Sunday, 16 November 2014

Doesn't time fly......

My goodness! It's been a long time since I posted on my blog. My obsession with IG and its ability to comment quickly and easily have meant that I feel like I've been "communicating" with people but via my IG account, not the blog. My apologies, if there's anyone who's missed me......

I'll do a little catch up. LBQB blocks:

This block was a disaster! I couldn't see at all what I was doing wrong with it at the time but of course now I can see what a mess it is! Fortunately, Octobers Queen Bee was very understanding of my uselessness, and when she gets round to finishing the quilt top, she'll look at this block and say "ahhhh, bless Natalie!".
I had better luck this month:

Novembers Queen Bee hasn't received this yet, so I hope this isn't a spoiler! Given last months disaster, I'm pleased with how this has turned out. We could do blues and/or purples but I went all blue as I couldn't find another combo that I liked.

My #littlequiltsswap mini is finished all but the label. I'm very pleased with it but it has tested my skills and patience. I've learned so much from this, my first swap. I've learned I'd like to do another one, and I've learned that I need to have more faith in myself. I've only quilted since the beginning of this year so I can't really expect to be as good as some of these ladies (and gents!) who've been at it for ever. But I REALLY enjoy it, and we all have to start somewhere. I'm not going to make my partner any gifts to send along with the quilt because she is waaaaaaayyyyyyy better at sewing than me, but I'll send her a parcel of goodies none the less. Only a couple of weeks to go and it'll be in the post!

My other big make of recent times is a sew together bag. I know I'm a bit late to this (every man and his dog has made one!) but what a great project. I'll certainly make more. I'm using mine as a sewing bag.

Isn't the fabric cute?

That pretty much brings me up to date!

I'm off to catch up with Instagram......

Love Natalie

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Handmade Fair at Hampton Court

I booked my tickets ages ago for this event and have so been looking forward to the day. And it totally lived up to my expectations.

My friend and I arrived nice and early so that we were there when it opened. The picture above is of Kirsty just be fore she cut the ribbon to open the fair - she was explaining how they had asked for (and had been provided with!) posh porta loos.

The shopping was amazing - everything you could hope to buy and more. I always think traders at these events should have more discounts but the fact I was paying full price for everything didn't put me off! 

We took part in a couple of group events - we made Pom poms for the World Pomination Guinness world record attempt, then attended a talk with Kirsty and Kaffe Fassett, and then a sewing class with Stuart Hillard. 

I was a little bit teary eyed during this session because I so love Kaffe Fassett. After wards I bought his new book and had him sign it for me.

Our last session of the day was joining Stuart Hillard to make fabric brooches and this class was really fun! He seems like such a nice guy, passionate about craft and about teaching and generally really good company.

Looking at comments on Facebook, it seems like they are going to hold another event next year - if you didn't manage to go this time round, I highly recommend it for next time!

Love Natalie

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Block and a Swap

In the Little Blog Quilt Bee, it's Celines turn to be Queen Bee this month, and she asked for a Pineapple Block. I've not made one of these before, and have not tried paper piecing before so this was a real test of my skills! I tried a practice block and just about got the hang of it, so cut out the fabric for the real version and........

Ta da! I'm quite chuffed with it, everything seems to be in the right place. My measuring was even pretty good. Celine has received it now so I'm happy to share it. I've really enjoyed trying something new and think I might have a go at more blocks like this.

This week I've also signed up for a swap. Those of you on Instagram may have seen the sign ups for the Little Quilt Swap, organised by Sarah Fielke.

I'm all set to go! My book has arrived in the post (each mini has to be one of the patterns in Sarah's recent book) and I've got the details of my swap "partner". Now just to select which quilt to make and make some fabric choices - what could be easier? Eeeekkk!! The pressure! I'm really looking forward to getting on with it, and it's wonderful to know that someone out there in the world is going to make something for me! I may not be able to think about this project properly until next week because I'm going to the Handmade Fair on Saturday and I'm just a tiny bit excited. I'm taking part in the Pom-Pom challenge, I'm going to the talk with Kirsty and Kaffe Fassett (I love his work!) and I'm taking a sewing class with Stuart Hillard. I'll try and take lots of photos to share.

I hope your week is equally exciting!

Love Natalie

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A Random Rainbow

I've called this quilt a random rainbow because I went with my sons request for the random placement of the HST's rather than the rainbow version I had preferred. Last weekend I finished the quilting, and my son has been wrapped up in it ever since (even though it's still really warm!).

