Thursday, 26 January 2017

happy discoveries ~ Martha ~ Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-Along

Today is my turn as a guest blogger for the Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt Sew-along with Fat Quarter Shop and Gnome Angel. I have made block #58 Martha.

I am hand sewing all my blocks, switching between hand piecing and English Paper Piecing. I do find hand piecing to be quicker but I still enjoy cutting up papers occasionally. Recently I saw a link on Miriam's instagram to a tutorial by The DIY Addict for a different kind of stitch and I really wanted to try it out. I know some of you are already using it and really enjoy the result it gives. To see The DIY Addict's Flat Back Stitch tutorial video, click here!

Here's what I found trying the Flat Back Stitch for the first time:

⬝ Use tape! It really does help keep your seams straight. I used some washi tape and it worked really well.
⬝ My stitches are really tiny and close together, I did this when I started doing whip stitch too, I think it's my natural anxiety making me overly cautious.
⬝ It was slow. Again I was really slow when I started epp and, like anything new, I am sure I will speed up a little with practice (though all hand sewing is slow!)
⬝ It was tricky to sew together the sections, not being used to the stitch made joining the component parts together a bit difficult. I think this is just me getting used to a different way of doing it and finding out the best way to jiggle those points to meet.
⬝ You really can't see the stitches from the front!! This is a huge bonus for me, especially when my epp blocks are going to sit with my hand pieced blocks. You can't see the stitches on my hand piecing blocks either but the ones I have whip stitched you can. Now I'm not saying that's a bad thing, after all it is handmade work but it is satisfying to have them be invisible.
⬝ I have only made one block but the stitches seem strong. I have tried doing ladder stitch and variations before but felt the stitches didn't hold up as well as whip stitch. The flat back stitch does in my opinion.

I am going to make more blocks using this stitch, I would love to get quicker and the end result really impressed me!

#58 Martha
This letter is all about the "delightful memories" of being raised in the country. I chose the lighter brown fabric to represent the "cool dust pushing up between my bare toes", the brighter fabric in the centre for "bursting a red-ripe watermelon over my knee" and the mellow dots for "turning somersaults into the deep, fragrant hay in the newly filled mow".

One of the aspects of quilting that brings me so much joy is trying new things! I really enjoyed making a block with this new stitch and learning a different way to epp. If you try it please let me know what you think!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

neutrals and celebrations

One very beautiful addition to my stash this week, a gorgeous neutral charm pack from Karen Lewis Textiles. I love her new prints and I will be adding these to my collection of Karen's fabrics! 

We have had a really busy weekend with lots of family fun as it was Lois' 4th birthday! I can't believe how quickly they grow. I loved seeing her joy in small things like cake and banners but her favourite thing had to be the humongous unicorn my sister got her!! My Dad and Nan came over to take us for a pub lunch, then we went to my mums for some games and cake. We also went to see Moana, which was really good and I might need to get the soundtrack.

On Saturday night my husband and were treated to a meal to celebrate a friend's birthday. We had an incredible 14 course meal at Manchester House. I had the vegetarian menu and it was utterly delicious! I've never eaten food like it. I was so full that we had to have the 14th course (a dessert) to take home. An amazing experience!

I am working on lots of secret sewing at the moment, some of which will be revealed later this week!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend :)


Sunday, 15 January 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long ~ Meet the Global Host Team ~ Nicky

Each month we are going to be introducing the hosts of this years Finish-A-Long so you can get to know a bit more about us! First up is my lovely friend Nicky...

Hi !  My name is Nicky Eglinton and I'm one of the global 2017 Finish-A-Along hosts.  This is my second year as co-host so I should know what I'm doing.  

I live in the South of England but was born in bonnie Scotland and after a few years studying in Aberdeen and Glasgow, I came to London to get my first job!   I loved the theatres, cinema, restaurants, walking across Waterloo Bridge and looking one way at the Houses of Parliament and the other way at St Paul's.  Life was good!

Houses of Parliament to the left, 

the dome of St. Paul's to the right

Since then I have moved even further south and out of the hubbub of the City to the quiet more rural life of Sussex to raise a family with hubby.   It has suited us well and we have three lovely children and a cat and a dog!   Here are the pets in portrait and 'helping' me quilt!

