Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Stitch Gathering 2014.....and a giveaway

Hiya, I think it is time for a little Stitch Gathering sum-up.......wonderful!  I don't really need to say much more (except, of course, I will!).  I had the most wonderful bunch of 12 ladies who all finished their CafĂ© Aprons - so many different looks from one simple little pattern, and a few clever customisations along the way.  What a way to make me happy! 
If you hang on to the end of the post there's a wee giveaway to share some of the fun from the day.

Our lunchtime entertainment consisted of viewing all the very talented ticket bag decorations, some were truly stunning.  Then we had the fun of finding our swap partners, I hope Sally likes hers. I was exceedingly lucky to be given Jo's.  Isn't it clever (it really gives you an idea of Jo's rather eclectic and bright taste and her range of skills spanning pretty much the whole crafting spectrum)?  Katie was determined that I should highlight her two favourite parts.  Can you tell?
Here's me (on the right) with Jo, admiring the bag she gave me
There was also a pretty mindblowing Show and Tell session - just so much talent.  I couldn't resist adding this photo which shows just how impressed (and shocked) Jo was at the skill, and time, that had gone into making this bundle of red and white blocks. 
I joined in the Patchwork Doggie class in the afternoon......helping out a little to get a few people started and then I was able to do some sewing of my own, which was a great way to unwind after my class.  We were all hand sewing so there was plenty of time for chatting - in amongst the occasional naughty word as something was sewn on the wrong way round (I'm referring to myself here!).  I still have a bit more to do to finish mine but it won't take too long and I plan to give it to Islay.

It was lovely to see so many faces from last year and meet some great new people too.  (And fab to catch up with Sarah who I met at the Fat Quarterly Retreat last summer).

We all received fabulous goody bags.  Many thanks to the following sponsors:
Aurifil (thread), Nairns (biscuits), Pilot (Frixion pen), Coats (Millward needles and Coats thread), Dashwood (fabric FQ), Love Patchwork and Quilting (magazine), DMC (embroidery thread), Very Berry Fabric (Liberty Tana Lawn scrap pack), Groves and Banks (embroidery scissors), Liberty (tote bag, which I forgot to photograph, sorry, and fabric), Blend Fabric (2 fabric panels), Robert Kaufman (5FQ bunble), myBearpaw (DMC perle cotton number 8 and packet of beads)
Having had such a great day I thought it would be good to share some of the happiness........so to win the goodies below just leave me a comment!  Open to everyone, wherever you are and whether it is your first visit or you're a regular here.......and I'll probably sneak in some edible goodies too.....anyone not like chocolate?!  Good luck!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Stitch Gathering - ticket swap bag


Not long now until The Stitch Gathering.  I'm really looking forward to it this year. I did last year, too, but with quite a lot of nervousness in advance of the class I was teaching.  This year, I'm feeling more sure of myself especially since I have taught a few classes throughout the year.  Having written this, and expressed my relative lack of fear out loud, I'm now pretty concerned that I'm tempting fate.  I do hope not!
 
Anyhow, I'm sure it will be a wonderful day. Jo is a bit of a genius for putting together good things (and we'll just have to hope that, for the sake of everyone in my class, I'm not struck by lightning or a similar smugness-induced calamity between now and then). Last year we each received a fabric ticket which we embellished and handed in.....for Jo to turn into a stunning quilt which will be raffled for charity at this year's event.
 
I did wonder how that idea could be beaten, but I needn't have worried.  This year we have all been sent a ticket bag to embellish for a swap partner.  I can't reveal who my partner is as that would spoil half the fun, but I can show my finished bag.
 
After a lot of um-ing and ah-ing the flower applique idea came to me as I was heading off to sleep one night (do you find yourself mulling over stitchy problems then too?).  I much prefer bags with a bit of body and strength to them so I added a lining and picked out some fun lobsters for a wee pocket and key tab too. I hope my partner likes red.  I think she does!
 
I've added a few wee notes below on how I put the bag together.  I really love applique and it was one of the first things I taught myself a few years ago.  I'm not sure I do it the 'proper' way but what I do works for me so I thought I'd jot down a few pointers for the very simple way I decorated the bag in case anyone wants to give it a go but hasn't tried before.  It is fun so do try!
 
