Friday, 27 December 2013

A Perfect Gift

Getting the perfect gift can be a tough challenge at the best of times,  but when the recipient is one of those people who buy what they want themselves, then it can be even tougher than usual.  Such a person is my brother!  He is a guy with a number of interests (some of which I don't have a clue about!) but if he wants a computer game, a movie or a graphic novel he will buy it himself.  There's no point in giving him tech because he already has it, and items for his yet to be decorated house just don't cut it.
Usually the place to visit is his amazon wish list, but this year I had a clue. I happened to mention recently that everyone in my family who wants a quilt already has one when he pulled me up short with "not everyone! ". So the challenge was set! 
My fabulous friend Pam gave me a wonderful bundle of fabric samples from a posh Italian shirt manufacturer a couple of years ago, and they have been waiting patiently in my stash for the perfect project. Now they seemed to fit the bill. My brother works in the city, so what could be better than a pin striped quilt! This fabric is very light and quite slippery so sewing it was sometimes like trying to staple cheese to a wall, but with some patience and a now empty can of spray starch I got there in the end!
Here's a picture taken in my kitchen because it was raining outside, so the light is a bit wonky - but you get the gist!
I spent ages trying to line up the pieced backing but it just wouldn't play ball... so eventually, in frustration, I just thought "sod it" and got on with the quilting. Imagine my surprise when I turned the finished quilt over and found that it lined up perfectly! I bet I couldn't do that again!!!! 
So here it is - 2 years in the making and now it is all wrapped up and ready to go! So next time I say that everyone in the family who wants a quilt already has one I expect to be greeted with appreciative silence! 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A festive bake... sort of!

I am not known for my baking, so you shouldn't be surprised that I didn't bake this little number.  But I am responsible for the decoration! I signed up for a 5 week class at a local shop in Yaxley called Cambridgeshire Sugar Supplies to decorate a Christmas cake. It was great fun, and I learnt a lot. As a complete newbie to this craft I was delighted that I was able to hire all the tools I needed and I could even buy the cake (which members of my family are eternally grateful for!). It was a definite selling point when I signed up as this was intended to be a one-off and so I didn't want to end up with lots of tools I might never use again.
And so after invest 2 hours every Monday evening for 5 weeks - ta-da!
I have to say that I am delighted with the result, and my Dad is really looking forward to tucking into it all on Boxing Day when the whole family gets together! 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

I love a happy cat...

This is a rare cat post the doesn't include a pic of one of my terrible trio. But they were the inspiration  for this little wall hanging for Create and craft and the 'fat cat' ruler.
This is so much fun to make and has so many possibilities - as well being super cute which always raise a smile!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Its amazing what a little bling can do!

You can never have too many sequins at Christmas,  and here's my newest decoration that I ran up during a rare moment of peace this week! I must admit that I love it and now have to make a few more!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Playing with circles

I love teaching. There is something so rewarding taking a idea, developing it into a design and then passing it on to others and seeing them run with it.
That is exactly what happened with my Zen Quilt. I needed to create a design that made good use of circles as I was supposed to demonstrating one of Simplicity's circle acrylics. I had also just bought a fat quarter bundle of Moda Christmas fabric that had a bit of a Japanese vibe about them, and so taking inspiration from those calming Zen Gardens, I came up with this!

A zen garden is a miniature representation of a landscape and nature which is an aid to meditation. The boulders represent mountains, and the ripples in the gravel present water flowing through the landscape. My circles represent the boulders and the quilting is the raked patterns in the gravel. I am very pleased with the results and they great on camera. It caused such a stir that I put it on in the shop as a workshop. And these ladies kept busy!

The different colours and fabrics created different moods and they are all looking fantastic! It proved so popular that I will be running the class again in 2014. It really is a hard life!!!!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Keeping busy

Being a crafter seems to be synonymous with being busy. Every one I speak to says that there are just not enough hours in the day to do all the things that they want to do. And I am one of the most guilty of that - the ideas that I have far outstrip the hours I have to complete them!
But somewhere I read that the more creativity you use, the more creativity you get so I will just keep on moving forward. 
My newest enterprise is a regular craft column in the Hunts  News and crier that features Bee Crafty. I wrote the first installment and Julie will be writing the second so keep an eye out for the odd crafty hint! What fun!

We are hoping that we will attract new people to crafting, and introduce them to the positive effects that creativity can have on our lives. This first installment is about the sociability of crafting, and how it brings people together.We all know how much fun it is to craft together and I hope that we will be able to spread this message a little further!

Friday, 1 November 2013

I love a good wedding ... ring

One of the great things about working with Create and Craft as a guest presenter is that I am 'forced' to play with products I wouldn't usually have the time or inclination to use. This often pushes me in directions I hadn't contemplated and often towards the more traditional end of the quilting spectrum.  The thing about traditional patterns as far as I am concerned is that the have been 'done' and that traditional meanings boring. I have definitely changed my mind recently, especially since I had to demonstrate a wedding ring template. I just love this traditional pattern and couldn't wait to get to grips with the very useful acrylic that Simplicity produce.
This first one is a table runner that I created to show the Double Wedding ring template using the fantastic Downton Abbey range of fabric from Makower. I loved this and using the right templates meant that it ran up quite quickly. (sorry about the quality of the photos, my design wall or the floor are not really in a great lighting positions!)