Saffy and Maddie

In my childhood I learnt to stitch from my mother - first toys, and cross stitch, then clothes in my teens and twenties (back then it was actually cheaper to do that). 

Meet Dandelion - I still have him!

She also taught me knitting and crochet.  She loved passing on her skills though we struggled at times as she was right handed and I was left handed.  Every thing I did looked wrong to her as I was doing it in what seemed an awkward way....and there were very few lefthanded tools to help!  So I now prefer right handed scissors - in fact I cannot use lefthanded ones!!
Jumping forward a bit, to maintain my sanity after kid no 1, I went to an evening class about patchwork and quilting.  My chance to talk with grown ups!   I was completely in love with applique!   It was all I did!  And then I ended up on a course at  The Quilt Room to make this quilt in 2005!  


Friendship's Garden Quilt

by Alma Allen & Cherie Ralston

The applique was easy for me but would you believe I was terrified of the HST border round each block and the quilt remained in pieces, and on several FAL lists.
Carolyn Forster taught me piecing and introduced me to blogging!   Wow has she got a lot to answer for!   I started blogging as I wanted to record my stitching and gardening - hence my blog name Mrs Sew and Sow!

The sewing has taken over somewhat but this year I will be back in my garden and bringing lots of flowers into the house!  Wonder if a flower bed can count as a WIP or UFO??   What do you think?
Well back to that quilt I started in 2005 I kept moving it from one FAL list to the next!  I have joined up with the FAL since the beginning - though I may have missed a few quarters - and it has helped enormously - mainly from all the encouragement I received from commenters who have become friends.  
Suddenly it became the time to finish that quilt!  I even had to learn FMQ in order to do it !   

And here it is!  So all of you who have longterm WIPs/UFOs do not despair!

Finishing that longstanding UFO was like a release - it had been a block hanging over me!   I started actually finishing more stuff.   
Since 2012 I have been keen to meet up with people, and join in the quilting  community.  I went to the Fat Quarterly Retreats in London and learnt about the Siblings Together charity.  I have been making quilts for the charity since then - one or two to begin with, then I joined a bee to make more, helped others finish quilts and finally last year Maria and I were leading the campaign to make 100 quilts for the charity.  

The charity helps children in the UK social care system retain bonds with their siblings at holiday camps.  They are given a quilt to remind them of the fun times together.  

We will be aiming to make another 100 quilts in 2017 with help from a generous community of quilters !   Would you like to join us?  You can find more information here and here!

I love scraps and have been running a monthly link up, #Scraptastictuesday, on the second Tuesday of every month, with my co host Leanne (who also hosts FAL).  We like to celebrate the origins of patchwork, though Leanne uses scraps in more of an improv way than I do but you will find all sorts of inspiration there! 

I am a scrappy quilter for ecological and economical reasons!  I like to hang onto those pounds and pence and keep my scraps out of the landfill sites!    And I just love cramming as many different fabrics as possible into one quilt.  

We would love you to join us with your scrappy projects (they don't need to be finished), plans, and storage systems.

I try to make a scrappy sampler quilt each year with tutorials showing you how to make your own!  2015 is finished and 2016 is basted ready for a finish this quarter I hope!

Liberty Sampler 2015 & Karen Lewis Sampler 2016

And now I'm setting up a local group of stitchers in Sussex with my friends and co-founders Kelly and Jane and we are actually going to meet up and stitch together in a room!   And eat cake!   With no children !  It is starting this month !

I seem to have made lots of quilts.  I find the creative process both stimulating and therapeutic.  I do tend to make up my own patterns though on occasion if I love something I will try to make my own version of it.

Here are some of my favourite quilt finishes

Top Left : Nordik Quilt; Top Right & Clockwise:  Double Sided Welsh Blanket Quilt in Karen Lewis Textiles, pattern by Mary Emmens;  Hand stitched and quilted scrappy clamshell quilt;  Vintage Squares quilt; Stingy Bee Row Quilt  (both this and Nordik were made with help from members of Bee a Brit Stingy )

And here is one I hope to finish this coming quarter!  It is my take on the traditional Double Wedding Ring (my own variation) - a lot of it stitched by hand!  I used acryllic templates made by Marti Michell to help with the cutting and designing of these blocks.