I used an ikea fabric to back the quilt and, although you can't see it so well in this picture, a navy with white stars fabric for the binding from my stash. I'm not sure that that was the right choice as I don't think the stars are always shown off to their full potential but you live and learn!

I quilted in sections - diagonals across the HST's then stitch in the ditch around the borders. I had wanted to use a stipple effect throughout the green border but I just couldn't make it work. The tension was wrong somewhere and so my threads kept bunching at the back or slightly pulling through the green thread from the front. More practice is obviously needed (on a smaller project maybe!).

When I make my next quilt, I really must make a few notes about the fabric etc because all I can tell you is that I used a Moda charm pack but I can't remember the name (something like Simply Be I think), some leftover solids from a previous project, and blue and green yardage from my stash. It is single bed size.

I've loved working on this quilt, and working out how to put the whole thing together, and my son is certainly pleased with it.

New projects beckon!

Love Natalie

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

King Cole Cardigan

With more than a little help from my Mum, I've finished a cardigan to keep me warm through the winter.

It was a King cole DK pattern and was quite straightforward - until I got involved! I am just over 6' tall so often clothes are too short in the body and arms. So before I started this cardigan, I decided I'd add a bit of extra length to all the pieces - after the Fair Isle, it's just straight stocking stitch, right? So how come I ended up with a back and 2 front pieces all different lengths??? Goodness only knows what I did - I'd swear blind I knitted everything to the adjusted length. Perhaps (as is so often the case with all of my projects!) my measuring was out. Consequently, the collar that was on the pattern was nigh on impossible to do ( and my Mum knows - she put every effort in to make it work) but I am more than happy with a straight collar. I even decided to go without buttons and button holes as I'll never do it up - I can always add buttons on for decorative purposes later.

Remember my catchphrase for 2014? Finished is better than perfect? šŸ˜œ

Love Natalie 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A "Nearly Finish" Quilt!

Readers of my blog on Monday will remember that I mentioned another summer holiday craft project that was "finished".....

 Quilt #3! In truth, I've only finished the top so far but I think that counts, doesn't it? I've now washed the backing fabric and sorted my batting so I'm ready to get on with basting and quilting but I wanted to share this project with you all the same.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out! You may recall that I had wanted to arrange the HST's in a colour rainbow-sequence pattern but the recipient (son #3) preferred a random placement of blocks. I'm not going to say he was right but I'm more than happy with how the random-ness has worked out. I decided to space the extra blocks around the centre piece because the centre on its own wasn't big enough. And then I decided it needed a little more width so went with the loud lime border. Since this photo was taken on Monday I've been asked a thousand times if it's ready yet, so I had better get cracking at the weekend!

I'm going to link this post up with Finish it up Friday over at I spend far too much time on Friday evenings reading the many wonderful blogs over there. If you are reading my blog via this link up, thank you for stopping by!

Love Natalie x

Monday, 25 August 2014

Crafty Catch Up

I hope I'm not the only one who has struggled to keep up with their blog during the hols? An actual holiday, combined with child care juggling has left little time for crafting let alone telling anyone about it. With a week and a bit if the holidays to go, I thought I'd do a catch-up post and then get back into the regular swing.

My catching up started with the fact that I "caught up" with my machine today, having not had time to use it much for weeks. What's a girl to do on a rainy bank holiday? Stay in her PJ's and sew, that's what (I cried through Pollyanna at the start of the day as well). My first couple of projects are photo less I'm afraid but just so you know, I cut down 2 old pairs of pyjama bottoms to make them into shorts. I also had a go at recycling an old t-shirt into a tank top using the tutorial at 
I've photos of the other makes for today - I made a new peg bag based on the storage bucket pattern found at I don't like the hanging peg bags you can make (I've been using a small cube-like bag) so I thought a "bucket" would be good.

I was using up "scraps" so this is made using a couple of the leftover blocks from the quilt I made for my niece at the beginning of the year. To be honest, this photo doesn't do it justice! I lined the bucket with shower curtain just to make it a little weather proof and decided when I got to this stage that I needed a handle so the finished article looks like this:

I used another left over block (it was a practice one from an early Bee month) to make another of these to store my threads in.

I did have one more sewing project completion today but I'm going to save that for a post of its own.

My other summer holiday makes have included homemade strawberry jam and blackberry jam - my sons and I picked the fruit and I made jam for the first time in about 30 years. Let me tell you - it was worth the wait! 
During August, I'm Queen Bee, and I've received  4 blocks so far:

And a really quick make came in the form of a patchwork key ring that came free with Love Quilting and Patchwork Magazine.

