27 June 2012

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

Hello there!
I hope your week is going well... I'm just posting quickly to-day because there are great celebrations afoot
To-day I'm celebrating (courtesy of my son's marshmallow/dairy milk/smore concoction) a one-year milestone... it was one year ago that I started out on my blog journey. I'm amazed, overwhelmed and so thrilled to have spent the last year with you all... especially those of you who have taken the time & effort to leave me comments, each one of which I have treasured (& I confess to have read over & over again!)
To help me celebrate, I would love to share some of my favourite things from the length & breadth of UK with you
First up is some gorgeous Liberty fabric.... I'll say no more :)
Next is some lovely fine tweed from Wales - perfect for a wee pouch if you're that way inclined
Here are some pretty buttons & beads made here in the Emerald Isle (some by me!!) - well, everyone needs to accessorize, don't they??
This Scottish hand-dyed wool & felt is so beautiful.... I can imagine lots of wonderful things to do with it!
Some delicious Orkney fudge from the Scottish Island to keep your sugar levels up while you're stitching (this is something I used to love as a wee girl... a long time ago!)
And last, but certainly not least, a charm pack of Lucies wonderful Summerville fabrics
I'd love to give this lot to you, if you are a follower... you certainly deserve it!
So to enter (only if you are a follower please) just leave me a wee comment.. anything you fancy will be grand! I'll close the giveaway on Tuesday 3rd July & announce the winner on Wednesday 4th.... good luck!
Thank you again to each one of you for your inspiration/encouragement/quirkiness & kindness.... I really appreciate it all!

25 June 2012

Pillow Talk with Svetlana

Hello there!
I hope you had a lovely weekend & managed to get a wee bit of stitching done. I'm back from wild, windswept & beautiful Orkney & have lots so show you later on this week (including a special celebration post tomorrow!). But for to-day I'm so thrilled to introduce you to Svetlana.... she is one of the first bloggers I officially "followed" last year when I started blogging & she makes the most amazing cushions....
 and loads more!! Over to you Svetlana...

Hello, I'm Svetlana from s.o.t.a.k handmade. I was so excited when Karen asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I decided to do "a sort of” pillow tutorial. I'd like to show you how a simple quilt block, or two, could be turned into a beautiful pillow cover.
This is the pillow I made using 2 cupcake blocks by Malka Dubrawsky. I found this mini quilt in Pretty in Patchwork Doll Quilts book and I totally fell in love with the whole design and pretty colors.
And while I adore this block, I just don't have patience or time to work on the whole quilt right now. So I decided to make just two of these yummy blocks and turn them into a pillow.
Once my blocks were done, I cut out sashing to join and frame the blocks. This part can be customized to any dimensions you need. It all depends on the size of the blocks and the pillow form you have. My blocks measured 11.5" x 12.5" each. 
I needed to bring the size of the whole pillow top to  15.5" x 29.5" - the size of the pillow form I wanted to use - so I decided to add one more, contrasting border. I love how this print fabric frames all my cupcakes so nicely.
I like to iron fusible fleece to the wrong side of the pillow top which means no basting and being ready for quilting in no time at all. It works wonderfully every time. 
I decided to hand quilt the pillow top, outlining all my cupcakes using 3 strand whitish embroidery thread. I really, really love the extra special touch that hand quilting adds to this pillow.
Once the pillow top was quilted, it was time to make a backing. I usually don't quilt my pillow backs (no rules here, just my preference). I used two coordinating Denyse Schmidt fabrics and joined them with the zipper.
I placed the pillow top and back on top of each other, wrong sides together, pinned them in place, and basted all the way around. Then all that was left to do was attach the binding - the same way as I would have for the quilt.
So, there you have it. A pretty pillow using just 2 quilt blocks. How fun is that?
I hope you give it a try and turn some fun quilt blocks into lovely pillow covers.

Happy blogiversary, Karen! You rock, my friend!

Thanks so much Svetlana! If you get a moment, do drop by her blog - her stuff is fantastic & amazingly she has only been stitching for about 18months!!!

Lots of fab things to post tomorrow, so hopefully I'll see you then. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your day wherever you are & whatever you do :)

21 June 2012

Sunshine (and showers) Tote

Hello there!
How has your week been so far? Have you had sunshine? Or showers? Or both?? I'm writing this post from a wee island off the North Coast of Scotland called Orkney (which is where my great grandparents came from) & as I write this the rain is pouring down & there are wee streams of rainwater trickling over the cobbled stones... But at least the plants in the gardens look happy!!

