Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Well it’s been a pretty typical Bank Holiday weekend weather-wise, we’ve had some lovely sunny spells but this was the view from upstairs on Saturday! The noise in the conservatory of the rain beating down was quite deafening! Today it’s just damp and murky!

I managed quite a few hours in the garden this week, trying to clear the AA garden. On Tuesday when all the news came through about the horrific attack in Manchester my OH was working from home. He likes having 24 hour news on at such times but I find it hard to cope with, by mid morning I needed some fresh air, to clear my head and remind myself that we do live on a beautiful planet. I went into the garden, whilst I was digging a little wren came and sat on the top of the obelisk, just a few feet from me, and sang his little heart out for about five minutes. It was just what I needed, I stood and just listened to his beautiful song until he chose to perch elsewhere.

The early summer flowers are just starting to bloom, we have a rose called Teasing Georgia climbing over the arch, the first flowers have just come out, they are a lovely soft yellow with a gorgeous scent.

Isn’t this iris stunning!! I bought it last year at Thornton Hall gardens, the flowers are seriously big and absolutely gorgeous, a real velvety deep purple. They are about the size of my hand!  I just love it.

I’ve some little blue irises in the AA garden too, once they’ve finished flowering I need to try and move them as they are being swallowed up by the beech hedge and as I’m reorganising the whole area, now is the time to move plants.

The rhododendron by the pond has just come into flower too, this shrub fascinates me as the young blooms are such a different shade to the fully open flower. I’m wondering about planting a few more rhodies along the back fence as a natural weed control, as apparently other plants struggle to grow under them as the dead leaves give off a toxin.

Last year I moved a couple of clematis, they were just young ones in the AA garden. They’ve just come into flower and the blooms are those lovely big ones. When nextdoor finally get the dividing fence up I’m planning to plant lots of clematis.

The pond area is still my favourite part of the garden at the moment, the plants just seem to be working really well together. I noticed the other morning that when approached from the back gate the colours are amazing, there’s the different variegated hostas which are looking huge and luscious, the creamy variegation of the tall spiky iris leaves, together with the bright yellow of the flag iris flowers…Sometimes in the garden it all comes together 🙂

 

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Coney Lane

I’ve been working on my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt this week and I’m making good progress!

My main task is to applique all the leaves on my flowers. Sarah (the designer) has 52 leaves on hers!! I think I must have spaced mine a bit more as I’ve got 38. I might add a few extra afterwards.

It took me a couple of evenings to cut out all the leaves and finger-press the edges under. I love Sarah Fielkes suggestion of using an acid-free silver gel pen to draw round the leaf shape. It shows up whether the fabric is dark or light, it won’t damage the fabric and it washes out afterwards! It gives a very easy stitching line to follow.

My first plan was to just use two or three darker fabrics for the leaves, however I cut a couple of lighter, softer greens to try and I liked the effect. In the end I used about ten different green fabrics, so about four from each one.

I have found it difficult to gauge how much smaller they would look once stitched. It looked pretty full when I was arranging them all but now I’ve started stitching them they look so much smaller! Maybe I’ll add a few more at the end.

This is my first real try at needle-turn applique and I can see the improvement already. I’ve stitched about a dozen on so far and the last few I suddenly cracked it, just how small an area you turn under at anyone time and how to use your needle and thumb nail to turn it. This was one of the reasons for doing this quilt-a-long, to learn how to applique properly, so I’m well chuffed so far!

In between stitching the leaves I’ve also started the next border. I love this border, it’s a row of cottages, I’m calling mine Coney Lane after the old word for rabbits. There are forty cottages altogether, ten different designs down each side, so I’ve to make four of each cottage. I spent quite a while ‘auditioning’ fabrics for Coney Lane. To start with I picked out different shades of purples for the cottage with greens, greys and browns for the roofs. It looked a bit too much and having looked at all the photos on the facebook page I decided I liked the continuity of having the roofs in the same colour. I chose a soft blue/green plainish cotton. I’ve still one more border to put round the centre and I still haven’t decided what to use for that, but obviously it will affect the cottages. I think it will be one of the darker fabrics in either purple or green, so I changed a few of the cottage fabrics so they are more lighter shades and a few greens as well. I had two choices for the background, this one is actually the one I originally bought for the border, then I got cold feet thinking it looked like fish bones!!! I debated on one I’ve got in similar colours but more floral, however I decided to stick with my original choice, they are trees on a misty hillside!

I made my first cottages last night. The roofs are paper pieced and the cottage is stitched in strips. The windows are tiny, 1″ square, my time with the tiny pieces of the Splendid Sampler quilt came in useful here, I drowned everything in Best Press! I love these little cottages, looking forward to making the other thirty-six!