Phew! Catch up over

Love Natalie x

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Perfect Day

It exists! I've had it today! I did all the boring things in life yesterday so that today I could indulge myself completely - and I have! Where would we be without a small amount of washing, ironing and cooking but I don't expect miracles.
It began with an early morning cuppa and a couple of chapters of a new book which I had been keeping as a holiday read - too much temptation so I started it today. Then onto the sewing machine which was all set up yesterday, with some projects for completion all laid out last night (I'm too organised!). Sewing punctuated with cups of tea and a sneaky chapter of a good book ( Book of Life by Deborah Harkness if you were wondering) - the Perfect Day.

Now I face a dilemma......I have embarked upon a quilt for number 3 son, made up of HST's using bold vs solid. Good so far. I laid them all out on my bed to try and put them in order and thought an rainbow-ish effect would be good.

 Just to be sure, I then tried a random placement.

I REALLY like 1. Guess which one Henry likes?

So what do I do? Do I sew it up in a way that he likes but that I'm not keen on? Or go with my version because I think it looks better? Don't think I haven't already considered option 3 which is make the one he wants then make another the way I want it.....

Your thoughts would be most welcome!

My other sewing completion of the day is the cutest pair of baby bootees I've ever seen, even if I do say so myself! Actually, I made 2 pairs.

They're made with the beautiful plush fabric I bought at Plush Addict a couple of weeks ago and they're are gorgeous! The pattern is from My cousin has just had her second baby so a pair will be sent off to her as soon as I can stop myself from stroking them.

I'll be joining up with Handmade Monday to see if anyone else has had a great day!

Love Natalie

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Teacher Presents

I spotted a pattern for a little quilted purse at a couple of weeks ago and decided it would be a perfect teachers gift. I had to buy a new gadget for the project (shame!) so when I was at the Plush Addict open day a couple of weeks ago I picked up a snap-fastner.

A girlie gadget!

The pattern is really straightforward, although I did make a practice one first just to be on the safe side, and I'm really pleased with the results. I've sewn the names of the teachers onto the reverse of the purse for the extra personal touch - I did try to use my sewing machine to "write" the names but it wasn't working out very well, so I settled for writing the names on dot and cross paper and sewing over the writing onto the fabric, then gently teasing the paper out.

They are the perfect size to hold a dinner card! Or a little change to buy a cookie on Fridays. (the pattern suggests these are the perfect size to give a gift card which is also a great idea).

It's Sunday so I'm linking up with Handmade Monday.

Love Natalie x

Sunday, 13 July 2014

I'm back!

My sewing mojo is back! I spent a couple of hours with my sewing machine on Wednesday and made great progress with a couple of projects so feel well and truly back up to speed. I've ticked off 2 items on the To Sew list - July's LBQB block and my "test" block for August. Firstly, my test block:

I'm really pleased with the mix of reds that I've used, and am very excited about August, when I'll receive blocks from my fellow Bee-ers.
Now for the block I made for July's Queen Bee:

A wedding ring block. I REALLY enjoyed making this block, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I also happen to love the fabric, a fat quarter that I've had in my stash for just such an occasion, and the background colour was bought especially at Plush Addict last weekend. I think I'm going to make a quilt using blocks like this, I really did enjoy making it.

I'll be joining up with Handmade Monday this weekend if you can join me there for some crafty inspiration.

Love Natalie

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Plush Addict Open Day

I'm lucky enough to live withing driving distance of the Plush Addict warehouse so I went along to one of their occasional open days yesterday. Wow! What a selection! It was wonderful to touch and feel so many of the gorgeous fabrics that I have admired in magazines and on the internet lately  (and flattering to get a round of applause for being the first person there!).

This is a picture of the goodies I bought. There was also some grey jersey that is still in the bag that can just about see in the right of the picture ( it's a lovely storage bag that came free when you spent 'ahem' - a "certain" amount of money).

Keen to get on with some sewing after last weeks lull, I was up at the crack of dawn today and managed to squeeze in a couple of hours of cutting out before I needed to help out with some gardening (I now have blisters on my hands - I should definitely stick to sewing!). I intend to get down to some serious sewing business on Wednesday. The to sew list goes as follows:
- July's block for the Bee
- Augusts block
- Teachers gifts
- Baby bootees (I'm really excited about these, I'm making them with the zebra print and lime green plush fabrics you can see in the photo)
- really cute button snowman Christmas tags that I saw on Pinterest the other day!