This week in between exam runs & the rain, I've been busy finishing off a surprise for someone in our do. Good Stitches bee

I designed the bag expecially for this person & I really enjoyed making it.. It has a lovely curvey bottom....
I used some of the printed text I made a couple of weeks ago & lots of my favourite fabrics which I quilted individually
The front has a large padded pocket with a snap closure (which might be good for the recipients camera!!)
There's another zipped pocket inside & a wee key fob too
I used fusible fleece to make it nice & squishy & am really hoping that the person who I've sent it to will like it...
Here's Hannah modelling it to give you an idea of the size
I was thinking of maybe making a pattern for this - I'd love to know what you think....
If all these photos have given you a taste for totes, check out Sara's Purse Palooza at Sew Sweetness. There are lots of fantastic purse reviews, tips & tricks & prizes too...Here's the list from to-day onwards

June 21 - Katy @ The Littlest Thistle (Noodlehead 2-4-1 Tote)
               Terri @ Sew-Fantastic (In Color Order Lined Drawstring Bag)
June 22 - Elizabeth @ Don't Call Me Betsy (Amy Butler Weekender Bag)
               Sarah @ Fairy Face Designs (bag from the Bag Making Bible)
June 25 - Amy @ Sukie Don't You Know Who I Am? (Amy Butler Sophia Bag)
                Laurie @ On the QT - Quilting Tangents (Betz White Hexie Hipster)
June 26 - Julianna @ Jednoiglec (Charlie's Aunt Kitchen Garden Bag)
               Jeni @ In Color Order (Bari J. State Street Tote)
June 27 - Kerry @ Very Kerry Berry (bag from Suzuko Koseki)
               Michelle @ I Like Orange Too (Left Bank Granny Bag)
June 28 - Kay Whitt @ Sew Serendipity Studio (tutorial: adjustable strap with metal slider)
               Amy Barickman @ Indygo Junction (tutorial: installing grommets/magnetic snaps)
June 29 - Melissa @ Bittersweet Designs (Bella Nonna Boutique Shoulder Bag)
                Kelly @ Kelby Sews (Pat Bravo Paris Bag)
                Bianca @ Sweet Diesel Designs (Lisa Lam For Pleat's Sake)

There are some great prizes for completed bags too, including....
1st Prize
* $50 gift certificate from Fat Quarter Shop         
* 3-pack of books from Martingale Publishing
* $50 gift certificate to Zipit
* $70 Pellon gift pack
* fat quarter bundle and sewing pattern from Art Gallery Fabrics
* fat quarter bundle and sewing pattern from Art Gallery Fabrics
* 3-pack of books from Martingale Publishing
* $50 gift certificate from Sew Fresh Fabrics
* $30 gift certificate to Spoonflower
* fat quarter bundle from Art Gallery Fabrics
* 2-pack of books from Lark Crafts Publishing
* $80 prize pack from Olfa Cutting Tools

I'm off now to explore Stromness... I'll take some photos to show you, but in the meantime click here to see Katy's review of the 241 Tote
Hope you have a lovely day

18 June 2012

Fathers Day (fatigue!)

Hello there!
I hope you had a great weekend... did you have a nice Father's Day yesterday?
I must admit I'm shattered!! Because my parents live close by, Fathers Day is a big thing in our house.... lots of food & chat (which I love) ... but the downside is I seem to have spent all weekend on it - either sewing, cooking or cleaning up!!! I'm embarrassed to say I didn't get the quilt finished for my husband - but  he got lots of lovely gifts from the children, so is happy to wait for his birthday in July to get it. 
I did however, manage to make something for my dad... 
A few months ago I gave him a camera with a case, but he keeps on loosing the charger leads & bits & pieces - so this wee bag will keep them all together for him. I love this Echino fabric!
He travels quite a bit, so I used fusible fleece to give the camera a bit of protection when he packs it in his suitcase. 
For this week I have set myself only one goal (seeing as I failed miserably on last weeks list!)
So I'd better get on with it!
Hope you have a great week & accomplish at least one stitchy thing :)

