Having been given a jelly roll and a quilting book for Christmas 2010, there is no excuse not to get on with quiltmaking.

Here's what happened next...


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 8!

Day 8 of Sue Abrey's Pick Four bloghop already - where does the time go?

The signed book copy is still being offered at Bejewelled Quilts, SewCalGal and Sew'n Wild Quilts, but before you rush off and enter, let me show you how I'm getting on with quilting Stepping Stones.

Now the body of the quilt is quilted with cream thread in a wide meander pattern, (do try to keep up), and I've spent a couple of days pondering about quilting on the borders.

I had a couple of ideas (no, you are not going to be shown my first idea - what I thought might be whimsey and cute, turned out to be - well - rubbish), then decided to do a meander pattern, but smaller than the one on the main body of the quilt.

Here's a pic - I've angled the light to make the quilting stand out here - otherwise you would hardly see it. I am very pleased with this, and when I look at again in daylight I think that I will still be very pleased with it, although I do hope that having more dense quilting round the edges won't affect the overall drape of the quilt.

Whilst I worry about that, why don't you go and have a look at today's bloghopper (hoppee?) who is Paulette at Sweet P Quilting, who has made a couple of quilts from Pick Four, and - my - they look good! I looked at how far away British Columbia is on the map, and it's so far away to the west that I'm suprised Paulette is even up yet - it is not nip-across-and-pinch-a-quilt distance.

Perhaps Sue has deliberately chosen bloggers as far away from here as possible to minimise possible beautiful quilt theft? Mind you, I stand a better chance tomorrow as Trudi is only a county or two up the road from me...watch out, Trudi!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 7!

No time to stop again today, folks, but you must head over to the Beatles-inspired post that Lynn at Sew 'n' Wild Quilts has put together for her 'day' for Sue Abrey's Pick Four! It's a real hoot, and very clever!

And if you are popping over there, do nick that beautiful halloween quilt that she's put together from Pick Four for me, won't you? I won't tell!

Remember that the draws for a signed copy of the book are still open at Silver Thimble Quilts, Magnolia Bay Quilts, Bejewelled Quilts and at SewCalGal, if you are quick!


Monday, 29 August 2011

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 6!

Just a quick one today - but whilst I am thinking about how to quilt the borders of Stepping Stones (thread decided, thank you girls, but still musing about the pattern), you have a treat in strore as SewCalGirl is reviewing a copy of Sue Abrey's Pick Four, AND she has an signed copy to give away too!

Signed copies are also up for grabs still at Silver Thimble Quilts, Magnolia Bay Quilts and Bejewelled Quilts, so what are you waiting for?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 5!

I'm sorry to be late posting this - honestly - but I kept on going with just a bit more before I take a pic for the blog, just a bit more.... and before you know it, it is mid evening and I have finished the quilting the main body of Stepping Stones - hurrah!

And I haven't told you where you are going for Day 5 of the Sue Abrey's Pick Four bloghop yet - I'll show you the quilt first, then you can whizz off to the blog hop in a mo.

I had to do a bit of unpicking and have another go where one of the corners looked a bit scrunched up, but apart from that minor set back I am quite happy with this. I even managed some little curly bits (where I'd backed myself into a corner!).

The FMQ is not terribly even, but not disastrous either, and I had a kind email through earlier from Sand & Sunshine with some links to a couple of really useful sites which have 'FMQ step by step' guides on them - thank you, m'dear - so I can do some practise pieces.

My next decision is whether to quilt the borders in the same cream thread - where it will really show up, or use the green/copper variegated thread. Not sure if quilting in different colours for the main body and the border will look a bit funny?? All advice welcome on that one.

Now you've got a blog hop to zoom off to, and I have thread-ends to bury - so off you hop to see what Barb at Bejewelled Quilts has been up to. Just look at the lovely quilt that she has made from Pick Four - it looks fab! I was tempted to make that one myself...actually I'm even more tempted to make it now!

Barb will have a signed copy of Pick Four up for grabs (and the draw is still open at Silver Thimble and at Magnolia Bay Quilts) - so what are you waiting for?

'Pick Four' Prize Draw – Addendum

Further to the Prize Draw post, Domino and Oliver wish to make clear the following:

1. Domino is sitting on ‘Helen’s Quilt’ – my only quilt finish to date. Contrary to aspersions cast, there is no food in the pot with the tickets – if there was, butterball Dom would not be looking the other way, there would be a whirl of activity while this was scoffed – with or without tickets.

