took me a long time to put it all together. And even longer to quilt it ! (First quilting... massive stitches.. still can't do the little uns...), but it was finally finish last December 2008.

I have actually shown this recently on my blog before (being a newbie blogger too..) so some of you will remember it!

My latest quilt is a quilt I am making for the Old Red Barn Quilt along. As I handstitched and handquilted my first one, this is the one I am machine stitching and machine quilting.

The top is finished;

But the backing needs some more piecing and I need to then do the quilt sandwich. I am trying to practice stippling... but I never get it just right... It's all not really flowing and far too close together.. I have to practice a bit more before trying it on the big quilt!!

I learnt so much from all my peeps on the sewalong. It's fantastic group with a mix of very helpful knowledgeable people on it, as well as newbies like me so we can struggle along together and encourage each other.

I learnt about matching up corners, ironing being important (!!) not to skimp on seam allowances (!) and much more of those basic things, which, as soon as you've learnt them you take for granted, but also which, if you don't know them can make life soooo difficult!

Thanks guys over at Old Red Barn! Dana and all that have given me such generous advice (I won't even start on names!) it's been grand.

Katie Cupcake complete kit giveaway!

This kit of Amy Butler fabrics is on offer as a giveaway on Kati Cupcake's site . It measures 60" x 68 1/4 when finished. Wouldn't you just love to have that?

If you go and enter, please mention you saw it here and I get an extra entry for sending you.

I just like to look at it... sure brightens up the blog! Brill, thanks for the giveaway Katie.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A Parcel arrived!

A parcel from Australia arrived... I knew what it was! it was the long awaited book from Australia, Material Obsessions2. Written by Sarah Fielke ( ) and Kathy Doughty.

I took of the paper and the carefully wrapped book appeared....

It looked nice even wrapped up! Then I unwrapped and saw the book;

I quickly flicked it through, and it is more than the hype promises!! It is fantastic and if you vaguely thought of getting it, but weren't sure! Do it now!! it's superb!

I will peruse it at my leisure and tell more in a future post. Just wanted to give you advance warning, so you can order it whilst you are waiting to read about it here! :-)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

After the rain...

The skies were laden and heavy raindrops started falling this afternoon. You stick your nose out of the door and you smell the dusty asphalt getting wet. We needed this nice downpour!

Here is a tugboat coming back into harbour just after the rain stopped. The sea still green and the skies laden. In the distance you can just see the silhouette of a tanker passing through the English Channel. The white line behind the tugboat is a line of breaking waves onto the treacherous Goodwin Sands. A sandbank that has seen a fair amount of wrecks in its days.

After the rain had stopped, Raf and I went to the park... It was deserted! Everything just a little wet but not too much and wonderfully fresh! Rafael had a lovely time running in the wet grass.

A bee was unperturbed by the drops still flowing off the petals and went about its duty collecting nectar.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Kite Surfing

Tonight, there is a severe weather warning in place and the forecast is for heavy rain squalls, thunder and lightening.....

The weather is allready turning and although sunny still, it is very blustery and the 'white horses' (white tops of the waves) are allready forming and increasing.

Fine weather for the kite surfers ! One is getting ready on the beach, the other just turning the corner (you can't see him, he is hiding behind the board).

It looks like great fun!

And it goes terribly fast! Sometimes they get lifted high above the water... Real dare devils!
Kestrel in the Sun

It was a bright breezy sunny morning this morning, and the kestrel was taking full advantage, sitting in the sun, keeping a good eye out below for what was happening on the beach, and also in the verge (nice fieldmouse perhaps??)

I have only seen her twice this entire year (although I know where she normally 'hangs out') and suddenly twice in a row! Bit like London busses... nothing for half an hour and then three come along at once...

I found the bigger zoom on the camera, but it means you set the pixels from 10 megapixel to about 2... so even if you do get closer, it means the image is not so clear. Also you get a lot more problems with camera shake... So after trying it, I decided to stick with the 18x zoom I had yesterday at 10 mega pix and try and blow it up later. These are taken with the bigger zoom, still not as close as I had hoped....

Oh, I have been spotted... and mum flew off... Might that have had something to do with incessant barking of a not nearer defined furry animal at my side who did not get any attention? Rule no 1.. If you are doing wild life photography, do not bring naughty doggies...

Information on Kestrels;

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Yesterday I saw one of the parakeets in the park;

The official story is that about 30 to 40 odd years ago, a parakeet escaped from captivity, survived, and not only that, very happily lived in the wild for ever after. This is a sweet story, but there are several parks that now have established colonies (ours being one of them) and not only in this county, in several others too! This must have been one very busy bird I reckon...

This morning however, I saw a kestrel, who is nesting nearby (the fledgelings, 3 this year, have now gone). Not sure whether this is mum or dad. I think it's mum. Isn't she magnificent? (if not very close up, couldn't get the zoom to work properly at the crucial moment!)

(If you double click on the photo, you will get a better and larger view)

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Totes, Tears and in Tatters..

Hi everyone, a quick post to tell you all what I have been up to! I didn't mean to be away for long... But then life took over, as it does..

Firstly it was end of school and we all know how busy that is.. Then both my boys were flying off within a day of each other, and on top of that I had a migraine.. I get those, it's horrible, but luckily all gone now. The boys flown off too, so getting a chance to catch up!

I have not made any progress on the Old Red Barn Co quilt along at all... Mainly because it's been busy (see above) but also because I had this wonderful idea of making a totebag....

I found a tutorial, very easy, just cut off a strip for the handles, fold, fold again, sew, then sew two teatowels together, add handles.. Bob's your uncle.... "I can do that, I thought... easy!" and it did look fairly simple....

Of course you have to take into account that I am beginner... and believe me.. It wasn't easy!!

Added to that the fact I thought I'd have to add some lining , so I doubled the teatowel allowance (I abandonned the inside pocket I was planning after running into trouble after trouble....). Also I had bought good (designer) ones.. so they were thicker than your average towel.. Feel where this is going? Right... exactly!!

I deliberated whether to take the nicely finished edges off. Then thought, better not, this way, they don't fray!! So left them on.... Are you adding with me? One edge folded over and folded over again then stitched onto the towel is a finished edge of 3 layers of fabric. Double that for both sides together is 6 layers of fabric... Then double that again as you have exactly the same for the inside lining... 12 layers of fabric all nicely bunched up! I broke 3 needles..... THREE! and then took it all apart and hacked as much off as I could..

Lesson one: take the selfedges off but also the nicely finished edges... They are too THICK!.. I was speaking about the fabric... ahum....

Then I resolved to not follow the pattern and turn the whole thing 90 degrees so the stripes would go vertically, I thought it looked better 'slimmer' (now how do I know these things... mmm....) and in general a better fit. Well that was ok were it not I had made the applique first and had planned to sew it in the middle of the bag, not round the edges....

Lesson two, don't make the applique first and fit the bag around it, do it the other way around.

Anyhow, got the applique on (quite enjoyed making that! It was the first time ever I appliqued this way, I stitched around every piece. even tried some decorative stitching but decided that maybe that was for another time.... after the one bit....) and made it fit and it didn't even go around the corner.

Still... if you look closely inside the bag and how the lining is finished, you still see a huge bobble... but who lives inside?? you won't see it, will you?

Lesson three, if you must have lining, make it a thin one.. (and cut the bound edges off...).

This bag was not without it's tribulations, and has seen quite a few midnight hours... So if you happen to get a tote in the mail soon.... Don't look inside !!!!

(sorry, it's only one of you... not that my other peeps would want one after this description! I will learn... eventually....) :-)