Thursday, 29 September 2016

Now I am 5 ~ Aurifil thread box Giveaway!

**Giveaway now closed**

Last month my blog turned five! I can't believe how quickly that time has gone but I also feel like I have come such a long way. I genuinely love being part of this community, I have learnt so much, made true friends and feel lucky to have found my tribe. Sewing can be an isolating pastime and connecting through my blog / social media has really given me so much inspiration, encouragement and support.

As a thank you to all my lovely followers, I have a big box of delicious thread from Aurifil to giveaway!

The box contains 12 beautiful spools of 40wt Aurifil thread. This thread is perfect for machine quilting, embroidery or appliqué and can also be used for hand piecing. 

The 'Big City' kit was designed in collaboration with the talented Sara Lawson. You get a range of pretty and bright colours: 
2425 (pink), 2530 (bright pink), 2225 (peachy orange), 2115 (yellow), 1231 (green), 4093 (deep turquoise), 5005 (blue), 1320 (true blue), 2510 (lilac), 1243 (purple), 2021 (white), 2625 (gray).

I'm excited about my upcoming projects and have a renewed passion for creativity that I can't wait to explore. Thank you all for following my blog and it is a joy to have you with me on my journey 💟

**Giveaway now closed**

To win the Aurifil thread box you have two possible chances:

1. Leave a comment, since it is Harvest Festival here in the UK tell me something you are thankful for today!

2. Share the giveaway on social media and let me know how you shared in a separate comment! (optional entry).

⟡ Open internationally, a winner will be chosen on Tuesday 4th October 2016. 
⟡ Please make sure you leave your email in the comments so I have a way to contact you if you win! No reply blogger, no chance.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

the perfect retreat 💙 Patchwork in the Peaks 10

Despite my serious concentrating face I can assure you that my time at Patchwork in the Peaks 10 was full of laughter, creativity and great company! 

Elita of Busy Needle Quilting hosts incredible Alpine quilt retreats in Morzine, France. Surrounded by the most beautiful scenery at the fabulous Chalet Les 4 Vents excellently run by The Mountain Lodge Company, it was so relaxing and yet totally invigorating at the same time. The four day retreats take place semi-annually and I attended 22-25 September 2016.

You never know what to expect when you haven't been somewhere before and I was nervously excited to meet everyone and see what happens at retreat. Well wouldn't you know... we quilt! And because we all love it so much there was a lot to talk about, a lot to learn from each other and lots of projects to work on.

I took my rose star quilt and knew it would be slow going because that's the nature of hand quilting. So while I made good progress the other ladies were machine whizzes and managed to produce so much incredible quilty goodness!! The group included a couple of 'beginners' and they quickly picked up lots of techniques. People came with projects they wanted to finish, some things were made entirely on the spot and they were all amazing. So many different techniques, styles and fabulous fabric creations!

In between all this making we had the most delicious meals. Really delicious. I am vegetarian and have nightmares about bad 80's nut roasts but this was gourmet food and honestly some of the best meals I've ever had. The sticky toffee pudding was also a clear winner! I failed to take pictures of the food because I was busy eating.

The group also brought snacks, so there was delicious choccies and tasty treats when I needed a wee boost from all the relaxing ;) Which reminds me I actually had a nap one day!! Unheard of for me but perfectly acceptable on retreat and a nice luxury. 

On Saturday I taught a class 'Fussy Cutting Snapshots', making Polaroid blocks and having fun with fussy cuts. The ladies produced fabulous blocks - some using their own photographs we had printed on fabric the day before, thanks to Elita's great tutorial!

The ladies were all so inspiring and it was a complete joy to be part of #peaks10. There were so many hilarious moments and I have lots more I want to share. Later this week I will be showing you what I made for my 'secret sister' and also what I received, along with a few other stash additions!