2. Oliver is extremely comfortable in the spare room sitting on the quilt of another Ollie – the late and sorely missed bearded collie of the same name.

It is brushed cotton (or washed so often to within an inch of it’s life that it acts as brushed cotton) and was so kindly sent to me by Bilbo. She has no idea of the number of times it has been scrutinised in minute detail with regard to fabric matching/border balancing/binding width/quilt style and pattern, not to say sat on, pummelled, dribble on and used as prize sleeping area too, of course – er, the latter by the cats.

3. Oliver does love flippy flappy paper bit and does indeed turn into a wild chasing thing when confronting with a rolled up bits of newspaper. However, his interest in lots of pieces of paper when he would be otherwise asleep on aforementioned quilt - thank you very much – was indeed peaked by the introduction of a spray of catnip to the bowl.

He does lurrrrrrrrrrrrve proper catnip – I have a couple of pots growing in the courtyard garden and it gets him well high. Catnip spray is a poor substitute for the real thing, but it still makes Oli dribble – hence the soggy tickets.

Just to clear that up.

As you were.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

My 'Pick Four' Blop Hop Winner!

I thought that using Random.org lacked a bit of ceremony for the draw for Sue's book, so I numbered all the entries, did a ticket for each one, and asked Domino to pick one.

But he wasn't bothered about the draw - it's the making and finishing of quilts which is more up his street.

Then I asked Oliver to pick one, and he was much more helpful.

But then it all turned into a bit of a wild game, and the tickets started getting a bit soggy.

So I picked one - it is 134 - Janet. Hurrah!

Well done, Janet! An email is winging it's way all the way to the Yukon Territory in NW Canada asking for your address which I will forward to Sue & she will get your signed copy of Pick Four to you.

The rest of you better get over to Quilt Hollow (hurry up - not much time left here!), Silver Thimble, and Magnolia Bay Quilts to enter the draw - then follow the rest of the Hop for more chances to win.

Or you'll have to buy your own copy - but it is worth it, I promise.

Are you still here? You don't think I've had time to finish quilting Stepping Stones with all this excitement going do you? Come back tomorrow to see that - now off you pop!

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 4!

I've closed the comments on my Pick Four review, so you'll just have to run over to Quilt Hollow and Silver Thimble Talk if you still want a chance to win your own copy whilst I work out how to do the random number generator thingy.

Oh - I nearly forgot - it is Kim's day today at Magnolia Bay Quilts. She's already had books published, so it'll be very interesting to see an author's view of Pick Four. She'll be giving people a chance to win a copy too.

Off you go - I have some head scratching to do here - and I'll post the WINNER later!

Friday, 26 August 2011

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 3!

I do hope that you are enjoying Sue's Blog Hop as much as I am - all your lovely comments on my day on Wednesday when we started have delighted me!

Before I got stuck in to replying yesterday evening, I had another go at free machine quilting Stepping Stones - this time with an oiled-up sewing machine and cream quilting thread. Better, but I'll be scrutinising further this morning in daylight to see if I am happy with the result.

Then back to the computer - I've had some wonderful comments from 'no-reply' bloggers who haven't left me an email address which means that I can't get back in touch with you - which is going to be a bit tricky if you get drawn to win the book! The draw is open to midnight tonight (BST), so if you know that the above applies to you, leave me another comment on Wednesday's post with your email contact details.

And the techie bit for changing your settings so this doesn't happen again with the other girls on the Hop? In the blogger dashboard, 'edit profile' (left hand side by your photo) and tick 'show my email address'. Oh - and it's only the person whose blog you are leaving a comment on who can see your email address.

And now, you need to get yourselves off to Pat at Silver Thimble Talk - I'll be over soon to see what she has to say about Pick Four. She will be giving away a signed copy too - it's like Christmas, but knowing what the present will be! (Well, that's if your Christmas has an element of disappointment in that you might not get a present - or that you have to buy the present yourself - but for ten people it will be like Christmas. Oh stop it - you know what I mean.)

I loved seeing Mary at Quilt Hollow's wonderful Antique Nine Patch quilt yesterday - isn't it a stunner? If North Carolina wasn't so far away, I'd be across to steal it off her in a flash! Her book giveaway will be drawn on Saturday, so if you haven't participated, what are you waiting for...?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 2!

I am overwhelmed by all your lovely comments yesterday - thank you very much! I'll be coming back to you in due course (and poking my nose in around your blogs too, if you don't mind). You can still leave a comment for me as I won't be closing the draw for your own autographed copy of Pick Four until the end of the week.

