Great Expectations…

Again I meant to blog ages ago but things got a little busy… Firstly I was preparing for the arrival of my little one, who in great expectations of her arrival I got busy creatively, of course!

Preparing her nursery we decided that we would have a central theme of giraffes. Neither my husband nor I are tall but perhaps that is the appeal!

We decided on yellow and grey for her room and I set to work on creating a quilt, cushion, lamp and a giraffe themed mobile.

The quilt and cushion came about following another lesson at Hometown in Rochester. This time the workshop was entitled cookie cutter quilts. The idea being to create a quilt with appliqué shapes made from cookie cutters!

I set about finding animal shapes including a giraffe, elephant, a hippo and a flamingo…. Yes a flamingo.

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I kept the central colours as yellow and grey to match the nursery but I went all out in choosing the colours for the animals. Here I was finally able to raid that massive hoard of fabric, I had been harbouring for an undefined project.

I have to say, the Liberty print giraffe has to be my favourite! Though I definitely have a soft spot for those flamingos! One the fabrics used was one of my very first purchases. Knew it would come in handy one day.

I then made a matching cushion, this time the hippo got the Liberty effect!

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The mobile again was created using the cookie cutter shape and then stuffed with left over quilt filling ripped up. I then used ribbons to attach the giraffes to two different sized embroidery hoops, which were in turn covered in ribbons. I fastened them with double sided tape that is used in lampshade making.

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Finally the finishing touch, a giraffe lampshade.

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When we finished decorating the room, I found the circus quilt I made a few years ago with amazing circus fabric, we hung this up on the grey wall. As you can see the colours really pop!

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Anyway, slightly earlier than planned our little one arrived in May. I am doing my best to look after her and make time for sewing. However it is not surprising that my productivity levels have somewhat reduced!

I do, however, hope that I will be able to pass on my love of sewing to my little one when she is a little bit older! But for now I’m just getting her used to the soothing sounds of the sewing machine.

Xxx

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QuiltedBird on Tour – Frome & Amsterdam

The Quilted Bird is nothing, if not dedicated and a little sneaky!

Amsterdam

New KLM flights have been flying from Manston in Kent to Amsterdam this year, so Husband and I set off on a weekend away. We arrived in a very sunny Amsterdam, middle of a heatwave… and I’m still in quilting mode (never out of it really!). Having done a little sneaky bit of research online before we left, I suggested we take a walk around town…

What’s this I say… Why it’s a quilt shop… What are the odds?

Husband not impressed 🙂 sneak wife one… Husband nil!

BirdBlocks shop

Fortunately he was patient enough for me to have a look around, he is a quilter’s husband after all. Birdblocks was a shop crammed with vibrant fabrics! Too exciting for words! Alongside the beautiful Moda, Michael Miller and batiks, there were other more unusual fabrics including some with glitter.

I love the little block design on the shop’s labels.

The shop had some beautiful packs made up, so I selected one of these and some interesting looking batiks. They had a wonderful quilt hanging up that had a scene of Amsterdam on it… Was tempted to buy the pattern but you know I have more than enough quilts on the go already!!!

Birdblocks label

Happy with my purchases in my hand, we could move on 🙂 I am sure husband is plotting revenge… Maybe a sports museum somewhere??

The rest of the holiday passed with no other sneaky behaviour… Except maybe the purchase of a Dutch Miffy… Well when in the Netherlands….

Frome, Somerset

A couple of weekends ago we had the privilege to visit friends in Wiltshire and thought we would spend Saturday afternoon in near by Frome. Frome is a beautiful town with little side streets hiding lots of interesting independent shops.

I had heard lots of exciting things about the town and was looking forward to nosing around the shops. Catherine Hill has lots of interesting shops, lots of arts and crafts, as well as vintage and independent clothes shops thrown into the mix.

Catherine HillFrome street

I popped into Millie Moon, a small haberdashery, with some quirky fabrics on sale. I purchased some bits and looked at their course list which had lots of interesting sessions coming up… Though a 6 hour round trip might be a bit extreme for me! But if you live in the area check it out!

Further up the road, Mary Kilvert has a shop selling her fantastic sheep design on mugs, tea towels and bags as well as many other of her own designs. The sheep design came from a children’s book Mary wrote.