Hoopla! Quilt

 My FAL list is always a long one (yes I am a member of Archie the Wonder Dog's #ridiculouslylongFAList ) as when I used to choose a few items for my list I always wanted to work on something else!  Much easier to keep everything out in the open I found!

I hope you will join us on our journey to complete those listed projects and I look forward to seeing your finishes!  Remember to cheer on the rest of the community - it really does make a difference!

birthday stashing

A random mix of new goodies this week. It was my birthday on Thursday so there were some lovely presents, I had a really nice day and my husband and I went to see La La Land which was such a beautiful film. I can't stop humming the theme song! I had a visit from my sister and brother-in-law this weekend along with my Dad and Nan. It's been great and I love relaxing family weekends!

My only purchase this week was embroidery thread from SewandSo, I have plans for this lovely lot. I think the variegated ones are so pretty:

As a birthday present my Auntie very kindly got me membership to The Quilters' Guild. She is a member and it was something we had talked about but I hadn't got round to joining. I've really been enjoying reading The Quilter, the national magazine of the Guild. I don't think there are any regional groups close to me but it's nice to be part of the Guild and find out everything they do. 

I had completely worn out my old trainers so got some new ones for my birthday (on sale from Schuh). I'm a bit in love with the little shapes on the front and back! 

I was having a tidy up of my desk (though it's an organised mess!) and found these perle thread that I was given by a friend. I definitely want to do some hand quilting with these, better get some quilt tops basted then!!


Saturday, 14 January 2017

stripped back ~ FAL Q1 2017

I am still experiencing that new year motivated feeling and am trying to get my projects finished! This year I am thrilled to be one of the hosts of the Finish-A-Long and, although I can't now win prizes, I love joining in and the FAL has really helped keep me motivated the past few years. I will be cheering you all on as we conquer all those unfinished projects together! 

There are some really exciting projects happening for me this year and I will be doing a lot of work in the coming months, so I don't want to be overly ambitious with my list this quarter. I need to get into a flow and see how much of my own sewing I will be able to fit in. So with that, this is my short and sweet list:

Here is my list of projects I want to complete for the Finish-A-Long...

1. My Everything In It's Place Bag - just a bit more binding and a couple of finishing touches to do. These are some of the panels that I quilted for the bag:

2. Guitar Baby Quilt - For my sister's baby due at the end of February! Still needs basting and quilting:

3. Octopus Pouch - I got this awesome fabric from Skinny Malinky Quilts and am making the Triangle Patchwork Box Pouch from Patchwork Please by Ayumi Takahashi:

4.  Hexie tiles - I love these and would like them to be a cushion:

5. Last year I had a Christmas banner on my FAL list, I realised that wasn't going to happen because I was just too busy and have decided instead to change it to a banner featuring my word for the year. Then I can hang it up and see it everyday! I have fabric picked out and some words to appliqué.

There are a heap more WIPs I would like to get through but I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I'm really hoping to get all of these done, I need to clear some space! I also plan to have a destash of fabric soon so keep an eye out on my instagram for that!

If you are quick there is still a bit of time to get your FAL list written up and join the link up before it closes today, click here to link up on my blog

Charm About You

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Catherine's Wheel

Well I don't know what she's going to call her quilt but it definitely is starting to look like a Catherine Wheel to me! Here are the bee blocks I made for Catherine:

This is the Fireworks Block by Marcia Hohn, the pattern can be found here. I have to say I struggled with it a little bit - it made more sense when I read each page and the fabric requirements are at the end! I also had a hard time printing out the templates for the larger triangles, I'm not sure if it was my printer or A4 paper?! Anyway I got there in the end. I used fabrics from my scraps, Catherine asked for jewel toned colours and my first pull was more of a rainbow but I was drawn to these firey colours and I think it evokes a firework really well.

Next was a simple triangle using 2.5" strips of grey and 1.5" strips of colour. They are so effective when you start to put them all together, I think this quilt is going to be incredible!