I’m linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday and Confessions of a fabric Addict for ‘Can I have a Whoop Whoop‘ why not follow the links and see what every one else has been stitching.

 

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Magnolia Summer Dress

I do like pretty summer dresses, I know I need trousers and tops, but I just couldn’t resist making this one first.

I bought Vogue pattern 8997 pretty much as soon as I saw it, I love it’s simple, elegant design. My original plan was to make this in my red rose fabric, but I didn’t have anywhere near enough fabric, it’s a very fabric hungry pattern. I went into B&M Fabrics store in Leeds for some thread and fell for this magnolia print, it’s a quilt weight cotton, I just thought it was so pretty and at £6 a metre I could afford to get the 4.5m the pattern envelope called for.

What I didn’t realise is how much extra you would need with a one-way pattern. The eight skirt pieces are about 27″ wide and they should be cut with the grainline right down the centre, so they all had to be cut out individually on full width fabric. I was well over a metre short! I fiddled and fiddled, I tried to work out just how noticeable the pattern was, I even tried it sideways. I was tempted to do the front pieces one way and the back another…after about an hour of fiddling I decided to try laying it out again to see exactly how much short I was. I realised that by laying the pieces very slightly off grain, maybe just by an inch, I could place the pieces a lot closer together. I managed to cut it out with an inch to spare!!!

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Otley Show

A quick update on Otley show…

The weather was much better than forecast, it did rain, but not until mid afternoon, and I didn’t hear any thunder or see any hail!

It was a beautiful sunny morning when I took my entries down.

I went back in the afternoon to see how I’d done. I’d only entered four items this year. This is a huge drop for me as for the last two years I was trying to win the handicraft cup which is awarded to the person with the most points. I entered an average of twelve items each year, two per possible class, it worked!!

This year I didn’t want to win it, I was just entering for the fun.

I won first prize for my Crafty Creek Farm quilt in the variety class…

Anderson’s Farm

I won second prize for my Great Getaway bag…

and I won third prize for my padded coat-hangar.

I didn’t win anything for my Splendid Sampler quilt as I realised when I took it down there were a few threads needed trimming (you know I’m not very good at spotting them, there’s one on every photo!!!) and of course I didn’t have any scissors on me. I tried sticking the entry label on one lot, but unfortunately the judge spotted them too!

It was a close run thing as I worked out I was only one point behind the cup winner, she won three prizes too but they were worth one point more! I was glad I didn’t win it this year as I think if the same people win the prizes every time in these local shows, it puts a lot of people off entering. I’m hoping next year there might be a quilt class, as there were three quilts in the variety class. To my surprise there were only four entries in the cross-stitch, there’s usually lots in that class. We’ll see what happens next year…

 

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Me Made May 17

We’re three weeks into #MMMay17, I’ve pledged to wear something I’ve made every day. The problem I’ve had isn’t finding something to wear, it’s finding someone to take a photograph! So some of the photos are from when I made it, but I did wear it, honest!!

This sleeveless top from a couple of years ago works well with my navy straight skirt.

This was the second Gabriola skirt I made, I’m still not sure about the colours in the tie-dye, but I wear it quite a lot as an everyday skirt.

Another tie-dye, this time it’s a lovely soft cotton which makes the top really nice to wear. The skirt this time was my navy Fumeterre skirt, I still really like this pattern. I wore my sewing Archer’s shirt to Otley show.

Saturday night we had a dinner with a Great Gatsby / flappers theme, my attempt to make a flappers dress failed miserably (read about it here) so I ended up wearing a beaded dress I’d bought a couple of years ago. In my sewing drawers I found this…

…and the more I look at it, the more I’m convinced it’s the genuine article, as in a 1920’s headdress. It’s beautiful, all beads, sequins and velvet. We have a lady at Embroiderers Guild who is a bit of an expert on costume and textiles, so I’m thinking of taking it to show her. I needed some way of attaching it to my head and I decided Kate Chiconi’s suggestion of a short length of elastic was probably the safest, in that I could see if I was constantly adjusting hair grips, I would damage the ends. I was still concerned about the pressure put on by stitching elastic on, I remembered seeing some black powermesh, left over from when I made a bra. I gently tacked it onto the back and then stitched the elastic to the powerflex. It seemed to work as it was all in one piece when I got home.

Which is more than could be said for my feathers, I hadn’t even reached the venue when I realised they had flown off somewhere! I did have to laugh as a lot of ladies wore black feather boas and the floor looked like a few birds had come to sticky ends as there were feathers everywhere!