Mary Kilvert Tote Bag, Copyright Mary Kilvert

Mary Kilvert Tote Bag, Copyright Mary Kilvert

I loved the shop, and couldn’t leave without a little purchase. My sheep tote bag has attracted lots of attention and I love telling the story about the sheep. You can buy Mary Kilvert goodies from her website http://www.marykilvert.com/

We then ventured to the other side of town which has lots of fantastic interior design shops giving us lots of ideas for the house. The independent clothes shops has some fantastic statement clothes, one particular dress I am still dreaming about today!

We finished the afternoon at the Black Swan Arts & Craft centre which again had lots of quirky pieces including lots of independent designers.

Independent shops seem to be making a comeback in recent years and I love getting presents (both for me and others 🙂 ) that might be a little different and not so easily found.

I would thoroughly recommend an afternoon spent in this town!

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Whilst I am like everyone, a little sad that summer seems to be coming to an end, it has been a good one.

I have been busy working and finishing a couple more quilts which is why I have been a bit quiet. This includes the 2CV quilt depicting a summer holiday in beautiful France. The panels were bought last autumn at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexander Palace. I loved them and particularly the little 2CV car that features throughout. You can get this fabric from http://www.boutis.com/ or they quite often visit the UK’s biggest quilt shows such as Ally Pally and the Festival of quilts.

2CV  Quilt Completed

I decided to embroider details on the panels to make features stand out for example the sun, trees, flowers and of course the Eiffel Tower that features in the middle panel. To finish I machine quilted, I’m getting better at it, which means there is fractionally less swearing that goes on!

Eiffel Tower and 2CV

I won’t lie the millions of French knots used for flower details drove me nuts! But think it was worth it in the end. I also ‘drove’ my husband nuts by calling the quilt my CV2 quilt 🙂 I know what it is really called but didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to annoy!

Cows and 2CV

 

We both love the finish article and will be keeping it to display in our house.

Another project I have been working on is a baby quilt for good friends of ours who had their first baby recently. The gender was to be kept a surprise until the birth, so I chose neutral green colours with some funky fabrics in between. My favourite is the sheep fabric! It is awesome.

If you look closely you’ll see windmill shapes in the quilt.

Baby Quilt with sheep!

Now we are entering autumn I am hoping my productivity levels might go up. Not least because quilting when it is cold is an added bonus as it keeps you warm 🙂

I am sure I don’t need to tell you that no sooner were the two quilts finished, I was straight onto my next projects. On involving thousands of tiny squares and my first paper pieced hexagon number… Watch this space!

Onwards Autumn…. May you contain many more quilting antics!

Back to Black…

I have been quilting for a number of years now and I have noticed that I love bright colours but equally I love to use black backgrounds. I was talking to a fellow quilter who doesn’t like using black and when looking at quilts I can’t say I have seen many that actually do. I think that the black showcases the bright fabrics enhancing the colours rather than swamping them.

My very first quilt which some of you may have already seen, was backed with black and white stars, I chose it because I thought it would make the reds POP!

Start at the Beginning

Which I think does its job! It almost looks 3D.

Its not the first time I have used Black and Red together, whilst creating a Dresden plate quilt I also used Red and Black. The quilt now hangs proudly in our living room, mostly because I am shocked I managed to do a ‘Dresden’ with points and everything!!

Close up!

Am I convincing you yet that black and colours are the way to go???

Can you see that it makes you notice the fabrics more?

But there is nothing like LIME GREEN and Black!

Green and Black - Copy

Note the points again! Obviously I was feeling adventurous, this quilt caused me unbelievable quilt stress! Mostly because the start of it involved a protractor!! I had to go buy one, who knew that those were useful beyond the class room and that they were capable of making something so beautiful. Also there was some stress whilst compiling the blocks which for some reason was one of those that tested my brain and I had to keep checking and checking again that they were right! I’m breaking out into a cold sweat just thinking about it!!

Needless to say we kept this one, not least because of the awesome safari fabric complete with Rhinos, Giraffes and Elephants…What’s not to like!

Pink and Black - Copy

Pink and yellow also work, there’s something art deco about this design and more so because the of the black background, did I mention that it makes patterns POP too??

In fact lets face it, black works with all the colours of the rainbow!

Rainbow and Black

This one was my own design made for my Father in Law’s 60th birthday. A lightning rainbow, I love the fabrics in this one, possibly because there are so many!