Let's see how much I've done by this time next week......

Love Natalie 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Queen Bee Demands!

Thank you for stopping by my blog. This post is all about the block my fellow Little Blog Quilt Bee-ers will be making me during August, but feel free to read on and discover how useless I am at giving instructions!

Where has the time gone? I really can't believe we're already charging through July and I need to post my requirements for my block for August. When we started the Bee I thought I'd like a log cabin block as I had never done one but as the months have gone on, I've been pushed further and further outside of my comfort zone and I've changed my mind - I'd like a Ric Rac block please.

This is a photo of the block featured in this months Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine and though I've been thinking about a chevron quilt for a while, it wasn't until I received the magazine that I realised that this would be a great Bee block.

So, my requirements are these: could I have a 12.5" square block with 2 'red' stripes on white background. I say 'red' as they don't have to be solids, you could use red patterns, and mix and match if you want to. I've bought a selection of reds today that I will be using:

I have 1 slight problem - instructions for making the block. I tried to find a really good tutorial but didn't manage to find one. I'm going to make my block following the magazine instructions (although I won't paper-piece my HST's) but I realise that not everyone gets the mag. Everything depends on whether or not you are using a mixture of reds or just one. You need to end up with 16 3.5" HST's. So by my calculations, that's 4.5" squares of white and red combination - I guess if you're using more than 1 print then each square will make you 2 of the 16 total. Am I making any sense?!!! At least 1 of you will be able to explain this far better than me so feel free to elaborate in the comments. I have literally been losing sleep with the excitement of making these blocks and receiving them all, and now that I have to ask you to make them, I'm hopeless!

I'm really looking forward to getting on with some sewing - starting with Claire's block for July - and have been to the Plush Addict open day today to stock up. I think my sew-ers block is over, so I'm off to get my machine out!

Love Natalie 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sew-ers Block

I've not written a blog post for a couple of weeks because I've not had time to do much crafting. Life just sometimes gets in the way! In between times, I have been reading lots of blogs - it's like having an ever updating magazine at your fingertips.

Yesterday, I dusted off my sewing machine, determined that I was going to Do Some Sewing. And what happened? Nothing. No inspiration. How can I have a Things To Make list as long as my arm, and boards full of inspiring pictures on Pinterest and yet not be able to decide what to make? I thought I'd start with July's Bee Block and decided on the "colour" but realised I didn't have a suitable low volume background to go with it. So I moved on to practise the teacher gifts I wanted to make, and couldn't appliquĆ© a butterfly if my life depended on it. I made a practice gift card wallet that turned out really well, then wondered if I'd ever use such a thing? And then a practice baby bootee which was SO cute, but I realised that I didn't have the right fabric in my stash to make a pair to gift. In a desperate attempt to sew SOMETHING I started sewing together scraps. Why? Who knows. It just seemed like something to do. 

There are more, but I'm sure you get the idea.

One successful project from the last couple of weeks was my Bee block for June. It was quite a simple block (note: it was simple the way I made it, some of my fellow Bee-ers made theirs fantastically tricky and consequently wonderful to look at) but I dithered over it for a while. It feels like a lot of pressure trying to decide what another person might like! Any-hoo this is how it turned out:

If I recall correctly, I'll be Queen Bee for August which is exciting, I had thought I was going to ask for log cabin blocks but I fell in love with a chevron block I saw in a magazine so might change my mind.

I'll be linking up with Handmade Harbour today for a catch up with the other crafty types. Here's hoping next week proves to be more inspiring!

Love Natalie

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Quilt #2

I bought number 2 son a duvet cover for his birthday last year that was made with such slippery fabric, it was impossible to use it on the bed - the duvet literally slipped to the bottom of the cover every night.  During a clear-out a couple of weeks ago I realised I had a couple of IKEA fleece blankets that I no longer useu and thought that they would be the perfect wadding to turn this cover into a quilt.

He is thrilled with it, and it has been dragged around the house ever since (why don't boys realise that if they put more clothes on they'd be warmer?). In truth, this project doesn't showcase my best work. My basting was much improved, and consequently I had only a couple of puckers. 

I decided that the pattern of the emblems on the reverse of the cover meant that straight line quilting would be best way forward. When I say straight line, I mean lines.....

