Saturday, 8 March 2014

Never again

Hello there

I've done it. I've battled on. I persevered. Whichever way you word it, I've actually finished the celtic knot block we did over two weeks ago at my patchwork class. What a bloomin' relief! The whole process is so long winded and fiddly; not my idea of fun at all. One of the ladies said that she'd drunk three glasses of Jack Daniels to keep her going but I've remained sober whenever I've done bits of it - how, is beyond me though. 

You can tell I didn't like it as the stitching isn't great and some of the lines are wonky but (in fear of repeating myself) I finished it! Hallelujah! It still needs a rinse to get the visible placement marks off the red fabric but other than putting it into whatever project it ends up in, that's it with that block. Never again! I'll machine embroider a design like that if I want in the future but I won't applique bias binding again.

Well that takes me nicely onto my next whinge. My embroidery machine has broken and gone to the lovely people at Hobkirk's in Blackburn. That's my nearest Husqvarna Viking service centre, which was recommended to me, after a bit of a battle. After doing the 'handmade' embroidery last weekend, it has displayed an error message and won't work at all; either to sew or embroider. That doesn't make me a happy girl but going into the shop for the first time did. It only took us 45 minutes to get there, there's free parking (although Chris did end up paying £1 in the other parking area by mistake) and the shop is full of allsorts of machines, fabric, crafty equipment, haberdashery and friendly staff. I'm hoping to go there again soon to collect my repaired machine and I won't take 'him indoors' or the dogs then, so I can spend more time browsing. We stopped off on the way home at Rivington reservoir, where we'd never been before either and had a lovely time walking the dogs in the gorgeous surroundings. I also had Tiffin cake for the first time at the cafe there, which was very nice! 

Another 'sad' thing is that the lady from 'A Place to Set' (me!) had to say no to the second floor office/studio space that Nancy had offered me last week. It's still a fab location, as the space on the first floor was, but the two flights of narrow stairs would not have been suitable for people coming to the studio with such things as sewing machines. I know that I desperately want this studio idea but there's no point in being silly about it and just taking anything. 

So moving on, I'm struggling motivation wise, it has to be said but must push on and do more projects for the craft fair I'm doing on March 22nd. 

Breathing in.

Take care out there and hold onto your dreams

Monday, 3 March 2014

A few bits

Hello there

The first thing you might notice is that there's a 'Love Patchwork and quilting' magazine banner on the top of my blog now. I've decided to join their affiliation programme, as I mention them quite a bit in my posts these days, so I might as well see if I can encourage some of my readers to subscribe to it too, as I do think it's a great magazine. More about that as time goes on.

As timing would have it, this month's issue arrived today too, along with the freebie labels for quilts. I've only managed a short read of it but hey, just look at the front cover with that fab quilt/wall hanging using the cathedral windows method. Yet another thing on my to-do list, which is now Huuuuuuuge!

I also want to show you the 'hand made' sign I've embroidered for any craft fairs I do and the studio I hope to set up this year as well. (more news on that in a minute). It was a freebie design from the fab folk at Urban Threads. It matches the 'come in, we're open' sign I did a month or so ago, as shown either side of this paragraph.

 Likey likey, likey alot :-) 

That's all for now as I'm shattered. 

Ooops, almost forgot to mention that I heard from Nancy who owns the building, where I missed out on the studio space she has available. News is, that her large attic room has become available! I've asked her how much that will be, so I will keep you informed as to goings on, when they go on! :-) I'm not sure that two flights of stairs is great but the location is still wonderful, so alot of fast thinking to be done.

Take care out there

Sunday, 2 March 2014

For this week

Hello there

For this week's foray into craftiness I've finished a placemat set which has been on the go for quite some time. I got the inspiration from Liz Betts from Quilty Pleasures, who wrote an article for issue 3 of the 'Love Patchwork and quilting' magazine.