I don’t want you to think I am biased though, not all my quilts have a black background, even I admit that would get boring so just to even this blog up ever so slightly, here is a quilt backed in cream! Also good for making colours POP!

Purple and Cream!

This was a mammoth project and will be the first and last time I make a King Size quilt! The fabrics were bought on a whim (surprise surprise!) My favourite is the deep purple flowers. However I’ve just noticed, I have used black again!! Oh dear, well it does make the colours POP! 🙂

Well hopefully I have inspired you to pick up the black fabric next time you are contemplating a new design!

Making mistakes, after all nobody should be perfect!

They say that the Amish deliberately make mistakes when creating their quilts because only God should be perfect. Now if I was being honest I would have to say that the mistakes I make are not deliberate, but are mostly accidents when either not playing attention or through some annoying interference from unknown forces!

I always start out with good intentions, meticulously cutting the fabric, blocking my blocks and then carefully piecing and ‘easing’ pieces in to position. But sometimes (most of the time) something goes ever so slightly wrong.

This is where you get ‘Character’, ‘uniqueness’ and anything else that means there is no way you could repeat the mistake again! Even if you wanted to, that is the law of quilting mistakes.

Now I am not sure I should be pointing out some of these but just to make you feel better, here are some of my ‘interesting characteristic’ parts of my quilts made to date!

Those ships…

Ships going their own way

are supposed to be sailing the same direction, but they decided not to, some were on the side of the Spanish Armada it seems….

Not to mention I accidentally used wadding intended for oven gloves to make this, mmmm toasty!! And ridiculously hard to quilt!

The elephants that despite spending ages laying out the blocks…

Big CircusCircus Quilt

still ended up on the same row!

And the age old quilting issue, those patterns or colours that congregate together somehow…

Light Blues play together

even thought you tried to make sure they didn’t! All the light blue fabrics are at the top of the quilt.

I know some of this is nit picking but that is the way of quilting, perfect quilters (if such a thing exists) will get these things right, but I know my limitations! And sometimes its the quirks that really make a quilt.

My Dad loves his ships quilt despite the chaos that would ensue in the shipping lanes at Dover if ships behaved as they do on my quilt! And it is extra warm on those cold winter nights!!

The circus quilt proved popular last year when I submitted it to a local quilt exhibition despite the elephants going along two by two and who notices the light blue issue when something has been lovingly made and is fundamentally unique!

After all its not like I’ll make the same mistakes again… well maybe not…

One in… One Out

I think I may have mentioned before that I have quite a lot of projects on the go. Well, where possible I try to stick to the one in one out rule, which means I roughly only ever have 4 quilts on the go at any one time! (of course we don’t count little side projects like the journal quilts or postcards!)

Well this week I finally finished the quilt I have been working on since Christmas (I can’t show you pictures yet as the recipient hasn’t received it yet!). Which means I have given myself permission to start a new quilt 🙂

Sometimes I buy fabric randomly with no clue as to what project they might form… well okay about 90% of the time this is how I buy fabric! Last year at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, my friend and I came across a French stall selling fabric with story scenes on them. Their website can be found at http://www.boutis.com, they have lots of different fabrics including Ladybirds, Princesses and Cats!

Paris

I fell in love with the 2CV car fabric, not least because whenever I see a real one I inevitably get all the letters and numbers mixed up, winding up my long suffering husband by calling them CV2’s or R2D2’s if I am in a cheeky mood.

I had no plan for them, I just neeeeeeded them

I bought four panels and when I got home I thought I really needed five to create an even design! So that was that! They sat in the basket for a while until the Spring show, where luckily they were there again so I bought two more panels (and this time they had different ones, with cows on, so totally worth the wait!)

Cows

Now I am able to construct the additional panels using the amazing triangle ruler I bought at a the Detling Showground Quilt show!

See it’s all coming together so well!

Layout

I am thinking wall hanging with blue borders around the pictures and edges!

This should take no time at all but this is me and no doubt I’ll be distracted again some how!!

My Hometown and Hometown my Local Fat Quarter Supplier!

All over the county independent shops are starting a revival; kitsch, quirky, interesting, unique and vibrant, Rochester High Street is almost entirely occupied by independent retailers. Twice a year an influx of visitors arrive from all over the world for the Dickens Festival, with the Christmas one being particularly manic!