To complete the outfit I wore my midnight blue velvet cape. I made this nearly 30 years ago and I still remember the traumas I had trying to stitch a satin lining onto velvet!!! It’s locally known as my Scottish Widows cape after the lady in an advert many years ago.

Just over a week to go at #MMMay17, I’ll try and get a few more photos for next week 🙂

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Monday’s Meander Round the Garden

Well I got what I wished for last week, some nice, gentle rain. It’s made a big difference in the garden, the weeds have shot up (well they would, wouldn’t they!) but more importantly, the soil is a lot more manageable, I can actually get my fork in fairly easily! I managed to do a fair bit in the garden over the weekend.

I’m still clearing the AA garden, at times it feels like one step forward and two steps back, as no sooner do I clear the perenial weeds as much as I can, the annuals move in!! At least they are a bit easier to sort out. There are times when I walk up the garden and I see the AA garden from a lower level, I wish I didn’t have to redesign it…

…then I get up close! There are four raised beds waiting to be cleared here…mmm I can’t see the paths either, and it’s only May! Continue reading

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Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

I’ve just finished month two of the Down the Rabbit Hole BOM by Sarah Fielke, so to catch up I’ve two months work to do in two weeks! I’m making good progress though and I’m pleased how it is coming together. This was where I was at the end of month one (about two weeks ago!)…

There’s an awful lot of hand sewing to do at the moment as this part of the quilt is all applique. Fortunately it’s still at the portable stage, so I’ve been sewing on train journeys, hospital waiting rooms, break time at work…

The circles have come out pretty well for a first attempt, there’s a few flat bits and corners, but nothing I can’t live with. I do these Block of the Months to learn and improve, and hopefully that’s what will happen. Sarah is a great teacher, we get written instructions and a video demonstration and if we’re still stuck we can always put a post on her facebook page!

Around the centre circle is some homemade bias binding, I’m getting the hang of making it now. I love the hera marker for making the creases. We’ve to cut away the backing behind the flowers and the centre wheel. I made sure when I was stitching the inner circle of bias that I went through all the thicknesses, so I’ve two rows of stitching before I cut it, hopefully it will help to keep it stable.

Month three is all the leaves, about fifty of them!!! This time it’s proper needle-turn applique, I suppose by the time I get to number fifty I’ll hopefully have got the hang of it!

Month four is a gorgeous paper pieced border made up of rows of houses, I’m tempted to do some of these along side the leaves, just to give me a bit of a break from all the hand-sewing.

Anyway, before I get carried away thinking about the next two months installments, here’s my quilt at the end of month two. I love how the colour scheme is working out so far, it’s sort of gentle 🙂

I’m linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, why not follow the link and see what everyone else has been stitching.

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Otley Show

The weather forecast for today is sunny spells, scattered showers with risk of hail and thunderstorms…so it must be Otley Show day, it’s a standing joke here that it always rains on show day! It’s the first in the show calendar around here and it’s also the oldest one day show in the country, it’s the 208th show today!

There’s quite a big handicraft tent with lots of competitions which I’ve entered pretty regularly for the last twenty years. Two years ago I was determined to win the cup for most points in the handicraft section, something that had always eluded me. I entered every class I thought I could rustle up an entry in (which really means everything except knitting!) and with a change of tactics I entered more than one item in each class. It worked, I won the cup. Last year I decided to try and defend it, again I entered two items per class and again I brought the cup home.

This year I’m going back to my usual number of entries, just what I happen to make over the year, the only entry I’ve made specially for the show is a padded coat-hangar. So if I win it this time, no one else is trying!!

I’ve entered my Great Getaway bag I made in January.

In the variety class I’ve entered my Splendid Sampler quilt...

…and my Anderson Farm quilt.

Anderson’s Farm

Last month I embroidered a lavender sachet from a pattern by Faby Reilly, it’s really pretty. I decided to make a padded coat-hanger to go with it. Of course I left it until last night to start!

I’ve made padded coat-hangars since I was an impoverished student nurse in London, they made pretty but inexpensive Christmas presents! Over the years I’ve made them using several different methods, but I think I’ve finally found a neat way of making them.

I cover the hangar with polyester wadding, the thicker the better. The hook is covered with a rouleau loop, I’ve got a rouleau loop turner now and it does make life easier.

I make a tiny hole in the middle of the fabric and ease the hook through it. I can then slip stitch the fabric over the wadding with a smooth, neat seam underneath. I chose a quilting cotton for this one which has silver swirls on, it seemed to pick out the twinkle of the beads.

To neaten off the ends I turn them under and then gather them tightly. The little hole that is left can then be covered up with a pretty button.

I often just tie a ribbon around the hook but to link the sachet with the coat-hangar I decided to stitch some of the beads around the base and then added two of the flower beads. I can neatly tuck the sachet beads under the flowers to finish it off.