15 June 2012

Foiled on Friday by Trials with Technology

Hello there!
How has your week been? I've been super busy trying to get some long-needed projects finished... but unfortunately I've been foiled by the storms which means we've been without electricity since Thursday night. We're all sorted now, but before I get on with my quilting, here is my to-do list & progress so far:
  • Make a fathers day gift for my dad...something for his camera - got an idea for this
  • Make a fathers day gift for my husband....something for his surgery - QUILT TOP FINISHED, BACKING FINISHED
  • Post off some bee blocks DONE :)
  • Finish a secret gift for someone in our Care Circle bee - almost finished
  • Make a start at the Handstitched Class project - no progress yet :(
So unfortunately my great intentions haven't exactly come to too much!
The big project was a quilt for my husband for fathers day for his doctors surgery &, although I'm a wee bit behind schedule, hopefully I will get this finished in time....Thanks so much for all the brill suggestions about the blocks - I've squinted at it (thanks Dolores), looked at it through a black & white filter (thanks Kerry), scrutinised & pondered over it & finally, come up with this:
Now the colours are a lot lighter in real life than this picture & the squares are 12"X12" - so hopefully it will be a a nice wee throw & a good size for the treatment couch in the surgery... 
For my father I'll be making a pouch for his camera & leads & bits & pieces - but that will have to wait till tomorrow too!
So are you fixed for fathers day? Do you make gifts or buy them? What about cards?? If you're looking for some last minute fathers day gifts here are some great possibilities from pinterest....
Aren't these key chain fobs so cute!
Tutorial etc from My Crazy Life
Love this dog silhouette!
Tutorial etc from The Creativity Exchange 
This looks like a great printable book for dad
Download etc from eighteen25 
Lots of great printables for fathers day
Downloads from Hello Lucky
Hopefully this lot has given you some last-minute inspiration! I'll be back on Sunday hopefully to show you my completed gifts!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend! (& congrats to England who have just beaten Sweden for the first time in World Cup Football history!)

14 June 2012

Wednesday wonderings & a little progress

Hello there!
Just dropping in for a wee progress report on my "project a day" plans...
The day started well I got the front & back of a bag I am making in a secret swap for one of the ladies in our do. Good Stitches bee
I am really enjoying making this bag....its so bright & happy! I had thought of using the quilt-as-you  go method, but instead I used fusible fleece & quilted around each patch - laborious, but I like the finished look
While it was still sunny I also made some progress on my husbands fathers day gift. A few months ago Lynne (AKA Lily's Quilts) posted a Dead Simple Quiltalong & my husband asked me to make him a quilt for his surgery. His favourite colours are green & purple, so I duly bought some lovely Kona Solids in various shades of purple & green. Of course, like many of my bright ideas, I kind of lost interest before I even started & the fabrics were left abandoned in a corner of the cupboard  (sorry Lynne). But seeing as Fathers Day is fast approaching I thought I should look again at the fabrics... but this time no matter how I arranged them, I just didn't like them together... Does that ever happen to you - you are making something for someone & really want to be directed by their taste, not yours... but its so difficult... Well, unfortunately I just couldn't go with the green & purple combo & instead came up with this
My husband LOVES dogs... I mean seriously ADORES them (while I'm typing this, he's looking at photos of Old English Sheepdogs - I'll say no more!!) So hopefully he won't mind me substituting the purple fabrics for Annela's Sherbet Pips dogs.. I've made some more blocks but I was just wondering before I stitch them all together, what do you think of the colour/pattern combos? I was reading somewhere something about mixing high & low value prints & I have no idea what that means... but I am hoping someone out there might help me out (preferably by tomorrow!!!) So, please do tell me - how does this look to you? If you were a patient going to see your GP (family doctor) & you had to lie down on the treatment couch would you like this little lot over you??? 
I can't wait to hear what you think.... 
Take care

13 June 2012

Tuesday Timekeeping: doing Good Stitches

Hello there!
How is your week going? I wonder how many of you have managed to start or maybe even finish stuff that has been waiting patiently for your attention? Yesterday (in a post-muffin sugar rush I suspect) I decided to try to complete a project a day for the rest of this week &, despite trying to maintain sanity in a house full of teenagers doing exams, I've managed to stick to my plans & these two were posted off to-day...
These are for the Care do. Good Stitches bee which I love being part of. Kristin is our bee mama for this month & the quilt we are making will be donated to her local woman's shelter. We used a tutorial from bijou lovely (available here). I really enjoyed making these blocks, but there is a fair bit of wastage, but hopefully I can use the scraps for something else...