Dickens Christmas Festival

My Hometown is also home to Hometown, the quilt shop the place where I first learnt the dark art of cutting fabric and piecing it all back together. And a name that appears all too frequently on my bank balance!! Full of bright and vibrant fabrics, the shop is a haven for local quilter and it is always busy with people stocking up on supplies, Hometown is one of my favourite places to go. It is the one shop where I am known by my name and I must admit that makes me feel part of the community.

Hometown

A frisson of excitement was greeted at the news that Hometown was on the move! After  5 years of occupying a wee space on Rochester High Street, Hometown would be moving! But breathe easy its only to a couple of doors up, to an even bigger space HURRAH!!! At the last course we all talked about what it would be like, how big the workshop space might be and obviously that there might be even more fabric!!

Last week was the grand opening, I popped down on the Saturday in desperate need of some wadding and some fabric that wasn’t quite so desperately needed 🙂 It was bright and early but the shop was already buzzing with lots of nosy quilters like me, eager to see the new digs! And we weren’t disappointed! The shop is huge with plenty of room for us to all move around without annoying each other and so light and bright!

Hometown Mark 2

Armed with my wadding and some new fabrics I really didn’t need, I chatted to fellow quilters who were equally enthralled with the new shop. Needless to say the new shop is a success and I can’t wait for the next course to see the new workshop space!!

Pesky Unfinished Craft Projects!

We all have those ‘Unfinished’ projects in all walks of life, but in crafts it is endemic! We always start off with the best intentions, make lavish purchases of fabric or other supplies and start all gung-ho!

This often happens when I decide to ‘branch out’ and make something ‘different’. For example the below bag, I had never made one before and I had lots of this really nice fabric with berries and strawberries which I thought would do nicely for the back and the inside. So I started with marked enthusiasm, getting to complete the inside and the outside sections in a couple of hours. I made one handle and then for some unknown reason got bored or scared and stopped!!

Unfinished project finally completed

Utter madness! I was so nearly there, anyway long story short, I found it this a couple of  weekends ago and the fabric I had cut for the second handle, so on my day off I set to finishing this ‘Unfinished Craft Project’ I had started 8 or so months ago!!

Though I have to point out that not all ‘Unfinished’ projects are so easy to complete!

Take that (stupid) cross stitch project I started which is on the smallest point you have ever seen, sewing 10 crosses takes an age and you cant even tell if you’ve actually put the thread through the right hole… so it wasn’t long till it was thrown on ‘that’ pile!

Patchwork Quilting, although easily my favourite craft, always seems to stop at the same point! The sandwiching and quilting bit! I love choosing fabrics, cutting them up and putting it all back together but I’m not a huge fan of the quilting bit (ironic I suppose!), which means I have about 4 quilts on the go! Well 5 if you count that one I started and then couldn’t be bothered to finish!! See it’s endemic!

A couple of weeks ago I went on a free motion quilting course and I think it might be my Salvation! When I was brave enough to actually do it on a quilt, it took no time at all to completely finish it! Now I have great plans for my other waiting quilts… shame about that sandwiching bit… Well there’s always something!!

Extreme Crafting – One day off, One Christmas mission!

Yesterday I had a Craft day, a few hectic weeks meant that I hadn’t done any crafting for ages so I felt the urge to create!!

So I set off on a mission, Christmas is coming and I wanted to make cards, baubles and bunting! Early on this year I made a giant fabric advent calendar that my Husband and I have filled with surprises for each other We are big kids at heart! (Today I got an Albus Dumbledore Lego keyring 🙂 )

I was inspired by bright vibrant colours this year. Hot Pink and Neon Green!! I first bought the Polar Bear fabric from Robert Kaufman this summer at a quilt exhibition and it got me started on a whole host of bright Christmas fabric. It took me ages to find the neon pink fabric to bind the calendar but I persevered!

Advent Blog

Thursday I left work and whilst watching Kirsty’s Vintage Home, I began what was to be an ‘Extreme Crafting’ session lasting a couple of days. I first set to work on the bunting. Creating the word CHRISTMAS using fusaweb to sit alongside some of the leftover fabric from the advent calendar. Halfway through creating the letters I remembered that you have to draw patterns backwards DOH!