So that’s my entries this year, it was certainly a lot less stressful this year 🙂

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Finishing Touches

As I’ve mentioned once or twice, I’ve been decorating our house recently and I’ve tried, as I’ve done each room, to finish all the little touches that have been on my to-do list for ages. One of these was to recover the conservatory chairs.

I was given these chairs about fourteen years ago, they’re too comfortable to change but they were in need of a make-over. This is about the third or fourth time I’ve recovered them, I used the old cushions as the pattern, laying it on and cutting round.

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Isn’t the fabric gorgeous! We have a very nice curtain shop in Otley, they have fabulous window displays and sell beautiful fabrics, but they are well out of my price range. However I have found their sales are very good. They sell remnants, roll ends and display lengths very reasonably. This is a 3m length of Voyager fabric which had been in a window display, there isn’t any obvious sun damage and I just love the colours. There was actually about three or four lengths in this range and I could have quite happily bought them all! It usually sells at £30/m, I bought the 3m length for £30. It was an impulse buy and my original plan was to make some curtains for the little windows in my sewing room…only my windows weren’t quite so small as I imagined them!!

Having painted our conservatory a lovely shade of blue, I realised the Voyager fabric went beautifully. I had just enough…and I mean ‘just’, I nearly had to use short lengths to make up the gusset.

I’ve never put zips in these cushions, if I want to wash them it’s quick enough to undo the hand-stitched opening and then slip-stitch closed again afterwards. They went together really easily and fairly quickly.

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I just love the colours in these cushions, I just want to paint the cane now as it is looking somewhat shabby, I’ve bought a tin of soft grey chalk paint but I think I need one of those stiff stubby stencil brushes, if anyone has done this any tips would be  gratefully received!

The conservatory is almost finished now, I think my next job here is to reupholster a footstool. I’ve started putting my pictures back on the wall, which when you’ve got as many as I have, is a major undertaking! I like what I call a ‘gallery wall’. I’ve started a mini arrangement in the conservatory which I’m really pleased with.

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I started doing ‘gallery walls’ when the children were little. I bought a load of picture frames from charity shops and when they proudly brought their artwork home from school, their favourite ones could be framed and go on the wall. I covered the wall going up the stairs with their pictures. It really needs updating now as they are 20 and 22, not so keen on their childhood paintings being on display!

In the hall we have a long straight wall so I’ve hung all my embroideries there. It takes me ages to hang them as I like everything to be lined up with at least one other picture, I plan the layout on the floor and then it’s a tape measure and pencil job!

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The last picture gallery to rehang this month was in the dining room, which I’ve painted a light, soft shade of grey, I love it, it’s such a calm colour. We have all the family photos on display here. I decided to co-ordinate the frames a bit and bought black, white and grey frames. I’ve up-dated some of the photos too. The only frame I haven’t changed yet is our big wedding one. I’m really pleased with the effect.

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Accessorizing for the 1920’s

My outfit is finally coming together! After the disaster last night with the galleon in full sail dress I found my beaded dress. I did have a moment of panic that I might have sent it to the charity shop on the last purge…I was very relieved to see it. I bought this dress for about £20 from a seconds shop in Otley, we were going on our first cruise and I needed some evening wear. It actually weighs a ton due to all the beading, so it probably wasn’t ideal for my luggage weight limit! I only wore it the once and it’s hung in my wardrobe ever since.

…and now is it’s moment to shine!

I needed some accessories; I found some full length beaded gloves which I’ve probably had nearly 30 years!

I found a beaded bracelet and ring (for after the gloves come off!!) Not sure of the etiquette here!…or is this one bead too many!

I needed something for my hair. I went rummaging in my trims drawers and found a short length of black feather boa, just about 12″ I cut it in half, twisted some wire round it to give it some support and also added some wire which I had wrapped round a pencil to make a spiral, it’s a lovely deep purple colour.

I went rummaging a bit further and found this…

It’s beautiful, I know it came from the sewing box of a friends mother, looking at it it could almost be a 1920’s head dress. It’s heavily beaded with long flat beads down one side. It has a large button/ bead at each end with black beads dangling down. It’s gorgeous. It is shaped as if  to go round a head, I’ve just got to work out how to wear it as I haven’t got the ideal hair style for this type of head-dress, it just seems a shame not to wear it having found it! At the moment I’m thinking of folding the wide beads under so it’s just on my forehead, rather than half way up my head which just makes my hair stick out on top!! I need to get some hair grips and have a play before Saturday.

I’ll still have something on for me-made-May as I’ll travel in my velvet cape which I made about thirty years ago. I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

 

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