I can't recommend Patchwork in the Peaks enough, it really was an amazing few days with the most welcoming and lovely women. I consider them all friends and hope I will be able to attend again because I definitely want to repeat the whole experience! If you are interested in attending the next retreat you can get more information and contact Elita at Busy Needle Quilting 💙

Make sure you pop back tomorrow for a belated giveaway!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

blessed glasses case

I was looking at my glasses case and thinking how much I didn't love the pattern on it when it occurred to me I could totally do something about it! So I did!

Recently I bought some Mod Podge for fabric and on a total whim I decided to pick out fabric and use some Mod Podge to cover the case.

I use the case all the time, switching between my prescription sunglasses and eye glasses so I want it to look pretty.

When I started to disassemble the case there was a moment of panic but it turned out to be easy. I took the inner part out, carefully peeled the covers off the front and back of the case and used them as a template on my fabric.

I put a small amount of glue on the case itself but there was still some tacky glue left over on the outside so I just stretched the fabric over the case and didn't worry about making it too neat as the inner part of the case covers the edges of the fabric.

The fabric is Indigo Newsprint, Story by Carrie Bloomston. I love all the messages in the text print. There is even some about sewing! I really like having 'Blessings' on the top of the case, a reminder to be thankful and focus on the positives.

Then I used a glue spreader (like you get in school) to cover the fabric in Mod Podge

I didn't really know what to do when it came to the hinge. I was going to cut the excess off with a craft knife but I'm not sure it would have worked well (maybe after it dried?). After I opened and closed it a few times I realised it didn't matter at all and I like the loose threads so I just added more Mod Podge! I left it to dry for 24hrs.  

So far so good! It lives in my bag, which gets carried on school runs, to the shops etc. It hasn't shown any signs of damage and I'm calling it a win!

It's a fun way to change an everyday object into something that makes me smile!

Friday, 16 September 2016

neon clouds drawstring tote bag

I do like a bit of selfish sewing but it's taken me over a year to finally get round to making myself this awesome tote bag. It took hardly any time to sew, I am in love with it!

I have made this pattern before, which is how I knew I wanted to make one for myself. It is the Drawstring Tote Bag pattern by Svetlana @ Sotak Handmade. It's a really fun sew and there's so many ways to make it your own, I would like to do a patchwork version at some point. 

I added a pocket on the inside, my first time doing that! I knew I would want one if I'm going to be using the bag a lot. 

I also used the same waterproof fabric as my Geeky Flying Geese Bag but this time put it in between the outside and the lining just so my stuff stays dry.

An added advantage is that it's made the bag sturdier and possibly stronger too.

After contemplating using some ribbon for the ties I ultimately decided just to make my own fabric ones, I had enough left over from the lining. I like that it has text on it and I do love Doris Day!

The thickness of the layers meant that top stitching on my basic machine was difficult so instead I added a row of hand stitching in Aurifil 12 wt #2785 and I think it works well. 

Fabrics used: Neon Clouds in orange and navy by HokkohScattered in neutral, Mochi Canvas by Rashida Coleman-Hale bought from The Village Haberdashery last year and Book Panel in Pastel, First of Infinity by Kumiko Fujita for the lining and ties.

☑ This can be ticked off my fal list

linking up:
at chezzetcook this week
and finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts

Thursday, 15 September 2016

restore your creativity

We all have those times when our sewjo goes missing. One day you're zipping through those projects and accomplishing lots and the next day is 'meh' without reason. I try to go with the flow and not force myself to create but there are times I need to little help to finish off projects or produce designs. It can be exasperating when you want to make something but just aren't in the mood. Here are my top 8 tips for ways to get your sewjo working!

1 - Switch off! Yes I mean that literally by turning off your phone, shutting down your computer and avoiding social media. We all get that sensory overload that blocks us creatively and cutting it out really does help sometimes. Then you need to let yourself just be. Take a long shower, have a bath, lie down in a dark room. Shut out the world and be still. Even if it's for one evening it will reboot your mind. 

2 - Switch on! Sometimes you need some stimulation and while Instagram and Pinterest are full of fabulous makes and inspiring pictures, seeing everything all at once is sometimes a bit too much for me when I'm trying to get creative. I prefer to read a good blog, watch quilting videos on YouTube or an online class. That way I feel like there's more depth and focus, it allows me to concentrate, engage in the narrative, and gets me thinking about how I might change a project or what my own version would look like. 