You can just see in this picture  that my lines were a little wonky in places but I was eye-balling rather than following a marked line so what did I expect? Also, my hand binding wasn't as good as it was the first time I did it on a quilt (ie the OTHER time I did it on a quilt!). In some places at the edge of this quilt sandwich, the layers were a bit thin (dodgy cutting of the edges) and so I often caught the right side of the quilt with the thread. But remember - Finished is better than Perfect! And finished it is. I decided that life is too short for me to have gone back and unpicked all the binding to re-stitch it perfectly - I'm not sure my son will notice whilst he is dripping milk down it when he's eating his cereal!

I'll be linking up with Handmade Harbour today, so join me there if you can to catch up with other crafty types.

Love Natalie

Monday, 26 May 2014

Dressmaking #2

What's a girl to do on a rainy bank holiday? Sew of course! I'd promised myself a bit of a day off today - no housework or chasing around after children - so sewing was bound to feature (of all the things on my day off list, this is the only 1 I accomplished!) 

My first sewing job was to make the block for June for the Little Blog Quilt Bee. May's block should have arrived by now so I can show you a picture:

We seem to be having a wonky theme going with the blocks so far! Why is deliberate wonky-ness so difficult? Quite apart from anything else, when you are trying to put the individual pieces together, you naturally try to un-wonky them. I do anyway!

Back to June's block is finished (but can't be revealed yet!) and so is my second attempt at dressmaking. Today I completed a simple skirt, using the pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee book. I'm thrilled with it! If we get any decent weather in the summer, it'll be perfect.

Please excuse the knobbly knees!

I love this patterned fabric. My husband wasn't too keen when I bought it but he said it is better now made into a garment.

What to make next? I feel like I'm on a roll. I've bought a pattern for a jersey cardigan that I might have a go at next but we'll see.

I hope you've had a productive bank holiday despite the weather!

Love Natalie x

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Dressmaking #1

Like millions of people up and down the country, I was glued to The Great British Sewing Bee and I was lucky enough to get the book that accompanied the series for Mothers Day. So, having not made an item of clothing since GCSEs textiles (some 25 years ago!), I've made myself a T Shirt! And very good it is too.

I was aiming for this T Shirt from the book:

And this is how it turned out:

Not bad, eh? Many lessons were learned along the way. I actually made 2 toiles before I got the length and neck right but it was worth the effort. I would point out that this pattern has come under fire in the reviews of the book on the internet - it does have a very wide neck so if you don't make a toile you might be disappointed. But ever the diligent student, I did exactly as my TV tutors told me and practiced first! I had practiced making and using bias binding before I did it "for real" and I was very pleased with myself. However, I had practiced with cotton and the actual T Shirt is made with Jersey so the material didn't act in the same way. Still, though there is room for improvement here, I'm happy with how it turned out.

I read a great post at where Florence talked about "Bless My Heart" garments that she has made but not worn and I did ask myself if I would be brave enough to wear a homemade item out. The answer to the question is yes, I will wear it out and I have! Not that I told anyone - I happened to have it on during the school run a couple of days ago.

I'm so please with my efforts that I'm halfway through a skirt now so watch this space!

I'll be linking up with Handmade Harbour today, so join in the fun there if you can.

Love Natalie

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Cake Club and Clam Shells

This week started with the clandestine Cake Club. The theme was Easter so there was an array of chocolate based cakes, Easter chicks and even a bunny!

This was the cake made by my sister-in-law - it was covered in coconut to give a fluffy appearance. I went with a carrot cake - Easter bunnies eat carrots, don't they? I'm so glad I joined this club, it's a fun evening of eating cake and drinking tea whilst chatting to friends old and new.

For the record, this particular cake was made by the 11 year old daughter of a friend and was delecious!

On the sewing front, I finished the Clam Shell cushion that I've been making following the instructions in Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine.

Rather than make my own cushion cover, I used a cushion that I bought in a supermarket. How could I not? The cushion, with pad, was just £3! I couldn't have bought a new cushion pad for that. And it saved me from making my own cushion cover. This sewing on this cushion is almost a plotted history of my technical improvements. The clam shells at the top are sewn on neatly and are more than acceptable. However, those  from about half way down are......very nearly perfect! I learned so much from watching videos about sewing the binding to quilts, and it has really rubbed off onto all of my sewing projects. One thing I have learned since finishing this project (which is a shame because it is a tip I could really have benefited from) is how to iron fabric shapes around templates, using spray starch  to fix the curves. This was again learned via a video tutorial and I stumbled across it by accident. If you would like to seek it out, it was How To prepare AppliquĆ© on the Fat Quarter Shop channel.

I shall be linking up with Handmade Monday - if you've not yet visited, join me there to read some really inspiring blogs.

Love Natalie