Crumbs, my last post was a long time ago.  I blame a couple of big projects and a busy summer (not all work though there was rather a lot of play too). I started the two big projects during a glorious week at home in the Spring but didn’t finish them until last month and didn’t get around to photographing them until last weekend.  Where does the time fly to?  The two projects were very different, one was a quilt and the other was a Lady Grey coat.  The idea was that the simple stitching of the quilt would balance out the technical difficulty of the coat and I am glad that I could bounce between the two projects.  It did slow down the construction of the quilt though and I feel a wee bit bad about that as it was a present (ah well, I think they forgive me).

Two of my favourite people were wed earlier this year and I was honoured to be a bridesmaid.  The wedding weekend was a fusion of Hindu and Scottish colour and energy, and it was lots of fun.  With that in mind I designed a colourful quilt for them (because all newly-weds should have something to snuggle under).  The patterned fabric is from two collections designed by Anna Maria Horner, mixed with a variety of plains.  I think I spent about two days moving around the squares before I was happy with the balance but that was fun and challenging, and the patchwork was quick and simple.  The backing was soft and cosy quilter’s flannel that I machine dyed with Dylon.  The quilting was also simple, just 1/4″ off-set squares.

R helped me take the pictures but the wind made the process rather tricky (and silly).  I thoroughly enjoyed making this quilt and I love the way the colour combinations have turned out.  I have to admit that I didn’t want to give away the quilt but N&D are special so I was good (and anyway, I have my next quilt all planned out and that one’s for R and me).

I’m not sure if it was my dedication to work or sewing that kept me in the lab for 13 hours yesterday.  I became obsessed with processing some data and really wanted to get the numbers crunched before I went home so that I didn’t have it nagging at me today, on my very precious day off.  I plan to spend today surrounded by fabric, in one way or other.

Hobbies are important.  I didn’t understand that when I was working towards my PhD but I now know I would have been a lot healthier and happier if I had, and the title of this little place reminds me of that every day.  My mum and sister and I are becoming very good at encouraging each other’s hobbies; it helps that many of our hobbies are crafty in one way or another.  So, when I asked my mum what she’d like from me for Christmas* she suggested a roll for her new paint brushes.

I loved choosing the fabrics for this project (ok, putting fabric combinations together is probably my favourite part of sewing).  I wanted the roll to have both a paintbox and painted feel to it so I chose to use some  Moda Peas and Carrots ovals and mixed that with some hand dyed Bonsai from Ink & Spindle.

I couldn’t resist adding some paint splodges using appliqué.

*Yes, I’m sorry, it is rather pathetic to be posting about Christmas presents at the end of February but I did mention at the start that days off (including weekends) are very precious and far between at the mo.  Also, I didn’t have time to take any pictures before the brush roll was wrapped up in snowflakes so I had to wait for a dash up north to get some.

Last November I ran away from the Big Smoke into the Scottish fresh air for a weekend with my Dad, step-mum and their dog, Domino.

Scotland Nov09

It was very wet (my walking boots very nearly let my feet get soggy) but there were patches of blue sky, and with good company, good food and good wine I was very happy.

The tricky light and fast flowing water gave a perfect opportunity for me to absorb as much of my Dad’s photography knowledge as I could.  He’s encouraging me to use more of the functions of my beautiful SLR and stop lazily using it as a point and click.

Wet Scotland Nov09

The cottage we stayed in had black sofas that were perfect for keeping Domino’s secret when she naughtily jump up on them.  At home, Domino isn’t allowed on the sofa because black dog hair and a cream couch just don’t make tidy playfellows.   However, it quickly became obvious that my Dad and Domino both enjoyed cuddling on the sofa (rather than the hard floor).  In a fit of familial love and Christmas cheer I offered to make a quilt that they could put on the sofa at home to protect it from doggy cuddles.

I decided to adapt the Little Bits quilt from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts to two blocks of little bits and large diagonal quilting.  I couldn’t face sewing with black fabric but I guessed that a deep chocolate brown would hide the dog hairs just as well and be more attractive.  I like the way the blue little bits dance out of the chocolate and are interesting without being too fussy.

It was tight finishing the quilt for Christmas and I finished the last of the hand-sewn bias binding on Boxing day.  In the rush I knew I wouldn’t be able to sign the quilt using embroidery so I pulled out my printer fabric and digitally signed the quilt in brown and blue.