3 - Switch it up! I tend to mix things up and often have several different projects on the go. I like to have some hand piecing, some english paper piecing and a machine project, that way I can work a bit on whatever takes my fancy. If it's none of the above then I might chose another craft, like picking up some embroidery. While working on different projects at the same time might not be your cup of tea, swapping between crafts or techniques for each project could keep you from getting bored and allow you to explore your creative ideas using different mediums. 

4 - Do you! If I feel like something isn't really my taste or style then I won't enjoy doing it. Do what you love, using fabric you love, in colours you love... you get the idea. Working with supplies that speak to you and patterns that excite you really can help kick start that sewjo. Listen to your gut, be honest when things aren't working or you aren't enjoying making them. Find your style, feel free to change it, contradict yourself or stick to one thing, as long as you like it.

5 - Start small! When I'm stuck creativity it can be making something small that brings back the joy of sewing. A zip pouch, a keyring, a doll, a simple bag or a quilt block. Making something quick and easy that doesn't take much time gives you the satisfaction of a finish and can spur you on to greater things!

6 - Scribble! Doodle, draw, write things down, cross them out, colour outside the lines, pick up a pen/pencil/crayon and just play. I like using words because that's the way I think and just writing out lists of random words can sometimes spark an idea for me. Keep notebooks to jot down ideas or projects you want to make and then you can refer to them for inspiration.

7 - Feed yourself! Actual nutrition is obviously important but I mean this in the hippy way. Do things that inspire you, whatever that may be, and allow yourself time to recharge and have some self care. Get outside, visit a museum, visit a friend. Feed your soul and replenish your creativity. One of my favourite ways to do this is people watching. Going into the city centre, sitting in a cafe window and just watching the world go by. Another thing I like to do is make lists of my plans and goals, it keeps me focused and gives me reassurance about what I'm doing. Which leads me to...

8 - Purpose! Think about why you're being creative. What are you doing it for? There will be motivation to get creating when you really consider the value and purpose of what you are making. This feels especially pertinent to me this evening, as my daughter and I went to visit her friend in hospital. This young girl is having chemotherapy and while the prognosis seems good overall, there are complications she may not recover from. Joan made her a sweet blanket teddy (she did some stitching and stuffed part of a piece of fabric, which I sewed together - shame I didn't get a picture as it was very unique!) and I gifted her a quilt. Sewing for someone that needs comfort, for one of the charities that collects quilts, or for a friend or family member, is probably one of the reasons we all started and then continued to sew. Give meaning to what you do. 

I hope this might prove helpful! 
How do you restore your creativity? Let me know any of your tips in the comments!

Linking up with Poppy and Poochie for Collette's brilliant series 'how to grow your creativity' - you can link up your own posts or instagram pictures for a chance to win fabric :)

Monday, 12 September 2016

Buffalo Check winner

The winner of the Buffalo Check Carolina Gingham bundle giveaway from Fat Quarter Shop is:

Congratulations!! It's always lovely to chose winners and even more so when it turns out to be a blogging and sewing friend! I have sent you an email :)

Don't be sad if you didn't win I have a special bloggiversary giveaway coming up later this week as my blog recently turned 5!! 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

my continuing creative story

I have always been a bit crafty. There were scrunchies and friendship bracelets when I was younger, some black work embroidery and I enjoyed craft design technology and art at school. I did some jewellery making, knitting, card making, lots of painting and drawing but I never really stuck at any of it.

To be honest I'm not sure how or why I began quilting. It wasn't even that long ago, I started my blog at the same time as I had just finished my first quilt... AAHHH I've missed my five year bloggiversary! Will have to do something about that and have a little celebration soon!

Anyway it might have been the quilters in my family encouraging me or maybe stumbling across sewing blogs but I am largely self taught. I just went for it and completely fell in love with patterns, fabric, the whole process of patchwork and quilting. It felt so good to find something I loved doing, with so many possibilities and techniques to learn.