Whilst you are at a loose end today, though, waiting for me to finish unpicking my unsuccessful attempt at FMQ at the weekend (it is taking bloody hours - note to self for future reference - if you are unsure about any aspect of your quilting do NOT just plough on regardless), tootle on over to Mary at Quilt Hollow who is your host for today for Sue Abrey's Pick Four bloghop.

Move along - nothing to see here - unpicking baaaaaad quilting is not a spectator sport!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

'Pick Four' Blog Hop - Day 1!

Good morning, good morning - what an exciting day this is!

Normally, there’s just me rattling on here and a handful of quilting chums metaphorically drinking tea and eating cake (all right, me moaning on about how difficult this quilting lark is and the FairyGodmother Quilters telling me not to be such a wet hen) but today, you join me on the first stop QuiltSue’s blog hop, where Sue Abrey has asked me to review her new book, Pick Four.


I am delighted to not only be involved, but be the FIRST STOP on the hop – so come on in, take a seat – there’s tea in the pot – and let me tell you all about it…

Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that I am not going to be able to write a particularly informed piece on this as I am rather a novice quilter. In fact, I pieced my first two bits of fabric together at the beginning of this year, and to date I have completed a set of practice table mats and just one quilt from a jelly roll that my big sister Helen gave me for Christmas – called Helen’s Quilt.

Of course, I am working on Cathi & Sue's Christmas QAL Scatty Stars quilt, and then there is the Project that I have been working on for the past three weeks.

But Sue said that I was perfect to review her book, as if I could follow it then any old dingbat will be able to get on with it I am the ‘target market’ which the publishers wish to aim at, so I have been ‘road testing’ one of the designs, Stepping Stones (don’t tell me that you hadn’t realised what I was up to for the past three weeks, regular faces?).

How I would love to tell you that I have pieced, sandwiched, quilted and bound the quilt in 3 weeks flat! I was making a pretty decent go of it, but – alas – that wasn’t quite to be, due to a hitch with the choice of thread that I was having a go with for the free machine quilting.

I’ve been banging on about the nuts and bolts of how I am getting on with it on my previous posts – if you are really keen, just go back to 5th August post, and work forward – by the way, if you have an idea for what I should call this quilt, do feel free make suggestions.

But enough ramblings – you want to know about the BOOK, and the PRIZE, don’t you?

I’m sure that the other girls will be showing you plenty of Sue’s gorgeous designs through the next ten days – there are twelve quilts in all – but the one thing that I wanted to focus on is the other bits – how is the quilter going to get on with this book?

Is it worth parting with your hard-earned cash? Having seen a design they like, are they going to be able to actually get themselves something lovely at the other end of it, or will they be throwing the book across with room with an anguished cry of ‘what do you mean!?’

Fear not – there are no nightmares here! And this is why – the book does not give you a design and say 'get on with it', it takes you through a number of important stages.

1 Fabric selection – absolutely vital for the novice, and surely considered reading for the more experienced quilter! And with just four fabrics to have to get your head around (the clue is in the book title, people) this is ideal for the ‘new quilters’ who haven’t built up wardrobes full of fabric bolts to mix and match as the fancy strikes.

Sue talks about how to choose what goes with what – brilliant and foolproof! I am sure that there are lots of people to whom matching stuff comes easily, but there are also a lot of people like me who are a bit hopeless – so I can’t tell you enough how helpful this section is.

2 Concise, no nonsense 'how to make a quilt’ section, including sections on how to cut, piece, press, sandwich, bind.

3 Designs – from beginner to quilts for the more experienced quilter – you’ll be seeing a LOT more of these, so I won’t steal the other girls’ thunder!

4 Good step by step instructions for each quilt – inc. clear shopping list, cutting list, piecing (which way to press seams so they nestle together nicely – not just the cop out of ‘oh, just press towards the darker fabric' – what if you have equally dark fabrics adjacent??). Attention to detail means that – for example – with my Stepping Stones quilt, Sue says ‘there will be a block left over’ – how long would I have pondered and worried about that if it hadn’t been said?

5 Alternative colourways – it’s always a struggle for me to differentiate between whether I like a quilt DESIGN or the designer’s FABRIC so Sue shows each quilt with a number of alternative colourways. The different colours make such a difference! In fact, the purist in me did toy with the idea of only ever making one quilt design in my whole life over and over with different fabrics, just to see how different the same quilt would look. I gave myself a bit of shake and decided against this.

