Thursday, 24 October 2013

Absence, sickness and a worthy cause. Has anyone heard of Hyperemesis?

This is a short off-topic post to update people on why I've not been around for such a long time.  I haven't even managed to get into my sewing room to tidy, play with fabric or even switch the computer on for about 3 months.  Which is, incidentally, the length of time that I have been growing a baby for so far.  Which is fantastic, as we've been trying for 4 years to get past the 9 week stage. 

However, the reason I've not been around is that I've had ridiculous sickness.  Everyone's heard of morning sickness.  Not everybody though has heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG for short), which is much more serious and is the reason I have been flitting between a hospital bed and my mother's sofa.  Loosely translated, it just means 'extra sickness during pregnancy', but the latin makes it sound much closer to the severity that it actually is.  I was in hospital from week 5 to about week 8 or 9 (I actually can't remember, the weeks have all blurred into one by now) on a drip and unable to even drink sips of water, let alone eat anything.  I was home for a few days and back in a couple of times, by which point the drip sites were all used up and I was having trouble even allowing them to try and put one back in.

I have to say an amazing thank you to my mum, step-dad, mother- and father-in-laws for looking after me all this time, and even more importantly sometimes, walking the dog for me while I was unable to stand for more than a minute without being sick.

Today is my first day on my own.  I finally feel well enough not to rely on my mother to bring me food and drink, and look after the dog on my own (after my lovely husband has walked him of course). I have reached 15 weeks today.  I am one of the lucky ones, as many women that have HG do not get respite this early on.  Having researched it, I was fully prepared for it to carry on past 20 weeks and possibly even for the entire 9 months.  I don't know how I would cope with that, but many women do. 

It's a bit of a hidden illness because the poor women that have it cannot even get out and about to be seen to be ill - they just have to hide away in bed or on the sofa.  Many lose touch with their friends, and I can understand why.  It's almost impossible to keep in touch when you are constantly afraid that the said friend will turn up with perfume on, or smelling of coffee, or will be excessively sympathetic just when you are at an emotional low and can't cope.  Also, just looking at a phone or computer screen can make the sickness worse or bring on a vomiting session, so even responding to text messages can be almost impossible.

If this sounds like hell to you, believe me, it is.  So when I came across a charity that is all about supporting women with HG, I got all excited and have been using their support network to help keep me sane, reading blogs, getting advice etc.  It is a charity called Pregnancy Sickness Support, based here in the UK.  If anyone would like to help them raise money to spread awareness in both the public and medical professions, please follow this link and pledge some money, or even just offer support if you have been through it yourself.

Thank you all, and rant over. xxxxxx

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mystery Solved!!

Behold!  My Mystery Quilt by Julie Coney is finished.  It's only taken me 2 years... (quirkyjules@gmail.comif you're interested in buying the pattern for your group)

Everyone else in the quilting group managed to finish theirs in order to show it in the summer show last year, but I got to the sandwiching stage and there it stuck.  I have now finished quilting it with lovely swirly vines, and after rejecting a couple of fabrics for the bindind, finally decided on a good old plain Kona cotton from Robert Kaufmann.  It looks fabulous, I don't know why it took me so blooming long to do it!  It'll now be my own personal tv snuggly quilt, rather than the one on the sofa to save it from the dog (which has huge holes in it, bit enough for the dog to walk through after he ripped it up playing with a stone).

I should really put a full sized picture up, but so far I've only managed to take one of it drying after its first wash...

But here are some photos I took during the quilting process as well...

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Housewarming edit...

I caved. I didn't like the quilting I did on the housewarming quilt, so I decided to enhance it. Instead of ripping things up and starting again, I thought I would add to it instead. I really like some of the stuff I did with a double needle and how it looked like it swirled (even though it had a hard time doing corners), so I though I'd try and make it look a little like that. I basically went over the same pattern I did before, but intentionally not going over it carefully, and in fact making it wander and go bigger and smaller and generally put more movement into it...