Initially using simple patterns, often with monochrome or complementary colours of fabric,  I made quilts for family and friends. Fairly quickly I wanted to challenge myself - adapting patterns, sewing curves, free motion quilting and creating my own designs all in the first year. Then I began hand quilting and learnt how to do English Paper Piecing - this was a big deal for me! I had sped through making quite a few quilts on my machine and it was a really nice chance of pace, I am still working on finishing my first EPP quilt (I am hand quilting it now!). Applique and hand piecing have also become firm favourites. To see all the quilts I have finished so far click here.

Though I never considered myself to be someone that gets bored easily I do think being able to sew on machine or by hand, as well as having different projects to work on, is part of what has kept me going. I am inspired by fabric, the potentiality of putting shapes together, cutting, piecing and sewing. 

I still have so much to learn, explore and develop when it comes to quilting and I am excited by that. I want to create more designs and make make make.

I am linking up to Poppy and Poochie for her Grow Your Creativity series - check out Lucy from SkinnyMalinkyQuilts guest post here!

To read my third post about creativity, click here

Monday, 5 September 2016

✜ Buffalo Check Gingham ~ Fat Quarter Shop Giveaway! ✜

**Giveaway now closed**

Gingham. I love it. To me it feels homely and evokes comfort, warmth and it just has a laid back honest vibe that makes me happy! Tiny, large, pastel, bright, autumnal - whatever the type, gingham is perfect in my book.

Fat Quarter Shop are kindly giving away this stunning bundle of Buffalo Check Carolina Gingham to one of you!

That is 15 fat quarters in a beautiful array of colours. This 1" wide gingham by Robert Kaufman is a brilliant stash staple.

**Giveaway now closed**

To win a Buffalo Check Carolina Gingham Bundle you have two possible chances:

1. Leave a comment, tell me what does gingham bring to mind for you?

2. Share the giveaway on social media and let me know how you shared in a separate comment! (optional entry).

⟡ Open internationally, a winner will be chosen on Monday 12th September 2016. 
⟡ Please make sure you leave your email in the comments so I have a way to contact you if you win! No reply blogger, no chance.

Good Luck!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

classes and sewcial evenings

Here are the classes I am teaching September - December 2016. This is my favourite time of year and I'm excited for this terms classes!

Beginner's Welcome!
Saturday 1st October or Thursday 1st December
This class is for newbies who want to sew and learn about patchwork and quilting. Lucy will start at the beginning with the basics of using a sewing machine; the steps of making a quilt; demystify some common quilting terms; provide useful quilt maths and give you great advice to get you starting sewing! The class is a perfect starting point for beginners.
All day 10.00am – 4.00pm.

See It All Bags
Friday 14th October 
These handy zip bags are excellent for carrying sewing essentials, make up or stationery and they make great gifts! Lucy will teach you tips for sewing with vinyl and you will make a variety of different sized bags. Pattern by Laura Zuckerkuss. Suitable for all levels.
All Day 10.00am – 4.00pm.

Machine Quilting Part 1 with Alison Forbes & Lucy Brennan - FULL*
Thursday 3rd November
This is the first of two days of machine quilting; you can choose to do either one or both of the classes. In this course we will cover a lot of the basics of machine quilting, looking at threads, tension, waddings, needles and we will practice some straight line and simple free motion quilting. Suitable for All levels. Machine Sewn.
All Day 10.00am – 4.00pm.

Machine Quilting Part 2 with Lucy Brennan & Alison Forbes - FULL*
Thursday 17th November  
Plan your quilting and put it into practice. In this second class we will expand on basic quilting patterns and will cover the use of stencils, marking and joining “quilt as you go”. You can bring a quilt top to the class (optional) and leave feeling confident about quilting! Suitable for all levels.
All Day 10.00am – 4.00pm.

*We should be able to put on extra dates for these classes, please check my classes page or follow Patchfinders on facebook for updates!