All of the shapes are cut from the basic template - with the centre having 4 curves, 4 melons (the little white leaf shapes) and the combination of lozenge shapes that make up the rings. I just love it as a table runner and it shows the fabric off a treat!
This next one is a variation called Pickle Dish and uses little triangles instead of the traditional lozenge shape of the one above. It still uses the rest of the elements used in the above Double Wedding Ring but is a bit more fun. I only did a small sample of this variation as it would be tempting but time consuming to make a full quilt for each acrylic they send me :) it would make a great table mat!

Diamond Jubilee - this is yet another variation on the double wedding ring which uses a diamond shape instead of the leaf shaped melon but still uses the 4 segmented shape.
 I am absolutely dying to use all three variations in a single quilt which I think would look stunning. I just need someone to add a few more days to the week...
What this has shown me is that I shouldn't turn my back on traditional patterns just because I feel that they are old fashioned and have nothing to offer me. Now I have had a go I am looking at the wedding ring in a whole new way! And I might have to take a look at some other traditional patterns with a new modern eye!!!!
 And just as a shameless plug - I will be teaching this at Bee Crafty on Saturday, 15 February 2014!

Monday, 21 October 2013

They always find the best spot!

Everyone who has a cat and quilts knows that the two are inextricably linked! As soon as I tidied away a few finished quilts, Jack found a new home.... and he looks extremely comfortable!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Always happy to help!

Many people will recognise this picture.  You get a pile of sewing done, turn around for 2 seconds, and find someone has moved in!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Shopping Sarah Style

It has been a while since my last confession (post) but I have been a very busy bee lately with lots of things I will share with you another day. Today's post is just a quick one because my feet are absolutely killing me and I can't wait to soak them in the bath.
The reason for the screaming toes is a long awaited trip to Alexander Palace for the Knitting and Stitching show.  After severe train related traumas we eventually made it there about lunchtime but there was still plenty of time to try to do purse related damage.  I had saved my fee from the festive makes magazine and it, along with some birthday money, was burning a hole in my pocket! And believe me I tried! Owning half a fabric shop puts a dampener on buying my usual buttons, ribbons and cloth purchases but I made a valiant effort with a couple of bead kits and two faboo kits from the Wonderful Kathleen Laurel Sage (to give her her full name!). She is such a lovely lady always with a word of encouragement and I can't wait to get started. 
However for now I am going to rest my tired feet and then admire my lovely purchases all over again! 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Will someone find me a few more days in the week....?

Oh my how I love to be busy! But with deadlines looming left, right and centre, I sometimes feel that a couple more days in the week would suit me a treat! I am sure I am not alone in having more projects on the go than I can possibly fit in!
We have been very busy in the shop since the move - with local and national press coverage of the reopening bring many more enthusiasts to our door, and I am working on more and more workshop ideas now that we have more space. My creative juices certainly seem to be flowing!
As well as that, I am now a regular guest presenter on Create & Craft with all the extra work that entails (with samples simply coming out of my ears). It is great fun - and not too nerve wracking as long as I concentrate only on the people in the room... and try to forget about the people watching. As soon as you think how many people might be staring back at you the tummy starts to go a bit wibbly!
Another bit of excitement on Saturday as my complimentary copy of Fabulous Festive Makes by P&Q arrived with my 2 Christmas projects published in it. Jack was very interested indeed!
It was so exciting to be asked to be involved - but it seems like ages since it was completed and sent off. I made a wall hanging - and we were all asked to create a Christmas decoration too - and my Robbie Robin made the cover! Uber-exciting! Here's a couple of snaps so you get the gist :)

Now I am sitting in a hot sewing room finishing yet another Christmas project to be included in the November issue of Patchwork & Quilting. One cannot possibly feel less Christmassy than I do right now but deadlines are deadlines. I can't share pictures of that one yet for obvious reasons but will when I can. There are further projects in the pipeline that need to be completed soon, and I will be happy to share about them too... soon...
And I am technically on holiday until Thursday, so if some one could give me a few extra days a week I would be eternally grateful!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

playing with roses!

I've had a great day today sharing one of my designs with some ladies keen to learn how to do foundation piecing with paper.  The pattern we used was 'a rose by any other name' and from a standing start they ALL  completed at least one block, with Jube making a start on a third! You go girl!
I am truly lucky to be able to share my passion with other people!

Sent from Samsung Galaxy S3

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

What Fun!

Well last week was one of the most amazing of my life! We opened in the new bigger shop premises and the response was both emotional and unexpected. I am so proud of what we have achieved in just 2 years and immensely grateful to the support of friends, family and customers who have made all the hard work so much fun!

We were open as normal on Saturday 3rd August as normal - and then we move EVERYTHING on the Sunday & Monday (which are the days we are usually closed). So on Tuesday morning we opened not quite sure what to expect! What we certainly didn't expect was a queue!