 It also means that I did this after the binding was put on, and I really liked the effect I got when I sewed over the binding as well in order to connect things without having to break the thread and sew any more ends in...

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Housewarming

My latest project is done.  I've been making a housewarming present for one of my sisters, and fantastically, when I asked her what colours she would like, so it goes nicely in a particular room, she said that her sofa was blue and her kitchen was green, so I could pick which one I wanted and work accordingly.

So I looked through my stash and came across the collection of charm squares that I won from Quilty Magee, which is both blue and green and beautiful in equal measures. It's also pretty close to the colours of fabric I seem to stash for no reason, so with a bit of searching,  found some perfect additions to make it (I thought) into a reasonable sized present.

I did a disappearing 9 patch with them, and got as far as making something that was nowhere near as big as I'd expected.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take measurements as I was doing it, so after going through my stash to find more fabrics to add to the ones I'd already added, I did the same sort of size again, but with an estimate as to the size of squares, because I'm useless and can't remember the last thing I measured, ony a few minutes ago.  Doh!

So I ended up with one section, plus 5 more strips of an almost equivalent width.  So how on earth to make them fit?  After a bit of head scratching I decided to undo the first bit I did to half the size, then place the strips in between and at both ends to make a long strip, then fold it in half and sew down the middle.  This made it a quite acceptable 1.3m long and about 60 cm wide. This means that it can be used as a sofa throw or a table runner/table cloth depending on what they want to do at the time.  And with it being a disappearing 9 patch that I made up by adding stuff on the side, none of the blocks are the same, so having unpicked, folded and cut it is not really noticeable because nothing matches anyway!

The quilting on top isn't great, but it was quick.  I don't know why, but this project was getting on my nerves, even though I was enjoying piecing it, and I love the colours.  I'm also giving it to her on Sunday, so I didn't want to agonise over things, only to not be finished in time (which I'm sure she's expecting anyway...).  The binding was actually bought for the mystery quilt, but the colours didn't go quite as well on that as I thought, but were perfect for this one.

I'm going out now to cuddle a sick ferret.  Wesley has been losing weight and appetite recently and we don't know why :-(

Friday, 24 May 2013

I'm having a bit of a crisis at the moment.  I had a crappy week at work, being told things are going to change in a way that I really don't want it to, so I decided to try and improve my lot by making stuff.  I have a chance to sell some bags at a pop up shop in my local town in July, and also a friend on a forum has offered to sell a few in her teashop.  The trouble is, I don't have anything to sell.  So I decided to make some, and not wanting to be a copywrite sneak, I bought a brilliant pattern from Sara at Sew Sweetness, a great blogger I've been following recently on twitter.  

It's the first time I've ever bought a pattern and followed through with making it - I have a couple of other patterns but so far not made those ones yet!

I got a bit frustrated though, because Sara is American, and mentioned a few different types of wadding  materials that I hadn't heard of.  I decided to use what I had, which was a heavy cotton bed covering that I had left over from a baby floor quilt.  It probably wasn't the best idea.  I ended up cutting it smaller than the pieces that were in the pattern, so that when the fabrics were sewn together the wadding didn't make it ridiculously thick.  That meant I had to quilt it onto the fabric so it stayed put, which I did with black thread on black fabric.  I can't help thinking I should have done that in a lilac or something that would have stood out.  
I also had a bit of trouble with the curve sewing, but that's my problem, not the pattern's - I hate curves!!!!!

Anyway, here is the finished item.  It took me a grand total of 12 hours to make, what with all the faffing around deciding on fabric, then unpicking etc.  

I like the pattern though, and I'm going to try and make a few more during half term - see how much quicker I get with practice, and also to try out a different type of wadding that I've thought of.  I'll let you know how it goes!

And just for fun, here's a picture of my lovely dog Zac, haring through the bluebells in the local wood with a small piece of wood.  I say small - he prefers them bigger than that....

Friday, 3 May 2013

Kaffe handbag and a vintage bequest...

