Friday, 16 December 2016

Snowmen Candy Wraps for a 200th Friday Smile

I am getting things together for Christmas and I've managed to put up two Christmas trees, an easy fibre optic one in the living room and a bigger one in the dining room. I've decorated the living room windows with a swag of greenery with some lights and also fastened a wreath of lights to our front door so in the grand scheme of things I am doing OK with my festive plans.
Next week I will enjoy a Christmas dinner with my quilt group so I made all the 20 members one of these little chocolate bars with snowmen wraps instead of a card. They are so easy to make and there are plenty of free printable templates on pinterest if anyone wants to make some. I have made these little characters for many years now and I use scraps of fleece for the hats and scarves, which only need a few stitches to seam the hats, as it doesn't fray. 
If I am in need of more fabric I buy a red felt sack or a Santa suit from a £1 shop to cut up, as it is far cheaper than buying felt from a fabric store.

 I also made the table cloth above right for the Christmas dinner table from a fabric remnant. It doesn't look much crumpled up there but it only needs pressing before I use it.
I can't believe how time has flown since last week when I was in Germany visiting part of my family.
We enjoyed the Christmas markets especially the mediaeval market in the old town where all the stall holders dressed in period costume and they only sold traditional crafts which would have been made for that time.
We couldn't pass this stalwart mediaeval mob through to the stalls, until we had dropped money into their coffers, which I presume and hoped was for charity.
I am popping over to Annie's blog to join in her weekly Friday Smile but this week is a very special day as it is the 200th time she has brought her smiles to us and invited us to share our own smiles too. Annie is such a lovely lovely person and we got to know each other through blog land and we have subsequently met up in real life too. She really is a ray of sunshine, the kindest person who is always willing to help and it makes me smile just to think about her.
Huge Happy Friday Smile 200th Anniversary
 and thank you so much for giving so many of us hundreds of smiles. 
It makes us all realise how lucky we are even when we are feeling down.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Visit to Germany as Advent began.

 Back home after my trip to Germany and what a lovely way to start Advent. 
The mini hats, that I knitted quite some years ago, made another appearance along with the fabric boots which are only a couple of years old.

My daughter started off her decorations with this swag of greenery, lights and bows, up the staircase.
We ventured out on a very cold and frosty Sunday morning (-5C) to visit the local animal park for the children to join in a Christmas event.
First the children chopped fruit and vegetables (with really sharp knives) which would never have been allowed in England with all our "health and safety" attitude. No fingers were cut even though some of the children were only 3 years old. Great experience!
They then ground seeds before mixing into the bowls of veg and fruit.

Burning logs in a brazier warmed us and smelled amazing.

We all visited the animals so the children could feed them the food they had prepared.
I really loved this white alpaca and he looked like he was wearing a bad toupee.
I had so much fun with the German half of my family but he is going to be my 
Friday Smile for Annie.... who reckons that this fellow is a "Trump" lookalike!!!
Join in for a bit of fun or just pop over to see some more of Annie's weekly happy post.
The only one we had to beware of was this fine buck
Back into the barn and time for making some decorations from straw, wire and beads.....

 then we sat around the tree, decorated with the children's rustic baubles and stars, for hot chocolate and carols.
It was a wonderful visit and it only cost 1 euro each! Simple fun for all and what a memory for all the little ones. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Plaited Patchwork Christmas Wreath

I am kicking my heels, suitcase in the hall, excited, all ready to go off, itching to get off for my flight to Germany but have an hour or so to pass so I thought I'd post my latest Christmas make. 
I am not fussy on the colour scheme as I don't like the yellow fabric in there but it's a prototype.
This still needs a bit of adjustment and finishing off but here it is....
I don't know whether to make additions of berries, leaves, buttons, bells or such like but I will have to play about when I get back home next week. Here's the basic wreath in case anyone in blogland would like to make one. no pattern, no exact measurements, as usual, I just "winged" it in my own sweet way. 

You'll have to just judge for yourself and it could be sized up or down by adjusting my approximations.

I cut diagonal strips of fabric 4.5 inches width by about 4 feet long.

I folded in half and sewed down the length and turned the strips inside out.

Then came the mammoth task of stuffing them, but not packed too tightly.

Next I safety pinned thhe three long "sausages" together at one end and plaited them. A helpful hand is useful if you can get someone to hold one end whilst you plait.

Because they are cut on the bias the plait will curve readily into a circle. 

 I then sewed together the ends, tucking in the stuffing, and finishing the wrong side as best I could.

I didn't worry too much as the big bow I made hides any imperfections and after all it is only a decoration not an exam piece of sewing!

Remember, the bow can be at the top or bottom of the wreath.

The wreath can be made entirely from one fabric and any design elements can be added to your own choice.  I am sure someone will be able to make a more complex plait (braid) by making several narrower strips, think  but I think this one is enough for me.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Liberty Tana Lawn Random Patch Quilt

I managed another finish yesterday so I could post it off before I leave for Germany. 
My daughter who was married in September wanted to thank her friend who kindly made her wedding dress and knew that she would love and treasure a traditional patchwork quilt. Mother was volunteered to do the honours and I was happy to make it as it is always a treat from me to sew Liberty Tana Lawn. 
It handles and goes together so well and no matter what designs come out of the basket of cut squares, they all blend beautifully. 
The only selection I made was to not sew two identical squares next to each other and, by chance, it never happened as there are over 40 different patterns in this quilt. It was really relaxing to stitch together and not to have to worry about a complex design.