I've added my own take on it, not only by choosing different fabric but also by less obvious changes. I had the circles fabric already in my stash and then got some cotton/linen mix fabric. I did buy some of the Summersville Spring fabric that she used in the article but that will make my next set of this design of placemats. I love the way that fabric choice has such a huge impact on a design. 
Only 26 hexies ready for paper removal and
sewing in place

I marked out the hexagon's placemat sections onto the first placemat and actually started hand sewing but it didn't take me long at all to realise that 'popping knots' isn't so easy and also that hand quilting these placemats would take far too long for them to be a financially viable proposition. I'm doing a local craft fair on March 22nd and I know that all they'll want is probably Mother's Day gifts but I can still sell these online, where I have a better chance of attracting people who are interested in hand made items. Paper piecing and hand sewing 30 1.5in hexagons was more than enough handsewing to contend with for the £40 I can charge reasonably. 

That was a few weeks ago and in that time I went to my patchwork and Wendy said that King Tut is what she uses for quilting. Oh boy! Superior Threads who make it, do it in variegated colours - just look at the colour I used for this quilt - lush! It wasn't cheap at £8 but so so worth it and it's really affected the way this project developed.

I got three more online since using this  as a) there's a deal on at Barnyarns, where you can buy three for £17.95 and b) I want to have them close to hand for any future projects I need to quilt.

I've put the hexagons in slightly different
places on each placemat
I do like the way the quilting looks on the back
of the placemats too. They're definitely reversible

The worst part of this set was the binding. I decided to do the double fold technique using 2 1/4 in strips of fabric. I don't like it, as it's far too bulky at the join and round the mitred corners. I was chuffed to only have a bit of the fabric stripping left when I'd finished though.

The coasters were the best part, as they're nice and quick and easy and make the most of the King Tut thread and the hexagon shape.

I'll be working with linen mixes again. Nice.

I also managed to machine embroider a birthday card for a friend on Friday afternoon and we'd had two days of sun, so despite being full of cold in the middle of the week, I've ended the week feeling quite bright. I forgot to take photos of the card but I'll see if the recipient wouldn't mind taking some photos for me and I'll share them another day. 

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you may well remember that in January I made two Superman cape outfits for two little lads in New Zealand. I know that you liked seeing me wearing it (!!!)  but I can guarantee that you'll much prefer seeing one of the boys wearing it. I was so chuffed that they liked them.

Take care out there

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Well what do you know? A finished project!!

Hello there

Lately I seem to be starting projects alot but not actually finishing any. At my fortnightly patchwork class, I make lots of different blocks to practise various techniques but I've yet to make anything with them. The latest two blocks I've done/started are the Dresden plate:

and the bias tape Celtic knot, which is currently waiting for me to start hand sewing it in place - guess what I'll be spending all my time doing whilst I sit in the waiting room during my daughter's piano lessons on Thursdays?!

This past week I did manage to make piles of pom poms with my new pom pom makers whilst I was travelling and down in Kent for four days. I got the yarn at a reduced price at a local store and it's Stylecraft life 4ply, so lovely soft yarn in aqua and cardinal. They're so easy and satisfying to make.
The cat wasn't sure what to
make of it

The one thing I have finished yesterday though is a cushion cover using the love heart cottage cutwork design applique from Mandy Shaw's 'Stitch at Home' book.

 I've only just realised that I was so slack with blog posts at the end of last year, that I didn't show you my Noel cushion cover from Mandy Shaw's kit - here's a few photos:
The quilting I did was barely visible 

You have to love ric rac 

The red colour is much brighter/deeper than this photo
 The reindeer wreath is hand embroidered - yet more time
spent sewing during my daughter's piano lessons.

I'm purely showing you this to help give you the full story of my completed project.
After making that, it left me with a cushion base and no cover after Christmas. I had some of the linen fabric left from the kit, so I bought some gorgeous red polka dot fabric for some backing and used some red polka dot felt I had and made the love heart cottage  and stitched it onto the linen - you'll never guess where that hand sewing happened! I loved the Noel kit but I still don't like the instructions she gives for her 'novel' way of applying zips but hey, it's still a lovely cushion cover after I messed about with the zip layout.