So I thought I would share a few pictures from last Tuesday - which was our first day in the new shop. We were visited by the FABULOUS Stuart Hillard from the Great British Sewing Bee. What didn't come across during the show was that he is a very keen quilter with regular features in magazines including Patchwork & Quilting so he was right at home with us! He was signing copies of the GBSB book as well as enjoying a chat with lots of our lovely ladies! He was thoroughly spoilt!
The lovely Stuart signing books - here with our friend Nicki from Anbo!
This Nicky's little girl who wanted to share her tortoise with Stuart.

It was a tremendously busy day for a Tuesday. At one point there were 80 cars outside the shop, not counting more that were spread out over the rest of the farm. I had one lady say that her daughter lives in the village and had trouble getting out to work that day with the all the traffic running through the village - so it will be a day they remember for a while :)

Here is a picture of a lull!

Friends and family came along to help with the move and special mention has to go to my lovely Dad - who did so much work building the fabric units and putting up about a million hooks and quilt hangers. And he even dressed up for the opening in tux and bow tie (and fitted the microwave in that outfit!). Thanks Dad - I love you xxx

My lovely Paul and his parents came along. Paul (bless'im) worked like a trooper all day Sunday and Monday with the move - and then helped with opening day. What a star!

Some of our ladies enjoying a bit of cake in the workshop area - we raised £160 on the cakes for the Brittle Bone Society.

We also had a fantastic raffle on Tuesday for some stunning prizes including the fabric for a 90inch square quilt! Along with a more alcoholic raffle on Saturday, and the cake, we made a total of £1000 for the Brittle Bones Society.

So after a very long day, Julie and friend Fiona test out the Man Crèche area and it certainly passed!!

Well that was a hugely busy week, and now things should settle down a bit - with some time for me to get back to my creative buzz rather than running around like a made thing organising telephone lines or sourcing mdf! Phew!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Blooming Marvellous

Well summer is well and truly with us... with a vengeance! And though the roses in my garden are starting to wilt, these little quilted beauties are as fresh as the day they were started!

I am thrilled with this design, which is a scrappy quilt foundation pieced on paper - which I will be teaching on 17th August in my shop. I love that I can have an idea, make it, show it, get feedback and then add it to the workshop list! It really is the best job in the world!!!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Further Adventures in Machine Quilting!

I had a brilliant day the other week! Some very patient ladies let me set them free motion quilting exercises all day with great success. As relative newbies to free motion work, they took the plunge and joined my "Shells, Hearts & Feathers - further adventures in free motion quilting" workshop, and what fun we had! I wanted to keep this group small as I don't think I can really devote the time to each person on a class like this when there are more than 5 people! Fortunately the overflow will not be disappointed as I am running it again on 14th September once we have moved to the new shop!

Anyway, back to this class. I set the ladies 5 activities throughout the day, but there was plenty of scope to play and experiment before we tackled a 'bigger bit'. I really wanted to encourage peopled to relax and enjoy it!

Here are some of the results.

Jemma made these samples - and I love the heart. She makes quilted items under the name Yelling Pig :)

 Linda worked in red and the results were great! Just love those feathers!

Lyne had a great time from a nervous start, and finished with a fantastic feather with a stippled border.

 I am really proud at what they produced and I look forward to seeing where their samples get them!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Holidays... what a great idea!

I am not a great one for relaxing - it seems to me that wasted time is lost time... but sometimes you just have to! So I sucumbed to a holiday - but I won't be found lazing on a beach somewhere! No, it's busy busy busy for me!

Last year it was building the pond... this year it is the summerhouse! After it was delivered in about 6 million pieces we made the very sensible decision to let some burly chaps put it all together for us... and this was the view from the house on Saturday.
I kept well out of the way! By lunchtime it looked like this!
This is the part where I come in :)
With the help of my friend Sarah Trude, Paul and I turned it into this by Saturday evening!
That's me christening it with something fizzy - it just has to be done!
Then Paul and I got around to brunch on Sunday morning before giving the whole thing another coat.

Jack is settling in!

And we get to enjoy a little home grown cream tea!

It needs to take a few days to settle but we are beginning the fun part of furnishing it from junk shops and draping every surface I can find with quilts! Oh how exciting - and much better than lazing around on a beach!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Is it possible to be too spoilt?

I am a very lucky girl! Not only do I have a job that I adore with people I can't help but admire, but I also have a Dad and a boyfriend who put up with my demands and run around making my life easier! Can you be too spoilt? Naaah!

Some of you may have seen pictures of my sewing room in various states of distress... here are a few tasters.

My problem is not being disorganised - UFOs are labelled in boxes, alongside boxes with Batiks, or another with Japanese themed fabric, and workshop samples are all clearly labelled. It is simply that there was just not enough room for my growing collection of boxes! So BF and Dad to the rescue - and they installed a 3m long kitchen worktop along one wall of my sewing room. Delight! Now all the boxes slide neatly away under it - and I have extra space on top for my sewing machine and laptop to live when I using the planners table for something else.
Doesn't it look great! All thanks to my ever handy Dad and his screwdriver.

We even found a place for a few of my Dr Who DVDs and audio books...
Turns out I have a few more than I thought!