Luckily Christmas has a lot of letters that look the same backwards i.e H and A…. Phew!! On Friday I woke early (well early for a day off) and set to work finishing the bunting adding glittery white buttons to weigh it down so it doesn’t blow about in the wind too much when we put it on the balcony.

Blog Bunting

This was then followed by Bauble making, I confess not all of these were made today!! Let’s not go over board but they are fun and really easy to make. My thumb however is a little purple and sore from sticking all the little pins in!! The fabric used in all of these are left over from quilts I have made this year. Including a circus and a sea themed quilt, that’s not very Christmassy I hear you say??? Well if your tree is anything like mine, it’s a mish mash of all things pretty and collected on our travels, so not sure anything looks out of place!! 🙂

Blog Baubles

Each one is individual and would look great on any tree!!

Then finally onto the Fabric Christmas cards again using the same psychedelic fabric! I love the reindeer fabric, here I put a small red glass bead to accentuate his shiny nose!! I hope they are well loved when they find themselves new homes.

Blog Postcards

After all that crafting I am exhausted and apparently I have worked some muscles I didn’t know I had.  Well that’s it for this Christmas I think, back to creating more quilts I think… On that subject, I might have already purchased more fabric… Well you know me!!!

The Quilted Bird goes to Iceland

So not quite a quilting related post… or is it?

To celebrate the arrival of a fairly big birthday, we upped sticks and flew to Iceland for the weekend in search of the elusive Northern Lights. Always been on our list of things to do and with the massive IcelandAir campaign that can be seen just about anywhere you look, we thought we’d take the opportunity to see if we could catch them!

Friday we took in the sights of Reykjavik, the World’s most Northerly capital. For that evening we were booked on to the Northern Lights tour, wandering around the city we over heard one of the locals talking to some English tourists telling them the weather has been bad and that the Lights haven’t been seen for a while and not only that, tonight there was to be a BIG storm! Eeeekk

Well he wasn’t wrong… huge gale force winds blew in, sweeping us and everyone else off their feet. Needless to say the tour was cancelled, much to our disappointment. But we made sure that we were booked in for the next night just in case.

Saturday – My Birthday 🙂 and Golden Circle day! We were booked on a tour to visit the Geysers, Gullfoss Waterfall and Pingvellir National Park. Iceland is stunning (if not a bit cold in gale force winds!) the craziest moment was when the waterfall spray turned to ice, hitting our faces and making all the tourists look incredibly red faced!!!

The Geysers produced the biggest wow moment, curiously amazing and always accompanied by ooohs and ahhs from those watching. They were certainly worth the trip. Finally we had a walk through Pingvellir national park which was stunning.

I’ll admit our eyes were on the sky quite often in the day, watching for clouds and hoping for good fortune! When we returned to the hotel that evening we were overjoyed when we saw the tour was on!!!! 17 coachloads of tourists went out that night, however we had plenty of warning from our guides that the Northern Lights were Nature’s most temperamental phenomena and we might not see them.

Eagerly I spent the journey looking out the window of the bus, when I saw something, a faint streak of green across the sky, I pointed it out to my husband who agreed it looked like it was the Lights!! Hearing us the couple behind us, very excitably yelled ‘We can see them!’. The whole bus was calling for the driver to pull over!!!

And so there they were dancing in the sky, not as vibrant as the pictures you see but still an amazing sight to behold. There was something spiritual about the way they move and dance across the sky. I should also say that the Milky Way was also visible in all its glory, I have never seen so many stars. It was an awesome way to spend my birthday and I realise I was very fortunate to see the Lights in all their glory!! Alas no photos, those Lights are hard to catch!!

Before we flew home on Sunday we stopped off at the Blue Lagoon, a surreal but great experience all the same! It was freezing outside, we all ran to the lagoon and then gingerly stepped into the warm water. It was so weird to be in a hot pool whilst the air around us was so cold, but you didn’t feel it (well not until you get out that is!!)

It was the perfect ending to one of the best holidays I have ever had, a weekend of many firsts and natural wonders.

I can’t leave it there though, I started by saying it wasn’t a quilting related post but actually I couldn’t go somewhere and not purchase some fabric!!!

Yep you guessed it, I found a fabric shop in Reykjavik and purchased some blue fabric, fitting I think for an Icelandic holiday… Now to start yet another quilt, something inspired by my holiday I think!!