KNEW I should've put that toggle trim on! The
edges look quite bare now but it will normally live on
a black sofa, so it'll show up better

The little flower buttons and the free motion quilting,
were an inspired last minute addition I think

Take care out there

Friday, 14 February 2014

I've had better days

Hello there

My last post was so positive but I'm afraid you've caught me on a down day today. I've been through feelings of anger and resentment today and definitely frustration. 

Why? I suspect you're asking. Has something major happened? Are the family all ok? 

The answers to those is that nothing major has happened and as far as I know, everyone is fine. Other than me.

The route of my issue is that I had promised to make a pillow dress for the lovely folk at Grace & Favour, as they're holding an event tomorrow for the 'Dress a girl around the world' campaign. I can't make it to that, as I'm going down to see my dad in Kent for the first time since he moved to the UK a couple of years ago. I've known about this for some time but I've been doing other sewing instead; thinking I'd finish that in time. 

Leaving things until the last minute is something I always warn my daughter against; 'as you never know what'll turn up at the last minute'. My own words haunt me. How true they are, as today I've had to nip in and out of the house for various chores all day and the weather's been rubbish, so my walk with the dogs was not pleasant; again.
The root of my annoyance

I've finished the dress but it's unsatisfactory. The girl who gets the dress, probably won't think anything of the sort and I certainly hope that it helps to protect her and make her feel a bit special. But I don't like the sheet fabric I used, as it's see through. I thought that I didn't have enough metreage of proper cotton in a suitable design but in actual fact, I do have enough. So instead, I've had to do closed seam circle applique to try to cover up most of where her body will be. I felt circles were suitable as the cotton fabric has circles in it's design. I had to do closed seam, as on the main campaign website, it said that they didn't want raw edges. That seems extreme to me and why does it matter but I thought it might have something to do with the idea of giving the girls the 'edge' when it comes to the dresses improving their status and therefore warding off any potential male threats. 

Let it be said that closed seam circle applique, isn't for the faint hearted, particularly the small circles, which I had to do, as I only had a certain amount of interfacing left. You start off by cutting the circle shapes out of the fabric. Place the circle right side up. Place the iron-on (doesn't have to be iron-on) interfacing with the sticky side down, on top of the right side of the circle fabric and pin it in place.
Then cut the interfacing around the circle shape and sew them together using a 1/4in foot. 
Separate the fabric from the interfacing in the middle and make a slit in the interfacing ONLY! Don't go all the way to the edge; just do enough to allow you to turn the circle the right way around. Be gentle when turning it out, as interfacing isn't strong enough to be manhandled really. Turn it right side out. Then use a pencil to push the edges out; making them smoother. Then, if you've used iron-on interfacing, place your circle onto your project with the interfacing on the right side of the project and iron on. If normal interfacing is used, just pin it in place, ready to sew. Then the fun begins of sewing them in to place. I used a zig zag foot which has a guide on the right hand side, which you line up against the edge of the circle and sew. Sounds easy right? Well, you try sewing the smaller circles, which require a very steady pace of speed, to enable you to go round the circle with a steady line and not all over the place, as you turn the fabric round at the same time.

I got to the post office by 5.20pm, so I thought 'oh yes, just in time', only to be told that collection was made at 5. Groan! Well, swear words in my head, was more of the real response.

Grace and Favour have a tutorial for the basic dress instructions, so please do give it a go, as the basic design is really simple. I just didn't have the material or bias binding which I was happy with; they were just 'make-do's'. I think it's a great project to do (with the right materials) for beginners or more experienced sewers, as the experienced ones can add pockets or put a scallop trim around the hem or well... the world's your oyster really. It's such a pretty little dress and so easy for littlies to wear and for us mum's to wash.


I've had dinner since starting this post and a chat with Chris, so I feel more in control now and not so down on myself. I do really hate it though, when stuff gets in the way of my crafting/my targets and when I don't plan properly of course.

Moving on, the positive is that I've made a dress for a girl in a poor country and hopefully it'll have a good impact on her life in the way required.

I'm off to pack.

