Sunday, 22 July 2012


in·spi·ra·tion  (nsp-rshn)
a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
b. The condition of being so stimulated.
2. An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
3. Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea, that is inspired.
4. The quality of inspiring or exalting: a painting full of inspiration.
5. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.
6. The act of drawing in, especially the inhalation of air into the lungs.

I've been busy with starting back at work and my Brit Quilt Swap 3 project.  The quilt has hit a bit of a road block at the binding stage.  I managed to get the blocks together and do the quilting with no problem.  I'm really impressed with myself!  Then the binding.  Ouch.  I sewed it on the front fine but just couldn't get my big man hands to hand sew it on the back.  It probably didn't help that I was trying to do it when I was really tired.  I'm now in the process of machining it on, but that is going only marginally better.  

To take a break from that I wanted to share some pictures.  When Brioni and I went to Taba, Egypt in the winter of 2010 we saw some amazing things.  The weather was lovely and the scenery was amazing.

It was all very biblical!  You could look across the sea and see Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.  

I wasn't a quilter then but saw quite a few things that got me thinking about quilt patterns.  There was this lovely lamp that just screams to be an english paper piecing pattern:

This is something I plan to draw up at some point.  Not for me though, hand sewing isn't my friend...  

This next one got me thinking about geese:

This was a mosaic on the wall of one of the bars.  I KNOW I've seen quilts like this on Flickr.

The next one is a tile floor that ran through much of the hotel lobby:

I don't know if this floor was her inspiration, but this sure looks like this block from Brioni:

This last one is another floor mosaic that I really like.

This looks pretty straight forward to reproduce.  It's just a 9 patch really, and I know I can do one of those!  I may do this as a future project.

I think it just shows you that patterns and shapes are everywhere and that you don't need to look to your books or the web for your inspiration.  It's out there everywhere!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

More progress!

It's been a busy week!  I started back at work after over a year off.  It's been a bit strange going back into the workforce after so long.  The process has been made stranger (and also easier) because I'm working at the same place Brioni works, right next to her team.  We're sharing a car and eating lunch together so it's been pretty lovely.  

This means I all of a sudden have less time for sewing.  "Welcome to my world" was Bri's comment!  That doesn't mean I've been slacking though.  Oh no.  Get ready for this...

The blocks have turned out pretty well!  I only had to unpick one seam to help them line up better.  They have been sewn together but I don't want to show a picture of that.  See, this is for my partner in the Brit Quilt Swap 3 and I don't want to give too much away!  I will show you how the quilting is coming though!

I still have a ways to go, but with any luck I'll have it pretty much done this weekend.  That's not all I'm on with!  I'm working on a project for an upcoming issue of Fat Quarterly and I helped Tacha with the cover for Issue 10.  I'm also going to be sewing lackey for a foundation paper pieced quilt (now that I've proven my skills) that Brioni is doing for a super secret project.  She's swamped with things to sew so I'm lending a hand.

I want to post a few pics of what keeps me going.  If you looked at my small blog meet post you've seen a photo of Bri, and a lot of you may have already met her.  We have a lovely little boy who we're indoctrinating in the joys of fabric.

We also have two lovely kitties.  Jimmy is an old man at nearly 12 and Maggie is just 3.  We love them to bits!

One last thing I'd like to say.  The comments I've received from people, especially on Flickr, has been pretty amazing.  It's helped spur me along and I just want to say thanks!

Friday, 6 July 2012


prog·ress  (prgrs, -rs, prgrs)
1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.
2. Development or growth: students who show progress.
3. Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization: a believer in human progress. 
4. A ceremonial journey made by a sovereign through his or her realm.

I've been busy this week.  I'm a bit rushed to get as much done as I can because after working only about 3 months out of the last 18 I'm finally back into full time employment as of Monday.  Waahooooooo!  Sort of.  I'm going to desperately miss the time home with the boy and time in front of the sewing machine, but we need the money. 

 So, on to progress!  This is for my partner in the Brit Quilt Swap 3.  

The first thing I felt I had to do was complete one curve of each colour way.  I needed to make sure all the colours flowed well and that it looks like a proper rainbow.  I think it works really well!  To save getting up so often and increase efficiency I started sewing two curves at the same time.  This way I only had to get up to iron after two seams instead of every one.

I got my speed down to about 45 minutes for each curve.

With all of them done I was finally able to see how the quilt will take shape.  The finished size will be 24" square.

Cool!  I really love it!  It's going to be pretty hard to part with it, but I'm sure my partner will give it a good home.

Now, a lot of people thought I was very brave for attempting curved flying geese for just my second progress.  I have to say that the sewing so far was pretty easy and straight forward.  The reeeeeealy scary part was coming up next...  curved piecing!  Yikes.

I tried looking at tutorials online but I found them ugly, confusing and using too many pins.  Brioni was at work so with no instruction, some heavy metal,  and my newbie fearlessness I just gave it a go!

