Saturday 30 April 2011

Nowadays …

So, after reading a whole heap of seriously emotive venting of individual preferences over the last few days, via a gazillion comments on this post and several others I forgot to save the links to … I have decided that it’s time for a change here on my blog …

…  a new mission statement, if you will:  

I’m going to keep all of the people happy all of the time

Now, let me see if I’ve got this right ... 

future posts would feature NONE of the following:

wonky seams
perfect seams
wonky blocks
writing without pictures
pictures without writing
talking about my offline life - glass overbrimming
talking about my offline life - glass half full
talking about my offline life - glass grubby, empty and overturned
Gee’s Bend inspiration
pics of what I’m wearing
pics of what I’d like to be wearing
trending fabrics/designers/patterns
fabric porn pics of designer fabrics
interviews with fabric designers
reporting on quilt shows we can’t go to
unquilted/hand quilted/machine quilted quilt tops
machine/hand sewn binding
scrappy quilting
talk of FMQ
pics of Sunday stashes
links to etsy or folksy shops
swaps [in case anyone gets something they don’t like]
bees [see above]
and … comments

Doesn’t take long, does it? 
To end up with absolutely nothing.  

So, let’s just look at this modern/contemporary/classic/traditional labelling & dumbing down kerfuffle from another angle.

It’s all down to semantics … and I know about semantics … it’s my special subject. I wrote an entire dissertation about linguistic & conceptual changes during the French Revolution.

Trust me.  I’m a linguist

Think about this for a couple of seconds, or till you get dizzy …

Just how much has the combination of the internet, advances in technology, digital photography and crazy mad sewing bloggers transformed the world of sewing over the last 5 years?

Quite a lot right? 

As human beings we have a need to categorise things in order to be able to describe them.  When, despite vigorous attempts, something square and peg-like doesn’t fit in to one of our round hole-y concepts, we eventually invent a new word for the new concept.

Trouble is, categorisation is a painfully subjective business.  It’s one of the reasons why English is such a vocabulary-rich language!  It’s like butterfly from chrysallis - starts out pretty ugly, ends up it's own discrete beautiful thing.

I’m with what Crazy Old Ladies says here and Katy @ I’m a Ginger Monkey says here

And if I must be categorised, I’m taking my lead from Katy.  

I’m a ‘Nowadays’ Quilter  

…  and, as far as mission statements go: 

I can only ever hope to please some of the people
some of the time …


So, I will stitch, photograph, paint and write whatever takes my fancy, while retaining a healthy respect for all the other buggers bloggers (and their fancies) out there. 

I think we’ll have a giveaway to celebrate (just to annoy people)  
… tune in on Monday … LOL

Friday 29 April 2011

Royal Flush - the cartwheeling verger!

I'd been entirely blah about the whole wedding until today when I found myself weeping as I watched! Truly the sign of middle age hormonal devastation when the cynic cries.

This is my highlight though … 

Thursday 28 April 2011

It’s All About the Cushions

I’m enjoying a little break from quilting angst and indecision …

I have two lovely new Brighton cushions to make.


They are going to be 22” x 22” versions of the skinny Rainy Saturday in Brighton giveaway cushion I made back in October last year - my first ever giveaway! - which Emma from It’s all about the fabric won.

Yay!  These will be going to her too …

Brunswick Terrace, cushion covers ... main piecing

…  So far, so good … Coming on a treat  ...

(plenty of time to muck up though! LOL)

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Berlin Alexanderplatz - the cushion!

Blogger's Pillow Party

I've been wanting to do something for the Blogger's Pillow Party over at StitchedinColor for a couple of months now, but have been totally uninspired.

But then this weekend the muse visited and I just couldn't resist sewin up a simple envelope-back cushion using a transfer of my photo of Alexanderplatz station's ceramic tiles:

Berlin Alexanderplatz - Basic Block for cushion

The linen is really heavy, dark and almost hessian like, yet fine fine fine to the touch ...