Take care out there and try not to be as hard on yourself, as I am on me.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Is now the time?

Hello there

I think I'm safe to start this blog post. Fingers crossed but I will make it quick, just incase!

I haven't had time lately to do any posts, as I'm a busy beaver right now. I have been sewing like a thing possessed but also plotting and scheming and basically I'm not convinced this blog has a long life expectancy anymore because of what I've been up to. 

I'm working on a baby quilt:

It's almost taking over my life, as I'm so brand new to hexagon sewing but boy I haven't made life easy on myself, starting with such an ambitious project. I even had to fussy cut alot of the hexagons and I have to try to make sure they're facing the right way up, when sewing them together. It's a huge learning curve for me but the quilter's quarter is now my new best friend and the Clover water erasable pen is my enemy! The Clover pen is a nightmare to use, as I have to press fairly hard and then risk moving the fabric to draw the seam lines and I have to go over it several times, which takes up alot of time when there's that many seams to do. I've used a fine HB pencil instead. Thankfully the lovely lady for who's baby this is for, is very patient and knows it's a learning process for me, so isn't pushing me to get it finished pronto.


Had to have a dinner break there. A little computer blip and some more hexies cut and starting to mark the crosspoints, I'm back.

I've also got a handbag, felt house sets, two placemat and coaster sets and some portable coaster sets to make before March 22nd, when I'm doing a craft fair and try to live my life inbetween. Could be interesting. Oh, and a little pillow dress for The Sewing Sanctuary's efforts to help the 'Dress a girl in Africa' campaign.

Another huge thing and I mean huge for me is being on the brink of leasing out premises for a sewing studio. I don't have enough time to go through it all now but it'll start off as being a place for people to use as a larger sewing space than they have at home, with most of the tools available and advice on hand to help them achieve whatever sewing projects they want to complete. That's the very bare bones of the idea.

It's in a gorgeous location within a pretty little town in Cheshire, above a lovely deli run by Nancy, who, unbelievably or not, loves patchwork!

It's a complete blank canvas for me to transform into a cosy, crafty space I and lots of others hopefully, enjoy being in and doing our hobby.

I haven't signed on the dotted line yet, as 'him indoors' has been away for two weeks in Sri Lanka, so I had to discuss it with him. He's supporting my idea and will help me get some legal advice. 

For this reason, I will need a new blog focussed on what is required for the studio. I'll still be little old me but I don't think 'Diane's mutterings' is quite the feel I want to be taken seriously. I'm also struggling to get people to comment on here, other than dear Dawn and Karen, so I need to try a different avenue and engage people more with what I say. It's tough though, as there are so many blogs out there but if I link it to the studio, then my intention will be to make it relevant to the customers there. It'll be an 'add-on' to whichever website I get.

I'll let you all know what eventuates, if any. 

I need to be brave and follow my dreams. 

Take care out there and wish me luck! 

p.s "'“Don't be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.” '"― Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥nThe Angel's Game

Where was I?


I intend on making this a very quick post; actually very quick, as 'him indoors' just got back home from taking his son back to uni in Sheffield!! :-( 

I've also just realised that I need to take the dogs out for their second walk, as the weather looks like rain is imminent and I may have to walk the dogs in the rain sometimes but it is far from my favourite activity.

Right, so hold that thought and come back later when I might just get round to doing a proper blog post and catch up on what's going on in this 'ere life of mine.

On that note, I'll leave you with this sobering photo, which is a small portion of the result of 'him indoors' going to Sri Lanka for two weeks and returning home late on Friday night:

It's on the landing and likely to stay there for a while, as there's only so much space to dry stuff inside, due to the wet weather and there's still uniforms and basic stuff which has higher priority.

That pile prompted me to find this on t'internet and pin it. Me? Saddo? Surely not, just looking for practical solutions but at almost £100, it'll probably have to stay as an idea.

Practical stuff on my Pinterest page

Come back later, the next post couldn't possibly be more boring than this one :-) But hey, busy lives do go on outside of Blogger.

Take care out there doing your washing :-)
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