Tomorrow is my birthday so I'm looking forward to a night out with my husband. I really like birthdays and I'm thinking that 37 will be excellent. Having my age go along with the years is so helpful (if I can remember the year!) ;)

Hope you're all having a good week!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Go-Go bowl and Sajou sewing supplies

Isn't this such a cute bowl?! I made it using Go-Go Kim's fantastic pattern 'Go-Go Bowl', available from Go-Go Kim Sews on Etsy or on Craftsy

I loved making it, the pattern is really well written with great instructions. The blanket stitching was so meditative and simple hand sewing during the evening is my favourite thing to do. This would look lovely in so many fabrics but I went with a retro / modern mix. 

Thread is a big passion of mine, I like trying different brands and types. I got some Fil Au Chinois Gloving thread from Sajou last year and it's such good quality, strong but fine. So I thought I would try their embroidery thread too and picked out some pretty colours:

I also bought this Garnish Awl. After doing the Sew Sturdy Travel Organizers class and seeing how Annie used her stiletto, I really wanted to try one. Despite looking everywhere I couldn't find an awl, I thought we had one but suspect it might have been a big DIY one anyway! So this cute green one will be perfect. She uses it to help her sew at the machine, to hold things in place or any time when you want to put your fingers close to the needle but can't. When I start to use it I will let you know if it is as handy as it she makes it seem, I suspect it will be.

Sajou also kindly sent these lovely thread cards with my order, I especially love the Eiffel tower one!

I hope you've all had a lovely weekend, my kids are back at school tomorrow so I might be able to crack on with some sewing projects!


*If you click the link to Sajou and make a purchase you and I will both receive a €5.00 voucher so we can buy more goodies! Once you've registered you will get a code to share with people too.

2017 Finish-A-Long • Quarter 1

2017...are you ready for a new year? A new year a new list!

As you are probably aware, the 2017 FAL is remaining global - a community of bloggers across the world, jointly hosting the FAL. Our hosts are:

  • Sarah - Sew me - Northern Ireland

For those of you who are new to the FAL, it is a place to find motivation and encouragement to complete those unfinished projects that are hanging about becoming UFOs. Every quarter you post a list of projects you hope to finish in the next three months, and then at the end of the quarter, you post a link from your blog, Flickr or Instagram of each successful finish from your original list.

Each finish is an entry for wonderful prizes from our sponsors. There is no penalty for not finishing a listed project, so feel free to make your list long or short, as you wish. The 2017 Schedule and Rules for the FAL are on my permanent FAL page, let me know if you have any questions. Here are the fantastic and generous sponsors for Q1 of the FAL - you can see each of their prizes listed under their logo (think about visiting them and saying thank you):

As you may recall from last year, there was a return of tutorial week at the end of each quarter, between the opening of the link for finishes and the day that link closes. Are you enjoying this? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below! This will take place each quarter. Each host works hard to put these together so I hope you are visiting their blogs to encourage them.
If you have a tutorial that you would like to share, please let me or another host know.

It's time to round up those projects you want to finish over the next three months, take a photo of each one and make your list. Please ensure that you have at least started your projects - pulled fabric with a pattern or plan is not considered a UFO, and remember it is finished projects that will get you an entry toward the above listed prizes. So while we love to see your bee blocks, the "finish" is when they are a completed, usable project.

It is very helpful if you tag your list as #2017FALQ1yourname when posting on social media: Flickr, Facebook & Instagram. Using the same hashtag over the quarter when sharing progress or finishes before the link, helps the hosts find your original list quickly - especially when this is done over a 3 month period. IMPORTANT: Don't forget to link your finishes up when the quarter closes.

The 2017 Q1 link for your list of proposed finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs. You need only link your list once, on one blog - and that link will show up on all of the blogs. If you are using Facebook, Flickr or Instagram, link a mosaic and put your list in the description. Katy of The Littlest Thistle has a great tutorial on how to link-up if you need it.

We also ask that you become part of the FAL community. Please check out the links of others - visit and comment on their lists. We all need encouragement to get those finishes done, so please share some of your own too. When creating your list there is one thing to remember....No deductions for not completing something so ..... Aim High! Nothing to lose!!!

Well Now..... Get those lists together and get linked up. The Q1 linky party will stay open until 11 pm EST, January 14, 2017- as we are global, you might want to check your time zone to determine your last possible time to link. Remember: you only need to link up on ONE hosting blog and it will automatically show up on all hosting blogs.