The Loyal Union Sampler Block 5/121

Good afternoon everyone,

What a gorgeous day it is today. We’ve got glorious sunshine, here beside the sea. Will today be our summer, I wonder? Actually, it is too hot for me at 21 degrees C, far too hot, but it didn’t stop me going for a walk along the cliff tops. The cool breeze was lovely.

The main reason I’m writing today is to share block 5 of my Loyal Union Sampler from the book by Jennifer Chiaverini. This one is called Antietam.

IMG_20150803_124241715It has been a while since I made the last block (four months) but I hadn’t forgotten about this sampler. It was always meant to be a long term project to pick up when I felt the need for a challenge. There are 29 pieces of fabric in this one which will finish at 6 inches square. I have added this block to the image of my finished quilt on the right of this page. There’s a long way to go but I’m in no hurry.

Avis x

Celebrating an unbirthday with a bit of nostalgia!

Good afternoon everyone,

I had a little surprise waiting for me when I came home last week. I’d been away for a while so what could be a better welcome than a little package all the way from my friend Claire who lives in France. I know little packages from France always contain nice things! I opened it first.

It was my unbirthday….Wow!

What a lovely surprise to find a pack of ten gorgeous fabrics, all slightly larger than 10 x 10 inches and all coordinating beautifully.

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Plus a little fabric tray which Claire had made herself from charm squares. It now proudly sits on my bedside table :-) I love the fabric inside. These trays are such a clever idea.

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And finally, a vintage design seaside postcard.

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I remember spending ages reading these cheeky postcards outside candy floss kiosks when I was away on holiday at the seaside as a child. There was often a “double entendre” joke which seemed very naughty to me at that young age. Was it just the UK where those postcards were sold? I was never allowed to buy candy floss in case I got it all over my best clothes boohoo, but I did get candy rock with the name of the seaside location running all the way through it. We even went to see how it was made once and that was amazing! My favourite flavour was aniseed. I can taste and smell it now as well as the fish and chips with salt and loads of vinegar served in newspaper. Oh yes, and those triangular shaped bags of chips always collected the copious amounts of vinegar in the bottom and if you waited until you’d eaten all the chips, not to mention the scrumptious batter, you could make a tiny hole in the bottom of the bag and drink all the vinegar from it LOL. Those were the days :-)

Thank you so much for thinking of me Claire. I know you were exchanging secret emails with my daughter about this. She kept your secret safe :-) It really was a lovely surprise and it has rekindled some lovely old memories too.

Well, all that nostalgia sent me off on a tangent didn’t it? Back to the fabric.

After squaring up the fabrics to 10 x 10 inches, I cut them all into quarters so I had forty 5 x 5 inch squares to play with. Aren’t they lovely?

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I’ve teamed them up with white and started to make some saw tooth stars with four patch centres. I plan to make a quilt which I reckon will be lovely for Springtime. So fresh and clean looking. Each block will be 6.5 inches when finished.

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It was such fun to get a lovely surprise. I’d been missing my sewing machine and I couldn’t wait to get back at the pedal :-)

I hope you are getting time to craft this weekend.

Avis x

Foot²Freestyle 2015 Blocks for July

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Good afternoon everyone,

Three posts in two days! I can’t tell you how good it feels to be caught up with the blog posting. Next, I need to do some good housekeeping (which can wait) and much more blog reading.

In the meantime, I can show you my blocks for Miss July in the block swap. Miss July is my lovely friend Annett from Germany and she has confirmed her blocks have arrived safely. She had chosen to receive blocks with fabrics in orange, turquoise, green and white. It’s really strange how much longer I take to decide on blocks I’m making for other people. For myself, I’m so much more decisive. Anyway, in the end, I decided to try some curved seams. I haven’t done those before. Why? Because they create scraps and you all know by now that I don’t like scraps. In the end, I decided that if they didn’t turn out well, I could always keep the blocks for myself and recycle the fabric for something else. I was initially thinking of Drunkard’s Path style blocks but then I saw New York Beauties and just had to try them.