As part of my experimenting with wadding I used a recycled plastic bottle polyester wadding for this quilt.  It was much easier to work with than then the bamboo wadding I used for my nephew’s robot quilt.

I saw the quilt in use this weekend and it was lovely seeing Domino and Alison curled up on it together.

Recently a very good friend of mine completed her PhD.  Congratulations again Susie.  Unfortunately I was away at a conference when she had her viva and subsequent celebrations; I felt awful but nothing could be done about it.  To make amends I made her a needle roll for her circular knitting needles and had it included in the present giving from the lab (much to the confusion of everyone apparently).

Susie's needle roll

I don’t knit and so I didn’t know what the dimensions of the needle roll should be or what additions would be useful. I tried hunting for a tutorial but came up blank so I asked my sister for her advice.  Kt suggested that I include a small pair of scissors, a couple of large safety pins to hold stitch markers and a patch of felt for a few pins and sewing needles.

Susie's needles rolled up

I placed some batting between the front and back pieces (figuring it would be awful if the needles poked through) and had a go at quilting with straight lines, vertically and horizontally about an inch apart.  As expected the quilting was a wee bit tricky to get straight but it was good practise.  Susie has assured me that it is already full of needles so I hope she is finding it useful.

I started learning to sew partly to make clothes for myself and partly because I loved the idea of making patchwork quilts.  For some reason, that has never been clear in my muddled head, I always feared that quilt making was harder than dress making.  So even though I have been to the Festival of Quilts three years running, making a quilt has been something that I have been building up to slowly.

Wynn's quilta

Over a year ago, whilst my sister was still pregnant, I offered to make the baby a quilt for his first birthday.  Almost exactly a year ago, after much fretting, I took the bull by the horns and bought a kit for a very cute robot quilt by the Eternal Maker.  Then over the last year I have gathered momentum (and skills) towards making the quilt.  In the meantime however I couldn’t help buying cute robot and space fabrics that I stumbled upon.

I have now realised that it is my love of fabrics that dictates what I sew and not that my sewing projects lead me to buy fabrics.  My ever increasing fabric stash should have given me a hint about this, but ho-hum, never mind.  As the date of my nephew’s birthday got closer I took out the quilt kit and the fabrics that I had added to it and realised that the original design couldn’t cope with my additions.

Wynn's quiltb

Happily my projects over the last year have increased my confidence about design and use of colour combinations, and the quilt kit gave me a great springboard.  It took me a couple of evenings to work through the maths of the design, scribbling my plans in coloured pencils.  Once the blocks were finished it took another few evenings rearranging the blocks on the living room floor (thank goodness I didn’t attempt his in my old, tiny flat).  At first I worried that the green and the red in the blocks clashed too much with the blues. But I decided that as the red and green were echoed in the central squares of the blocks, the clashes made the quilt more interesting.

I used a 100% bamboo wadding (which shed something awful and so was a bit of a pain to work with) and I used star shapes to quilt.  I worry that I didn’t quilt it enough but only time will tell.  Unfortunately I don’t have a good picture showing the whole quilt but this will have to do for now.

Wynn's quiltc

To sign the quilt I decided to play with waste canvas and cross-stitch (which was fun but did send me a little cross-eyed for an evening or two).

Waste canvas and cross-stitch

And for the signature I wrote

Wynn's quilt signature

Can’t get much more special than that I think.  Before I’d added my nephew’s name I think R thought he had a chance in persuading me to let him keep the quilt.  He is now, therefore, pestering me to make a quilt for our sofa.

All in all this quilt was a joy to make and I have a least two more designs bubbling away in my head.

I have to admit that I have yarn envy.  I drool over yarn and yearn to use it, somehow. But I can’t knit.  I’ve tried and I don’t get any enjoyment out it.  Then way back at the I Knit London Stitch n Bitch in 2007, I planned a needlepoint cushion project.  I bought a skein from Oxford Kitchen Yarns, found a fairly traditional pattern and set to work, albeit slowly.

I have to be in the right frame of mind for needlepoint.  I find it somewhat brainless (once the pattern has been designed) but it’s perfect for keeping my hands busy whilst watching tv (especially cycling).  I completed this panel whilst watching the cycling coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

Anyway, then it took me a wee while to find the right fabric to make the cushion.  In the end I chose some purple moleskin, hoping that it would be both durable and soft. The moleskin turned out to be lovely to work with and so very soft. The cushion is great to snuggle into.