Applique notes::
 1. Firstly sketch your design, in this case I just did it straight onto the bag so that I didn't have to copy out the circles which were going to form the basis of my flower - but I could have traced the circles onto a piece of paper and then sketched my design on that.
2. If your design has a right and wrong way round (e.g. numbers and letters) then you'll need to reverse it, I usually hold my paper up to a window and trace the design onto the back of the paper.  In this instance it didn't matter, it just meant that the petals (which I drew free-hand and deliberately weren't symmetrical) would be mirror images of their originals.....but would still be exactly right to fit round the outer circle.  The four inner quarter circles were symmetrical so they didn't change when transferred onto bondaweb.
3. Next, you'll need to trace your design onto the rough side of some bondaweb (check the instructions it comes with if you're not sure which side!) - I use a pencil for this step.  Roughly cut round the outside of each piece of the design, a seam allowance of 1/4" or so works well. 
4. Iron each piece of the bondaweb design onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric(s) (again refer to instructions for exact timings etc).
5. Carefully cut out each design following the traced line on the bondaweb - now you'll have lots of pretty fabric pieces, hopefully in the right shapes!
6.  Now have some fun tearing off the backing sheet from the bondaweb! Place each piece of fabric, right side up, where you want it to lie on your bag (or wherever your design is going).  You can see that my pieces don't match my original design as I didn't reverse it - I have created a mirror image of my original.
 7. Iron in place.
 8. For extra security sew the design down by sewing round the outer edges with a short zig zag stitch - I found it simplest to unpick one side of the bag so that I had more room to manoeuvre the bag while stitching round the flower design.
9. And that's it.  Do say if you spot anything that doesn't make sense and otherwise I hope you have fun!

Working on this design, and playing around with the applique, made me realise how much fun machine embroidery would be - have you ever tried?  Any tips?

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Summer snapshots - home


The last of my Summer Snapshots posts - home.  I'm not sure that any of us feel as if we're properly home yet.  We definitely love our house even with the squish and the squeeze (currently the boys are sharing a small single bedroom*), and I'm very confident that it will feel like home but at the moment it is all too new - the house, the schools, the activities, even the scenery and surroundings.  It will just take time.

The wild flowers were picked for my new vase, which was a gift from some of our summer visitors.  Do you know Anta?  They design and make wonderful homewares (all materials are sourced and made in this country).  I have coveted their stoneware for quite some time so I couldn't quite believe my luck when I unwrapped the vase. The Anta workshop is not far from here and I'm itching for an opportunity to visit.

John took Finn off for a big boy weekend part way through the holidays.  One day the rest of us collected beach stones, washed and then painted them.  It was a great wee project for us all........apparently the finished stones look very 'pretty' arranged along the wall of the house and Katie takes pride in showing her 'bunnies' to anyone who comes round.

Last but not least I had a little time to do some sewing.  The first for months.  I still have a fair bit to go on this quilt top but it was very satisfying just to sit down and lose myself in the fabric - the patterns, colours, textures - and the planning........ so much planning goes on while I sew!

Katie and I have picked brambles most mornings this week.  Or should I say that I have picked brambles while Katie has eaten them.  She has shared a fair few with the dog too, Susie loves fruit. I'm finding it a really relaxing way to begin the day........wave off the school bus, wander down a footpath to the shore picking as we go, throw some stones or run in the sand and then make our way back home - to remember all the jobs that need doing!  We've eaten brambles most nights through the week and have frozen a few bags too.  I do love free food! Have you had a chance to pick any berries so far this year? 

* There's only space for a small desk between the two beds (each has half of it) and the door doesn't open fully because the room isn't designed for two beds.  They are coping remarkably well especially given that Finn is very messy and disorganised and Angus is the opposite. Finn's hamster, Sporty, is on the floor between the two beds as well.......and that's it, no more space.  We have plans, though, to convert the garage which will give us a fourth bedroom and separate rooms for the boys.  We may also be able to add on a fifth bedroom if we're able to stretch our money and then the girls wouldn't have to share either.  I know that plenty children have to share rooms all through their childhood and if the girls have to carry on sharing that would be fine too, and isn't in any sense a judgement on families who do so - we fully understand the predicament, we have always had at least two of ours sharing!  If we can manage a fifth bedroom it would feel like such a luxury and really help with overnight visitors. 

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