It also features Kumari Garden and some Kona/Klona solids ... Doesn't the Kumari Garden go brilliantly with my Berlin Flea Market fabric?  Total coincidence - it arrived the morning I left for Berlin!

Berlin Alexanderplatz - finished cushion

And the back uses the same fabric ... it will live on this chair once I've covered the big cushions ...

(I'm not going to moan here about the shredding quality of this old vintage fabric, but oh my ... it shredded like a cabbage for coleslaw ... I had to triple hem the seams!)

Berlin Alexanderplatz cushion - back

Happy.  Very.  Happy.

Monday 25 April 2011

Charley Harper Quiltalong - tick!

So, where had we left off with the old Charley Harper Quiltalong embroidery?


I think I’d just finished doing the little fish and was going on to the prawny thing …



So, this weekend I started at the prawny thing … You know I love the prawny thing.


All defining embroidery done, just a few blotches and some reeds to go …


… all hail the reeds … 


I especially like that I trusted my gut feeling about not using black for the reeds - I love the black in the print, but I think stitching some light reflectiveness in nudges it comfortably from print to textile ... 

I used three strands of a really high gloss satiny grey twisted with three strands of flat olive green.  I think it gives it a nice reedy sheen … I’d been dying to use that satiny thread, but it’s oh so slippy! 


I also added in the dark coral blotches on the old muskie’s head …



Here’s a really low res reminder of the original print:


… et voila! … 


… pressed and neat … quite yum … 

I’m really happy with how it turned out … I didn’t want to overdo it and kill that stark Charley Harper graphic style, but I think I brought in just enough texture with the embroidery.  

I also thoroughly enjoyed the process.  The design, the applique, the pressing, the raw edge machine sewing, the embroidering.  All of it.  

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with it yet, but it was such a great pick-up
put-down project, I may start another and just let them build slowly into a collection of Charley Harper panels … 

… I do really really want to do this one! 


… but have other projects to finish first …

What projects are you itching to get started on, but having to delay for finishing-other-stuff reasons?

Saturday 23 April 2011

Lazy Hazy Afternoon

Taking a brief indoor breather from the first Great British Bank Holiday Weekend of the year - this finds us with the extremely illogical urge to spend the maximum possible time twigging about in the sun (after only getting out of longjohns and slippersox a week ago) and reaching critical dehydration and 3rd degree sunburn point within ... what? ... a couple of hours? ...

Never fear ...   Us Brits, we work through the pain ... We've perfected Back to Work Lobster Red.

So, while the calamine lotion dries to a chalky finish, I just wanted to post this pic from yesterday ...

It's possibly the most beautiful photo I've ever taken-by-mistake!

Looks all clever clogs misty & slow shutterspeedy, when in reality it's just an extreme zoom, facing into the hazy sun, guessing a bit what was in frame (too bright to see screen, grrr ...) and trusting to intelligent auto!

I love how this wretched wrecked burnt out old skeleton of a west pier still dominates our horizon so hauntingly.

I think my new camera and I are finally getting to know each other a little better.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

a little something for me …

Well blog friends, after all the mad activity on swaps recently I realised that I’ve kind of lost my sewing mojo a bit.

Now, don’t get me wrong - I Love Swaps - I love pushing myself to try lots of stuff I haven’t done before, to make something for someone I don’t know, but due to my chillingly extensive stalking, probably ‘know’ better than their neighbours, LOL.

Here’s a little reminder of what I have been doing with my time (not so much for you, more like justification for me).


That’s when I realised that I haven’t actually made anything for me in over six months.  I started the blocks for my quilt of good intentions on New Year’s Eve, but then the swaps got in the way a bit. 

It became my first ever WIP (otherwise known as Work In not-much Progress) - I always used to finish something before I start something else, but alas, no longer!