I have done it!  The handbag that I wanted to make with the Kaffe Fasssett fabric that I fell in love with is finished!  
I had great fun quilting around the pattern, using 3 different styles for the 3 different circular designs.

 (my phone does ridiculous things with colour, but it's closer to the central image than the outside ones)

I found a lovely looking pattern for free after a quick search, which you can find here... 

I used the Kaffe fabric for one  part of the bag and used some contrasting/matching (not really sure which it is...?) to make the second part.  And here is the final bag...!!!

 I decided to do a different quilting pattern on each side to give it a bit of interest, along with the different colours.

I LOVE the mottled green binding that I found, which just makes the whole bag pop (the photo doesn't do it justice I'm afraid.).

I didn't follow the pattern to the letter, as I wanted a thicker and longer handle, but I think it worked very well - I'm now using it as my every day normal handbag and it works brilliantly.

The other bit of news is that my mother went to my Gran's house to clear some items out after she died a few years ago.  The house has been used by my cousins for university lodgings for a while and now it's empty again she wanted to see what was there.  And she came back with the most amazing thing.  
A bag full of scraps!  
But not just any old scraps, it's scraps of silk tie samples from my great grandfather's job where he designed ties for (amongst other people) the royal family.  I haven't had much of a chance to look at them yet, but they are in the most amazing condition considering that they are a minimum of 60 years old.  There are scraps of paper in amongst them, one with a date in the 1880s, and another piece of paper that is falling apart, at closer look is actually a photo of a man in very important military style garb.  

It's not a great photo, but just look at all the different types of patterns and colours of all of these!!!!!

I would estimate there are thousands of samples  and I have yet to quite work out what I'm going to do with them - definitely make a quilt, but size, pattern etc...  I'll take my time over those - it'll be a family heirloom quilt like no other!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Kaffe Fassett!!!

Since the trip to the quilt show at Detling, I have discovered a love for Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  I knew I liked them, but there were a couple of quilts made enteirely out of his fabrics, and I just fell in love! 
I had to buy some, although it's not the cheapest around, so I ended up only buying a small slice of it.  It's from his Millefiori collection. And I felt I had to do something with it, rather than let it languish in my collection of amazing fabrics - it's too good for that. So I decided to make it into something I will treasure and not hide it away.  A new handbag!
So, for the last few days I've been busying away with the quilting part.  It required fairly special quilting...

It's not quite finished, but I had to post it.
That is the main part of the bag, and this is the second part - not so obvious, but will also be seen, so I thought I'd do something funky with it too....

To see an (almost) comprehensive list of fabric designs by Kaffe Fassett, look here...

Thursday, 18 April 2013

I'm back after a long absence.  But I haven't been idle, just not really wanting to sit at the computer all night sorting photos like I used to 5 years ago. 
I've had 2 weeks off for the Easter holidays and told myself that I was going to finish a quilt and make myself a handbag.  Well that didn't quite happen.

I managed to get much further along with my mystery quilt that Julie designed.  I did actually manage to sit down for almost an entire day to do this, and it's now well over 2/3 quilted.  I can't wait to get it finished, as now that spring is coming, I might actually be able to use it in the season that I designed the colours for in the first place!  I haven't quite worked out how I'll use it, because it has so much white in it that it'll get ridiculously dirty as soon as I take it outside (and the dog starts trying to get underneath it with his silly little nose pushing technique).

 This is a photo I took in a hurry just before I went out with Julie and her mum to the quilting show being held at Detling showground last weekend.  The show made me feel ridiculously inadequate but also inspired me to try out a few more different fabrics...  There was one quilt there that was made using a range of fabrics designed by Tula Pink, a US designer that I have recently started following on twitter and blogs, and I just love the designs, and the fact that they make such a simple quilt design look so striking!

But I did at least manage to finish one quilt.  It was for a friend who has recently had a baby and said she didn't have a floor mat yet for her little girl.  Her theme for buying clothes etc was 'Olive + Henri', a range by Babies R Us, so I took inspiration from that and used up as many scraps and fabrics as I could to make a tactile quilt for her.  It has satin, velvet, scrunchy silk, cotton, soft interfacing and a small section with frogs!