Crumbs, but it’s been a long time since I last posted.  What can I say? I’m a scientist who studies influenza viruses and so these last few pandemic-twitchy months have been very, very busy.  Oh, and in my spare time I moved house.

I did manage to take three days off work last weekend though and I had a very crafty few days.  On the Friday I went to the Festival of Quilts, drooled over the fabulous quilts exhibited and spent far too much money feeding my stash (although everything I bought was very necessary, honest).  The on Saturday I went to the Bust sponsored Craftacular which was very busy but I picked up some great ideas and a few hand printed fat quarters. *cough, cough*  I’ll post some photos of my stash as soon as I can.

Then I Sunday I got down to business and set up my sewing machine in my new sewing room (it’s a one-bed flat but I was determined to get a box-room for sewing in).  The first thing I made was a bright, square bath mat to cheer me up in the morning.  Our new bathroom is tiny so I needed a small bath mat that we can squeeze the door over.

Most of the fabrics are either designed by Lizzy House (Red Letter Day collection) or Anna Maria Horner (Good Folks collection).  Usually I tend to stick with fabrics from just one collection in a project (it’s safest that way) but I just though that these fabrics work so well together.  I love how it has turned out and it really does make me smile in the morning.

The rest of my  long weekend was spent designing and starting a robot quilt for my nephew and making a half-needlepoint, half fabric cushion cover.  Pictures of both will be posted as soon as I take them.

Once we get an internet connection set up in the flat I will try to post more frequently.

This year was my sister’s first Mother’s Day (as a mum).  As part of the celebrations I made her an Emmeline apron using fabric from Lizzy Houses‘s Lizzy Dish collection.  I love Lizzy’s fabrics, they are so bright and vibrant.

When I first saw the Lizzy Dish collection I knew Kt would love it and that it would make a great Emmeline apron.  I’m really pleased with the way the apron turned out, it’s kitsch but easily wearable.

When I asked Kt if she wanted an apron she asked me to add a pocket to both sides.  I obliged happily.  I added darts into the pockets so that they have a similar shape as the skirt and it gives the pockets a gentle curve.

I love making this apron.  The pattern is so easy to do and the shape of the apron is so very flattering.

Today R and I met up with some ex-labmates and we all played tourist in London.  This gave me a great excuse to wear my new summer skirt.  The skirt pattern is Study Hall skirt by Anna Maria Horner and the fabric is part of the Red Letter Day collection by Lizzy House.

I love the Red Letter Day fabrics and I’m very happy with the way my new skirt turned out.  The pattern is a bit of a faff, with lots of pattern pieces, but construction was easy and the instructions were clear.

I’ve been living in London for nearly six years and have seen many of the sights but today was my most touristy day.  We sat in the sunshine, on the huge steps at the bottom of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.  Directly in front of us was the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben’s tower but the road to it was closed off.  It was closed because as we watched, up drove a horse and carriage carrying the Queen and Philip returning from the Trooping of the Colour.  We giggled.  We hadn’t realised today was the big parade day.

On a whim we walked down The Mall and ended up in front of Buckingham Palace.  There was quite a crowd and it turned out that the whole royal family were due on the balcony for a flyover by a variety of RAF planes.


Needless to say R was in his element, naming the different uniforms that surrounded us and being wowed as the planes flew over head.  I giggled.


A very fun day was had.

It was my mum’s birthday yesterday.  Happy birthday mum.  For her present she asked me to make her an Emmeline apron with a pocket added to each side.  I had oodles of fun choosing which fabrics to use and settled on three prints from Michelle Engel Bencsko‘s Dogwood collection.

I think this Dogwood collection is beautiful and now that it is so very difficult to get hold of I wish I’d bought a bit more.  By odd chance I picked up the fabric from the post office on my way to hiring a car for a trip back home, so this fabric came all the way to my mum’s house and back only to be cut up, sewn together and posted back up north.

I added the requested pockets, which you can’t really see in these photos unfortunately, but the pockets have darts on the top edge to match the darts in the apron.

I love this apron pattern.  It’s easy to construct and very flattering to wear.  I was a little concerned that the accent fabric used for the waist straps etc. was a little too strong but in the end I think the three fabrics work well together.

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