I have big plans for this … another post …


My Charley Harper embroidery is a slow burn thang, I hope to finish it soon though. It may turn into a cushion, or become part of a bigger project, I’m not sure yet … it probably won’t stay with me though.


Even Lynne’s QAL is going to be a present for my
god-daughter, and that’s not till August, so I’ve mentally back-burner-ed that one too.  I haven’t even started all the lovely blocks she’s done too …

My sewing melancholy is, of course, majorly connected to the fact that I returned to work on Monday …  start of term is always a bit of a mindf^k.

So, what to do? 

I’ll tell you. 

Make something for ME.  That’s what.   
Something I need.
Something I’ll love using every day. 

Being a bit of a statonery nut, I have very specific nerdy needs.  I need to carry my diary and a notebook of some sort with me both at work and play.  However, I also need the notebook to be interchangeable, depending on what I’m doing, where I am, etc. 

Over the years I’ve spent countless hours modding notebooks and diaries to fit my purpose … you can see my previous Moleskine modding here or by clicking the pic …


The trouble is that only works for one year and then I have to start all over again.

No more.

Enter the Upside-Downside Journal cover!

One way round it’s a diary, flip it over - it’s a notebook! Genius!






I spent a ridiculously long time drawing up patterns and working out the logistics of all the pocketed dividers.  I was also determined to use something from my little shopping trip at Frau Tulpe, and a bit of my sacred Ruby Star Rising, so I really didn’t want to waste any of these glorious Echino fabrics and I was far too lazy too make a mock-up first.

I used stiff interfacing on the patterned fabric pieces, plain linen for the lining of each pocket and also used that plastic you get in the bottom of supermarket shopping bags to stiffen each pocket further.  I would have used card, but I want to be able to wash the blighter.

I didn’t put a button/elastic closure on it as I wanted it to be a bit looser than that … and it probably wouldn’t wear very well, given the amount of use it will get!  There’s also no pen holder - I always have a pencil case in my bag and I can easily slip a pen inside should the need arise.  I wanted to keep it simple and adaptable.

I also made it larger than A5 (it’s about 9” x 6”) because I have a couple of drawing notebooks that needed to fit.  It even houses a paperback book perfectly!


There are still some little revisions I want to make … after a day or two at work, I’ve already added bias binding to the central section … This little lovely is going to get some battering …

P1020879_800x568 P1020880_800x571

… but I’m more than happy that I managed to start and finish something, quite frankly …

So, now my mojo is waking from its slumber, maybe I can get on with some new stuff finish some old stuff. 

Just a little work to do for tomorrow first

Monday 18 April 2011

Brit Quilt


I had to do a quick post about this while I’m online … and there’s a new button up there on the right - for Lynne at Lily's Quilts new flickr group for Brit quilters.

I’ve always been surprised at the lack of any real community online presence among us Brits - without ever having the brainwave of actually doing something other than moan about it - so this is such a great great idea.

It’s also really fantastic to see how quickly people are joining.  There are 67 of us already … 

Yay! Lynne, you. is. genius.

So, if you are a Brit Quilter, go right now and join Lynne’s Brit Quilt group -

Let’s see if we can get to that first 100 eh?

Yay! Swap Delights …

You may have noticed (I hope you have!) that I’ve been a little bit offline lately - I went to stay with some friends in Oxford and now I’ve been sucked into the swirling maelstrom of ‘start of term’ …

That, coupled with a really dodgy internet connection, has meant that it’s been almost impossible to get online long enough to post anything!

I treated myself to sweet peas at the station.  my house is singing with their scent.

So, straight to business … this post is all about the yumminess I received in the post:

This fantastic package in the Doll Quilt Swap, from Samantha all the way across the oceans in Bellingham, WA.

It came in a Flintstones Pebbles cereal box - you can just see it in the top left corner - such great colours!  I love getting a little bit of packaging from another country.  It has its own little story to tell.  (Or one for me to completely invent, at any rate.)

goodies - all mine

Tucked in were some pretty scrummy Girl Scout cookies, some little transfers and the most lovely letter …

But really we should be looking at the quilt - the detail is wonderful, although my photos just can’t catch the butterfly quilting - you’ll just have to imagine it.