 I have also been spinning, and here is just a taste of the wools I have at the moment.  They are generally thicker slub yarns, but I have a fairly finely spun ball of purple there in the middle of it all.  I have a couple of hanks of most of the thicker ones and a couple of other colours at the moment, with lots more wool waiting in the wings!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Block of the month, number 1

This week, I have done nothing.  Apart from swelter...  

I spent the week vising my sister-in-law in Mozambique, during the hot, wet season (summer's not really the right word for it, winter doesn't really get very much colder, just drier).  So in anticipation of my bi-weekly quilting meet at the Aldington Corner Quilters, I have finally got round to doing the first block in our BOTM series.  It's an interesting one, definitely.  They are being designed by my very good friend Julie Coney, and everyone else managed to do it for the last meeting, but I never got round to asking her for the pattern - there weren't quite enough printouts, so she promised to email it.  Guess who never remembered to send it or ask for it??  So I asked tonight and finally sat down to do some sewing after a good hour trying to sort my room out after getting it into a blooming good mess these last 2 weeks.

So I cut out all my pieces.  Very carefully, because I'd been told there are some corners to keep sharp.  I'm not usually that good at sharp corners, but something about the way Julie says it makes me very careful.  Or is it that she would kill me if it turned out badly? hehe.
But it didn't!  Here it is!  Hopefully I have enough fabric of the right colours and matching ones to make a nice quilt....
 And now to do something with my random pack of squares that I won from Quilty Magee...  I've found some great solids and a couple of other patterns to add to it to make something.  No idea what still, but at least I'm getting there with thinking about it now...  Watch this space!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Babies babies babies...

This month has been all about babies.  Unfortunately not mine.  Still trying for ours, but at least I get to cuddle other peoples' a lot at the moment.

I am making 2 baby quilts at the moment.  The first is practically finished - I just need to tie a few threads in and it's done.  It's a panel piece I bought from Kathy's Patch in Folkestone (I think it was their last one, I'd been deliberating for a little while about whether I had a reason to buy it).

It's a surprise quilt for a friend who had her baby a few weeks ago.  I won't say who, in case she reads this blog!!  I had great fun quilting around the animals - such a quick project!!!  I started it a few weeks ago and got most of it done in a day.  Of course, then it became a UFO sitting there waiting to be bound.  But that's just how I roll!

The second one is a design project (my first, actually) for my boss.  She's due next week and doesn't know if she's having a boy or girl, so she said that they have been buying things from the Babies R Us range of Olive and Henri... 

So, I decided to try and match the fabric colours and design my own, as it's cheating (and probably more expensive) to buy the real thing.
This is the sketch I came up with.... (can you tell that drawing really isn't my skill?)

I cut it out of paper first, then tried curvy piecing for the first time.  It worked pretty well I thought!
I decided the cream background needed to have different textures on it, so I found some satin and some velvet to go either side of the cotton.  I also found some water-like fabric which was perfect for the pond and a fat quarter of frogs, again from Kathy's Patch.  Some Spraytime green fabric, spotty green and a random bit of darker green from my stash and we have a background!  The green velvet I put on the sketch will probably be used in one of the tree bubbles I think.

 I have also been doing little projects, like this one here.  A sketch book case for my lovely husband, also out of scraps.

We had some great friends come round the other week too, partly to visit and partly so that our friend Chris Targett could continue to paint onto our kitchen wall.  We gave him a brief that went something like 'make it pretty', and this is what he came up with...  It's been work in progress for at least a year, but each time he comes round he adds some colour or definition somewhere.  It's all personal to us, designed around our tastes and our friends (that's who are on the picnic blanket...) and I have to say I couldn't have come up with anything more perfect if I tried!!

And finally, this is the dog that can sleep anywhere, as long as a quilt or duvet are involved.....

Free Motion Quilting ProjectLinked up with the UFO Sunday blog with Leah Day...