6 Quilting options – as Sue says, “I got cross with patterns which said ‘quilt as desired’”, and this is quite right – how dare a pattern take you this far and drop you at the end? Surely, how you do the quilting makes a massive difference to the finished article?! In a very useful general section as well as a ‘why I did this’ section at the end of each design, Sue explains the thinking behind the quilting.

I wanted to tell you a Bit About The Author, but I’ve banged on long enough – the tea’s getting cold and you’ll want to get on.

I love this book (can you tell?) which could have been written just for me – and I’ve loved being involved with this blog hop! Thank Sue for giving me the opportunity to foist my opinions onto you all, so until next time…

…what’s that? You’ve come all this way and I haven’t told you how to win a prize? Oh!

The PRIZE to the lucky winner is – of course – a copy of Sue Abrey’s Pick Four. It’s a signed copy (which is more than my copy is, might I add). You will love it – I promise – experienced quilters will love the designs, and novice quilters will be able to achieve them too.

My pea brain gets a bit confused with the complexities of some ‘giveaways’ so this is really simple. Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll enter you into a random number draw on Saturday morning (BST). If you are ‘no-reply blogger’, you’ll have to sort your settings out and not be so darn elusive, or include your email address in your reply.

If you don’t win the prize this time, you may get lucky again – as for each day of the nine remaining days of the blog hop there is another copy being given away – AND you get to visit some entertaining and clever quilters who will be giving their take on Sue Abrey’s Pick Four. Next stop, tomorrow, is Mary at Quilt Hollow….

Otherwise, you are just going to have to put your hand in your pocket and buy your own copy from Martingales or Amazon.

I do hope that you’ve enjoyed looking at Sue’s book with me, thank you for being here – and good luck in the draw!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Good News and A Right Pain!

I'll start with the good news - It is the start of Sue's 'Pick Four' blog hop tomorrow, for which I am ..... drum roll.... the first blogger - I am so excited!

I also gave the sewing machine a bit of a going over earlier with a brush, and a dot of oil here and there in accordance with the manual and it is now purring along smooth as anything - hurrah!

And the bad news is that I have spent a second evening undoing all the quilting that I did on Sunday evening AND I haven't finished. How come it only took an hour or so to do, and this long to undo?

Monday, 22 August 2011

Difficult Decisions...

I've decided that a cream thread would be much easier on the eye for quilting this particular quilt - as this is my first go at free machine quilting, having such a striking thread - although beautiful - is rather unforgiving for the novice!

Over to Hobbycraft later, and an evening of unpicking ahead, I think....

What a shame that I couldn't press on - there's rather a good reason that I had hoped to be able to get this finished for Wednesday...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Musings of a Free Machine Quilter!

Thoughts following this evening's progress:

-I've broken two needles (something to do with the quilting foot - the plastic presser is very close to where the needle strikes down - I may have to do a little 'adjusting' with a file)

-I can only do about ten mins at a time before the shoulders ache

-the pickup on the needle is not smooth when you apply your foot to the pedal. This is not an issue when piecing, but it is when quilting - I'd like a needle speed of somewhere in the middle of 'needle stationary' and 'needle doing a million stitches per second'. Not sure if this is something that would improve if I had the machine serviced (something long overdue, I'm sure).

-the thread breaks too easily (the top tension seems to have to be twanging tight in order to keep the bottom thread from looping)

-It is much quicker to free machine quilt than ever I had thought - I was surprised to find that this evening's session has seen about a quarter of the body of the quilt complete

-I am seriously less than smooth in manouevering the quilt over the plate - stitch consistancy does not bear close scrutiny!

-I've not made a good choice with the quilting thread - I've used a varigated copper/green which picks up the darker colours really well, but this shows up far to strongly on the pale colours. Cream would have worked better, I think.

But as a first effort this is not too shoddy, though - and although I'm mulling over the latter two points (not ruling out unpicking and starting again), I am actually very pleased with the overall look of the thing.

On balance, a good night.

Biting The Bullet...

... and trying to remember to breathe!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Quilt Top Finish!

Well I am having such a brilliant evening! Here is my current project top all finished and ready for making up into a quilt!

That's a week and a half for this novice quilter to put a whole quilt top together - to put that in context, my concentration only allows for stints of about an hour and a half at a time, I work full time and this includes the busiest weekend of the year in terms of my other hobby - not to mention the QAL and a visit to the Festival of Quilts.

There's so much in the instructions that has helped - from telling me that I will have a spare block left over to which way to press the seams at each step which means that everything all nestles together nicely to help get your points all matching up.