So back to business.... my to-do list now looks like this:
  • Make a fathers day gift for my dad...something for his camera - got an idea for this
  • Make a fathers day gift for my husband....something for his surgery - got an idea for this
  • Post off some bee blocks
  • Finish a secret gift for someone in our Care Circle bee - almost finished
  • Make a start at the Handstitched Class project - no progress yet :(

So how are you getting on? The lovely Christine is also on a get-it-done drive this week, so if you have a moment, drop by her blog & see what she's up too!
Thanks for all your lovely motivational comments, they really are such fun to receive! I'll be back tomorrow with another progress report, but in the meantime take care... look forward to seeing you then!


11 June 2012

Monday Motivational Muffins

Hello there!
I hope you had a lovely weekend.... here on the Causeway Coast things were busy, but I guess for most of us that is the way of it. In between various drop-offs & pick-ups, laundry, cooking, dog-walking etc. I managed to get a wee bit of (much-needed) gardening done..
I also made these scrummy banana & chocolate muffins. 
They are a big favourite in our house & a great way to start the week.....so here's the recipe if you fancy the look of them.....
1) Preheat oven to 200' C/ 400'F/ gas mark 6 & line a muffin tin with muffin cases
2) Mix the following dry ingredients in a large bowl:
  • 360g plain flour
  • 240g golden caster sugar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt

3) Mix the following wet ingredients in another bowl:
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 115mls vegetable oil
  • 3 large bananas mashed
4) Pour the wet mixture into the dry & fold together using as little folding as possible (don't worry if it seems lumpy, it will be grand!)
5) Fold in 100g dark chocolate & 100g white chocolate chips (or all dark or all white if you prefer - avoid milk chocolate as it is too sickly with the banana)
6) Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling about 3/4 full (so they won't splurge over the sides when cooking)
7) Bake for 20-25mins until golden. Remove from the tin & cool on a wire rack for as long as you can resist (approx 10 seconds in our house)
8) Serve warm with a knob of butter & a lovely cup of tea!

Now it may be just a sugar rush, but after eating one (or two) of these I'm ready to tackle some exceptionally late sewing projects which I need to do.... So for the rest of this week I'm going to try to complete one each day  & was wondering if you you have any stitchy stuff which you need to do? If so, would like to join me?  This is my list:
  • Make a fathers day gift for my dad...something for his camera
  • Make a fathers day gift for my husband....something for his surgery
  • Post off some bee blocks
  • Finish a secret gift for someone in our Care Circle bee
  • Make a start at the Handstitched Class project
My plan is that each day I will post the finished project so you can keep tabs on me! If you feel up to the challenge let me know & I'll check up on you too! If you still need some motivation here's something someone much wiser than me once said:
So go for it!
I'll see you tomorrow with a progress report (hopefully)... in the meantime I'm off to eat another muffin!
Hope you have a great day & accomplish much

6 June 2012

Fat Quarterly Community Retreat .... thank you

Hello there!
I hope you are having a great week! Here in the UK we have been enjoying some wonderful celebrations for the Queens Diamond Jubilee ..... but I feel as though I have been partying since Friday when I set off for the Fat Quarterly Retreat
At the very last minute I finished off my Summersville backpack which was stuffed with my wee sewing kit & swappy notebooks
The retreat was absolutely amazing & a really wonderful experience... I was so busy enjoying myself that I completely forgot to take pictures - but there are loads here from other less star-struck folk! I loved every moment of the retreat, but for me the highlight was meeting so many lovely, talented stitchers....some who I've "known" for a wee while (like Susan, LeanneKaty & Hadley) & others who I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with (like LeilaChristine & Linda). On the tickets the full title of the retreat was "Community Retreat: London" & that really captures the essence of the weekend - being part of a wonderful community of incredibly creative people. Here are some of the lovely swap gifts I was lucky enough to receive:
So thank you to everyone who came from near & far, to the organisers, sponsors, teachers, stitchy neighbours & my husband who paid for me to give him peace for the weekend go. I also owe a big thanks to my wee Liberty friend who gave me a temporary job as a Liberty rep. Their new Art Fabrics are absolutely gorgeous!
She also gave me some wonderful fabric to make her a backpack... so I'll be back in a few days to show it to you (along with some of the retreat class bits & pieces). In the meantime I hope you have a great week