It took me some time.  I set the machine to go really slow and pieced the corners to the inside of each curve first.  I started at one end and just worked my way around.  I then attached the two middle pieces to one curve.  This was a bit more problematic.  I had to start in the middle and do a little at a time.  I left the paper attached to the curve to give it some rigidity and I think it helped.  Finally I lined up the other curve in the middle and worked out form there.  The last step was to take off the papers, which was a HUGE pain, and then press the crap out of the block.  I'm only about 90% happy with it because the edges don't line up and I think it'll cause me some problems when I put all four blocks together.  

I'm also thinking ahead to my next projects!  Brioni really likes this design and we've decided (once she finishes a raft of projects for something secret) to do a king sized quilt with the geese at half size!  I've done a test to see how fiddly it's going to be...

I also have one in the pipeline that is a bit geeky.  Can't say much about that one at the moment though!

So that's my progress!  I've use two definitions of the word as my project is moving on and my skills are growing.  

I've done a bio as part of a small blog meet at Lily's Quilts that you can see here, and a blog button for the Brit Quilts Swap 3 that you can get here if you're in the swap.

Until next time!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Brit Quilts Swap 3

Hello all!  I've talked to some relevant parties and have decided to make a blog button for the Brit Quilts Swap 3.  I got the image from Lynne (I don't know where she got it) and just added a "3" to it.  Clicking on the button will take people to the Flickr group for the swap.  

Share and enjoy!

Brit Quilts Swap 3

If you want to use the button code generator go here.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Small Blog Meet

Lynne over at Lily's Quilts is hosting a Small Blog Meet!  Since my blog certainly fits in that category (under 50 followers) I thought I'd sign up.  

This is probably a good chance to tell a bit about myself.  I'm in my 40's, married to Brioni (Flossyblossy) and we have a lovely little boy who'll be 3 soon.  I'm an ex-American and have lived in the UK for just over 10 years now.  Bri and I met online when I still lived in Chicago and she's given me the happiest 10 years of my life.  

One of our first "in person" dates in Chicago!

I love to travel!  I've been to 12 different countries since moving to the UK.  I'm also a science fiction geek and read nothing else.  I'm into motorsports and Lotus cars.  Musically I dig rock, metal, punk... anything with guitars pretty much.  I do have a small soft spot for pop and folk too though.  My iPod playlists are pretty eclectic!  

Some of the places I've been!

I am a new quilter.  Living with Bri it's been very hard not to get sucked into her world of quilts and fabric.  I'm a creative person and have a Bachelors of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I started out on my path to quilting by designing patterns on CAD programs at work in my spare time.  It was seeing the fun everyone had at the Fat Quarterly Retreat that spurred me on to try sewing myself.  

That's my mini-bio!  Now I'm off to check out the other Small Blogs.  See you soon!

Sunday, 1 July 2012


swap  (swp)
v. swappedswap·pingswaps
To trade one thing for another.
To exchange (one thing) for another.
1. An exchange of one thing for another.
2. A contract in which two parties agree to exchange periodic interest payments, especially when one payment is at a fixed rate and the other varies according to the performance of a reference rate, such as the prime rate.

I'll be talking about swaps in a moment.  First though, my 9 patch is done!  Well, the top is done at least.  

I did it in record time because I was enjoying it so much.  I learned some other valuable lessons too.  The big one is press it well!  Brioni laughed when she saw how badly I pressed it and then and did a proper job for me.  It looks much better now it lays flat!  I haven't decided how I am going to quilt it yet, but it will have to wait for a bit.  See, I have a shiny new project to work on!

Laura @ Needles, Pins, and Baking Tins was talking about the Brit Quilt Swap 3 over on Twitter.  After a bit of a conversation about it she convinced me not to be scared and sign up for it, so I did!  The swap is for a mini quilt between 12" and 24" square.  It's also a secret swap so you don't know who is sending to you.  The first thing you do is post a mosaic of things you like to give your prospective partner an idea of what to make for you.  You can see mine on an earlier post.  Then you wait anxiously to find out who your partner is and you stalk them!  I don't mean that literally of course.  You look at their mosaic and their Flickr page and their blog and finally come up with an idea.  Fortunately for me I had a pattern I drew ages ago when I had access to a CAD program and was working through some ideas with Brioni.  My pattern is called Insane Geese Posse.

I posted this to Flickr and got some good comments.  Most thought I was crazy to do something so complicated for only my second project, but told me to go for it anyway!  After consulting with my in-house guru and raiding her stash I had a plan.  The way to do the flying geese on the curve is a technique called foundation paper piecing.  There are many tutorials out there if you Google it.  

So I drew up my templates, cut my fabric and got on with it!  

I found the process a bit fiddly.  Also having to get up and press each seam wore a bit thin until I set up a mini ironing board next to where I was sewing.  I think it's a fantastic technique.  It's magic!  I now have two of my 8 curves done.

I hope my partner likes it!