This all leads to stress-free quilting - exactly what you need if your new to the hobby. No throwing the instructions across the room with a plaintiff wail of 'what do you mean?!'

Moving this on, it was by chance (the Quilting Gods a-smilin' down on me again) that I have the perfect backing in a pair of curtains which I bought from the charity shop a month or so back - although I'll need to piece them together to get a piece large enough.

Another piece of good fortune is that when I measured the spare batting I have, the quilt will JUST (with about 3/4" to spare) fit widthways to leave me with a good usable piece left over.

And I found out why all my fabrics are in need of pressing before I use them - this is Domino doing a quick exit from the scraps basket where he had clearly spent much of the afternoon.

In other news, I am also VERY excited as there is a Special Event in blogland going on from the middle of next week for ten days which I am cock-a-hoop to be involved with! All I can say at the mo is that it may pay dividends for you to BE HERE next Wednesday!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Quilting Gods?

After my grumpy post the other day about the Scatty Christmas Stars QAL quilt, the fairygodmother quilters Sue and Bilbo both recommended changing the railfence blocks - they being too strong for the star blocks, rather than my conclusion of changing the background on the star blocks, them being too weedy.

I had been all set to change the background of the star blocks into something stronger, so I had a grand dither of the first order.

Someone was looking down on me, though, as a very quick scout round the local Salvation Army shop yesterday lunchtime produced an outsized cotton top in grey with roses, and a yard and a half of rather lovely curtain fabric, and I'm thinking that the yellow part of the curtain can be the outer rails, and the grey-with-roses as the inner.

You'll have to use your imagination a bit here - and ignore the cat's bottom as he exits stage right. It looks good to me - mind you, I'll still have some serious wrestling to do when putting the railfences together with some of the star blocks, what with the latter being a bit dodgy, but it's going to be less time consuming re-doing the railfences than the star blocks.

In other news, as they say, I have put the skinny border onto my current project - the fat border & corners to piece and sew and I'll be ready for quilting!

The Festival of Quilts (yes, I know, pics soon, I promise!) has given me lots of ideas on that score, so much so that I keep changing my mind...

Monday, 15 August 2011


First the good news - I've finished piecing the top of my current project!

Next stop is the skinny border to piece, cut and sew on - I can't tell you how delighted I am with this one! It is an absolute pleasure.

However, things are not all rosy in the garden - I have hit a hitch of the first order with regard to the Scatty Stars Christmas Quiltalong quilt. I knew that there was something not pleasing to my eye when I posted the other day, and that the quilt looked austere - I could have used the word disconnected or flat instead.

Not the fault of the design, but of my fabric choices - and big sister Helen who was up for the weekend put her finger on it right away, saying, 'It's too 'checkerboard' all the contrast is between the star blocks and the rail fence blocks, not the stars and the rest of the quilt. If the stars had a different background they would jump out much better.'

Everyone should have a big sister Helen.

So - what is to be done about this? I can either
(a) press on with the quilt as it is, and have something which will get on my nerves everytime I see it
(b) stick it in a cupboard unfinished in a grump, kicking the cat on the way
(c) rescue the situation now by redoing the star blocks.

The latter sounds wildly drastic but this is something I would contemplate for another reason - it has crossed my mind on more than one occasion as to how I am possibly going to shoehorn the blocks together.

Because the first few star blocks are a bit 'first-time' on the seam allowances (not to mention having pressed the life out of them with all that means with regard to the incredible shrinking cream fabric) so perhaps this is not quite the nuclear option that it might first appear to be.

I still like the idea of yellow & cream for the stars, and for the star background, a dress fabric that I have had tidied away for years. I have four weeks to the next QAL Saturday, so I have time to get back up to speed. I may even incorporate these stars into the backing...see, I'm feeling better about it already!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Christmas Quiltalong! August, pt4

I couldn't resist a quick half hour at the machine before bedtime (now rather overdue) - so I finished piecing the strips and cutting them into rail fence blocks.

I think that it looks rather austere, but I have a flame red fabric for the thin border, which I hope will give the design a lift and if I have enough, I could use the flame red for the binding too.

Talking of designs, one of the pleasures for me of these monthly quiltalong days has been to see what everyone else around the world is up to which I've not managed to do properly this time round - so tomorrow I will be sure to catch up.

Is is just me who is still astounded by the fact that there are people thousands of miles apart who have totally different lives, situations and cultures who are sitting down at the same time to produce a dozen variations on the same quilt design?
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