Can you spot the designs in the darker blue and brighter pink squares in this close up? Look close and you may see teapots, cups and saucers. 
The dark one top second left is "the Strawberry Thief", one of my favourite traditional Liberty patterns.

It was machine quilted very simply with diagonal lines in both directions and will fit a wide single bed size or could lay on top of a double bed as a topper.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Christmas Tree Quilt Finish, Patchwork Christmas Wreath & Friday Smile

When we visited the Lake District last week I took my sewing machine to keep me company in the evenings whilst DH was watching TV in the lodge. I made good headway on a new Liberty Quilt which I will show soon but I need an extra large table to sandwich the layers so it may have to wait until my next group meeting. I also managed to finish the foundation pieced Christmas Tree quilt I started at our group workshop with our guest tutor, Maureen. I made extra blocks and transformed them into a small sofa quilt instead of just a table runner and I am pleased with the result. 
 Each year I "rescue" a Teddy Bear from a charity shop, to spend Christmas with us, and here is this year's little character, called Carnforth because that's the name of the little town where he was rescued. 
He will soon get a new hat and scarf and sit close to the fire over the holidays but for now he is pleased to show off the reverse of my new little quilt.
Carnforth is just on the border with the Lake District and Carnforth Station is where the famous, classic, 1945 David Lean film "Brief Encounter" was filmed. There is a museum and visitor centre there which recreates the period and tells the story of the film.
 I also made another wreath from the extra left over pieces I prepared for my first one, that we made with Maureen. I wanted to gift one to my lovely neighbour who has sadly had two recent bereavements so I thought it would cheer her a little.
I haven't joined in Friday Smile with Annie for a while as I have had so much on that I have hardly been on the computer but I'm popping in this week to share this pic of some of my recent baking.....
There's Fred on my Homepride silcone rolling pin and my spotty pastry.....
How did I do that you might say?
Well the blackcurrant pie was just about to go into the oven when I realised I hadn't sugared the fruit and I didn't relish sour blackcurrants!! It was the last of the pastry, so I carefully whipped off the top and this was the result. It cooked really well nonetheless but I forgot to photograph the "after" pic!

Thanks for popping in to visit even though I don't post so often nowadays and today I'll do my best to get round all the other smiles.
You can too if you visit Annie over at astitchintime, you'll smile too!
I am making a solo trip next week to visit the German wing of my family and to visit the Christmas Markets. I've been stocking the freezer with home cooked meals for DH... including a spotty pie!! He won't mind as blackcurrant is his favourite.

Hope everyone is keeping warm and cosy and weathering the ravages of Winter, I'll be going to deep SNOW in Germany!
Have a great weekend.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Easy Christmas Wreath & Paper Pieced Trees

Last week I attended a workshop at my quilting and patchwork group and we were set a couple of super Christmas projects. It was a lot of fun thanks to Maureen our tutor for the day but (as I talk too much!) I didn't finish my two items until I was home.

First we made a simple but really effective Christmas wreath, (above) from scraps of fabric. They didn't have to be Christmas prints as long as they blended in with the overall colour scheme and mine were all different greens.
Squares measuring 5 inches were sewn in half leaving space to turn inside out. I realised quickly that they did not have to be exact and it wasn't necessary to sew up the side gap when they were stuffed with wadding.

We also started Christmas tree blocks for a hanging panel or table runner and here's Maureen's lovely
 sample, above. They are paper pieced which I had never ever found easy but I was determined to succeed.
I made an unsuccessful start in the class but managed to master the technique at home the next day. 
I was happy with my first one then really enjoyed my second one.
I ended up making four so I have decided to make a few more and turn them into a small Christmas lap quilt. I've found some red tartan for the sashes which will transform the blocks into a worthwhile finished item.

Pop over to my group's blog  (Here) to see photos of the workshop progression

It was such a good day and thanks again to Maureen.
We will be visiting the West Kirby 20th Anniversary this weekend where Maureen will be exhibiting so, if you can, get over there as they are always good shows and this one should be extra special.
Westbourne Road, West Kirby, Wirral, CH484DQ Cheshire
Friday 11th, 12 to 5pm and Sat 12th 10am to 4pm

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Malvern Autumn Quilt Show 2016

by Christine Porter of Bristol

The quilt group that I attend made a mini bus trip to the Malvern Autumn Quilt Show last weekend and, whilst it was a long return journey, it was well worth it to see all the fabulous exhibits on display. There were also many excellent retailers in attendance with quite a few bargains available making us all very happy and our purses much lighter.

The skill and artistry that went into many pf the exhibits was astounding and this triple hanging had already won World Best in an American show.
Stephanie Crawford of South Gloucestershire was inspired to create this by a trip she made to China. 

The three pieces of Lindisfarne are also made by Stephanie.
Quilts modern and traditional and here are several unusual and varied examples by Val Thomas

I loved this Attic Window by Elma Richmond. She found this perfect panel on a trip to America
Birds of the World by Gail Lowther of West Sussex
This random scrap quilt on one of the trade stands was so vibrant. 
Spring's Magic by Val Thomas

Christine Porter of Bristol had so many gems on display

Blooms Birds and Berries was by Jean Coumbe
These patchwork clocks are such a novel idea and look quite simple to make.
Irene Wilcox bought some beautiful silk on her holiday and transformed it into this Goan Beauty.
This huge panel of 1 inch hexagons was so effective and a lovely backdrop to one of the trade stands.
We really enjoyed the visit to Malvern and now look forward to Harrogate at the end of November.