Here’s the first one I made.

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I used the foundation paper pieced method and it worked a treat. I was already hooked on NYBs! I love solids and marbled prints and I wanted to let the NYB pattern do the talking. These blocks take forever to make. This one took more than a day because the technique was almost new to me. I enjoyed the process so much, I made a different one.

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This time adding some of what I had left of a small piece of gorgeous batik fabric that I bought years ago. I love batiks too :-) I probably would never have learned how to sew NYBs if it hadn’t been for this block swap and I know I will be making lots more of these for myself. The next one was a little bit more complicated, not more difficult, just requiring a bit more patience but I was sewing them quicker now.

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There were more bands and more points to match. This was all so exciting but it was at an end for now.

I laid the blocks out, putting them next to each other and rotating them. Then I thought, how silly it would be to give someone only three quarters of a circle. Besides, why did the fun have to stop at three? So I made another one LOL. This one is the spikiest of all!

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The block swapping idea is proving to be a lot of fun. I’m trying new techniques and blocks and if it doesn’t work out, no problem, I’ll keep the blocks for myself. So far, so good. I’m learning lots and that’s a good thing too :-)

If you want to see the blocks that other swappers have sent, visit Kate or Sue. They are posting a gallery of all of the blocks sent so far.

I hope you might want to try something new soon :-)

Avis x

It’s only taken two months!

Good evening,

I’m trying to catch up on some posts that should have been shared with you ages ago. This one could have been published two months back if I’d had some free time. Life gets in the way of blogging sometimes doesn’t it?

Anyway, a dear friend of mine had a birthday in May. She is the type of person who is always so incredibly busy, making and doing and caring for everyone else, that she rarely makes anything for herself. At times I think her brain is wired in a way which means she doesn’t even think about herself. She’s also been having a tidy up of her crafty goodies and passed some of them onto me. Well, it was about time she had a nice present and as it was her birthday as well, she was doubly deserving.

I’d made a storm at sea block for Esther as part of a recent block swap (see previous post) and decided to make a different part of that block as a cushion front for my friend. Here’s what it looks like.

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I know I’m going to make a lot more of these blocks. They are so striking and I love all the spikey bits. It’s amazing how much enjoyment you can get from making one project, especially when it is for a gift. I kept the quilting very simple so as not to compete with the patchwork design, using variegated thread which has quite a bit of lustre, almost metallic.

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You’ve probably guessed there was a lot of starting and stopping of the machine when quilting around each of the shapes. The quilting alone took a whole day to complete but I enjoyed every minute.

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I decided to experiment and didn’t think it would work, but it did. I had planned to line the cover with the same white solid fabric but didn’t want the dark thread ends or the quilting to show on the inside. So I only quilted through the patchwork and the wadding/batting and then lined it. I was concerned the inside of the machine would clog with fluff  but it didn’t so the inside looks as good as the outside I think.

My friend had no idea what I was making for her. In fact, I thought she might have seen the beginnings of the patchwork when she came to play in my sewing room but I got away with it. Phew!

I promise it won’t be so long before I post again.

Avis x

Foot²Freestyle 2015 Blocks for June

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Hello everyone,

I can now update you all on the Foot²Freestyle block swap for June. I know it’s now safe to show these blocks as Esther has acknowledged receipt. Thankfully, our postal services managed to get them safely across the sea from the UK to the Netherlands. Esther chose the colour scheme but the block patterns and colour placement were up to me. That’s the “Freestyle” part of this block swap. Anyway, here are the blocks I made and sent for June.

First up is the jadeite block. I was very concerned about the fabric colours of this one as I wasn’t entirely sure what colour jadeite was. Thankfully, Esther’s photographs helped a lot.

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The grey patches were fussy cut. Did you notice that? I hope so because fussy cutting wastes a lot of fabric or makes a lot of scraps whichever way you want to look at it. I consider it making scraps and I don’t like scraps LOL.

Next up is the mustard storm at sea block. I really enjoyed making this block. There are lots of seams and layers of fabric but it was well worth the effort I think. There are more fussy cut pieces on this block too. Can you spot them?