Pickle Dish blocks - FULL
Saturday 5th November
Learn how to foundation paper piece and sew curves making these classic blocks with a contemporary twist. Perfect for combining colours/prints, using a charm pack or fabric scraps. The blocks can be made into a cushion or make more for a quilt. Suitable for all levels. All Day 10.00am – 4.00pm.

Sewcial Evening with Lucy Brennan and Jayne Barratt
Thursday 20th October
Thursday 24th November
Come and join us for an evening sewing session! Tutors are on hand to help with your projects or to start something new. Jayne can advise on dressmaking and Lucy can advise on patchwork and quilting. You will be able to purchase items from the shop on the evening. Suitable for all levels.
Evening 7.00pm – 9.30 pm. £8/per session.

Classes are all held at Patchfinders quilt shop. Click here to see a full list of all the classes at the shop!
If you'd like to attend please call the shop, even if classes are full you can be put on a waiting list and possibly that class will run again in the future.

159 London Road South, Poynton, Cheshire, SK12 1LQ

Tel: 01625 262518

Thursday, 1 September 2016

my creative process in short

There is no formula for how I work and I like it that way. Quilting is my passion and 'my time' so it is very liberating to explore my creativity freely. Of course I want things to be good but how I get there, the process, can be changeable.

When I starting quilting I stuck to patterns and fabric combinations that met the 'rules' of colour theory, general advice I got from blog and articles, and the inspiration of seeing other peoples quilts. I soon realised that lots of white space or sticking to one fabric collection wasn't me and I like odd colour combinations and fabrics that probably 'shouldn't' go together. So I mixed things up, chopped up some quilt tops, added or changed patterns to make them work for me and my aesthetic. Often it is fabric that speaks to me the most, or a cool pattern that I just have to make. From there I am now comfortable deciding on how to make it my own and the ways I can adapt it. 

Hexie Tiles  - pattern from 627handworks on craftsy

My creative process is full of contradictions though, because as sure as I am about how I want something to look, I nearly always doubt myself, wonder if it's good enough, and sometimes that sucks some of the joy out of the process of making. That is why I'm so interested in joining Collette of Poppy and Poochie for her mini series 'How to Grow Your Creativity'. She is exploring different aspects of creativity and how we can nurture it. You can link up blog posts or social media pictures on her blog - there are prizes too! This week is 'creative process', to read Collette's post and link up click here.

The way I create changes according to my mood and I have spent some time thinking about what 'my process' is and I'm not sure I can explain it well. During art classes and exams in high school we always had to give examples and describe our process, from inspiration or idea through to finished piece. Literally sometimes I just see something in my head and make/draw/sew it. At school I had to make it all up because there was no 'journey'. So sometimes I just make things!

When I do think things through I rarely sketch first, I'm much more likely to write. Names, words, ideas - writing is the best way for me to sort out through my creativity. Once I've done that I might draw out a layout or quick doodle.

And again, just like at high school, I can't force my creativity. I can't turn it on or off and there's no way it is showing up if I'm not in the right head space. So I go with it. The flow, the spark, the sewjo. When I'm not feeling it I might just go back to working on a WIP that follows a pattern, make something simple, or do a different craft altogether.

Once I'm working on a project it is open to change too, I might come up with a different way of finishing something or a quilting pattern that is different from my original plan. This is something I have found really hard and it has been a struggle to accept that it is ok to make changes (totally against my nature)... but now I realise it is freeing and the more I allow myself to stand back, reassess and play with my projects the happier I am with my work. 

It might be interesting to 'witness' my process a little more, in a way I do that through blogging and I explain a lot of my ideas here. I probably am just busy doing rather than noticing where my ideas come from, letting my creativity happen!

Share your creative process and join in, I am certainly fascinated and would love to see! Head over to Poppy and Poochie to find out more (like winning lovely fabric!), link up and use #howtogrowyourcreativity on instagram. What is your creative process?

credit: top photo taken of me by Sabrina Fuller

To read my second post about creativity, click here