DQS10 - Butterfly Queen from Sam 2


‘Butterfly Queen’ - That’s me :)


I was so excited  that as soon as I saw there was a letter I decided to stop and savour the whole unwrapping, reading thing - so I went and made myself a lovely cup of coffee, cracked open the Girl Scout biscuits and sat in the sun to read my lovely letter. 


Thank you Samantha! Really. Thank you. 

The quilt has a perfect new home disguising that boring flat top of my scanner, which is right next to my desk.  So, I get to gaze at it while I’m working.  Perfect!

In other swap news - My Make Mine Modern Swap  parcel arrived for TinyHouse!  I was getting really worried as I posted it weeks ago …  but it did all make it … phew!

my swap to tiny house

I made my first ever potholder for this swap - that was good fun - I even used Insulbrite inside so it’s heat proof.  Get me, eh?

As it was my first real applique attempt I was a bit iffy about my sewing, but seeing it photographed safely at its destination I feel much better about the finished items.

So, there’s a little roundup of swappy news … I’ve got lots of other stuff to tell you, just no time to sit and tell it! Maybe tomorrow will be better …

…  now to try uploading with my mobile dongle, perched in the dying sun on the top step of my flat - all to catch one measly bar of signal !

Technology.  Gotta Love it.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Berlin Baumwolle - Frau Tulpe


Okay, so now on to the serious business of fabric shopping in Berlin …

Frau Tulpe, Veteranenstr. 19


Look how tempting that window is … shall we take a peek inside??


There is a really great choice here … another tardis of a shop … Now, with the Euro so absolutely pants for the British pound I wasn’t really expecting anything to be affordable, but in fact it was about £1 less a metre than buying online.  But oh, so much more fun chooosing!


Frau Tulpe don’t only sell fabric and notions, they sell ready made bags and mini pouches and handbag fixings and tons of other such vital stuff.

They also stock a lot of Echino … cue warm glow/hot flush from being able to stroke it all … oh, and you can bet I did … I think the next photo’s out of focus cos my hands were shaking with anticipation of the furtive fondle.


They also had some wonderful nylon Echino, for making roll-up-into-nothing eco shopping bags.  Most excellent.  You can get hold of it in their online store (which is also pretty bloomin wonderful) along with some fantastic Echino bag patterns.


The ladies who work there are young and vital, extremely helpful and speak perfect English.  They also take non-Europified debit cards … uh-oh.

So, I bought this little stack of fillers … super quality …


… and this yummy stack of Echino linen prints along with one of their wonderful plains, in lime.


and then these amazing tiny iron-ons, which I’ve never seen anywhere before, and which may or may not appear in a little giveaway soon :


Oh yes.  I had a very good time. 
A very good time indeed. 

It was a lovely extra treat after having had such a great walk there.  

These are some of the things I passed on the way, from Hackescher Markt to Veteranenstr.

(click on any of the pics to go to my Berlin flickr collection)

P1020467 P1020499 P1020511
P1020494 P1020528 P1020501
P1020482 P1020496 P1020513

Birds nest in Hackescher Hof -  Memorial at Jewish cemetery Grosse Hamburgerstr.  - Apples 
Wonderful fabric in vintage shop - Great graffiti of the TV Tower - Tree in cemetery -
Camelias in Rosenthaler Hof - Fab mosaic on Grosse Hamburgerstr. - Bakery window

The only thing left to do was to sit in the glorious sunshine and enjoy the most fantastic raspberry tart & a triple shot latte at the Forum Cafe on Fehrbelliner Stra├če, 57 …


and take the odd sneaky peek at my purchases, natch ...


… tomorrow we might take in a bit of culture … what do you think?


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