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Finally, it’s the jadeite and coral block. I decided to have the coral bands across the corners to add a bit of interest, exactly six little daisies in each.  The careful placement of the centre fabric was essential here because of the stripes of daisies. It just wouldn’t have been right to have them off centre.

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Well, that’s the first month over with. It was quite scary for me. I’ve never taken part in a block swap before and wanted to make sure the colours were right and my workmanship was up to standard. I hadn’t appreciated how apprehensive I would be but it was worth it. I hope I met the grade.

If you want to see the blocks from the other swappers, visit Kate or Sue. They are posting a gallery of all of the blocks sent so far.

I hope you are all enjoying crafting today!

Avis x

Foot²Freestyle: Time to play!

Hello everyone,

I have news……QUILTY news! That’s news of the very best kind in my opinion.

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Today is the launch of a block swap I’m taking part in called Foot Square Freestyle. Twelve quilters from across the globe, including yours truly, will be busy making three, one foot square blocks for each of the other eleven ladies in the group. Our names were drawn out of a hat to see who would be receiving their blocks on each of the next twelve months. I’m Miss November :-) However, Miss June is Esther from The Netherlands. She will be receiving eleven scrumptious packages from all of the other swappers this month. She will make three more blocks of her own, making a total of 36 blocks. In fact, she can add as many as she wishes. She might even decide to do something completely different with her collection. Who knows? All will be revealed later :-) My blocks are ready to post so keep an eye on your letter box Esther!

Anyway, this isn’t just any old block swap. It has been expertly devised and organised by Kate and Sue from Australia. So, thanks to both ladies for getting this swap underway.

We were all asked to choose up to three colours for the blocks we wished to receive. Foot Square Freestyle is all about freedom and freestyle. We have all entered into the spirit of having fun with the blocks we give and receive. I chose to request bright blue and purple blocks and I am really excited to see how everyone interprets my brief. That’s all part of the fun isn’t it? Part of me can’t wait until the blocks I’ve made are received thousands of miles from here and another part of me is thinking “What if she doesn’t like them?” That’s quite scary for me. Well, I suppose they could always send them back because I LOVE THEM! LOL

Here is a photo of my favourite quilt that you may have seen here before. I finished it about three years ago.

Blue and purple quilt

These weren’t complicated blocks to sew. I think I made the entire quilt top in a few days and it’s a whopper. It’s the colours that make me love this quilt so much. That’s why I chose them for my swap blocks. I love solids and marbled fabrics most of all, so if my swaps have some of those it would make me very happy. I’ve got quite a long time to wait for my turn and I know my parcels will be held up in the Christmas post. That doesn’t stop me being excited already :-)

If you stop by now and again I’ll keep you up to date with our progress. Isn’t sewing fun?

I hope you have lots of quilty sunshine today where you live.

Avis x

Five Photos – Five Stories #5

Hi everyone,

This is the final part in a series of five. I was nominated by Connie at basildonkitchens to take part in the following challenge:

“Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

Here is my 5th photo.

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Isn’t he a beauty?

This is another holiday snap. After driving north across South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, we stopped at the side of the road to eat our picnic by the car. As we got out the sandwiches, cake, fruit and Thermos flask, we hadn’t noticed who had crept up on us. There he was looking straight at us as he grazed. Could he be the phantom picnic snatcher? I wouldn’t want to mess with those magnificent antlers! We retreated to the safety of the car just in case :-)

It’s now time for me to nominate another blog for this challenge. I’m nominating Doreen from Treadle Music. Doreen is an amazing free motion quilter. I hope she accepts the challenge. Her blog is well worth a visit anyway.

Avis x

Five photos – Five Stories #4

Good evening everyone!

This is the 4th part in a series of five. I was nominated by Connie at basildonkitchens to take part in the following challenge:

“Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

Here is my 4th photo.

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It’s a holiday snap today.

Some of you may have walked past this little building without even looking at it or realising it was there. It is located on the edge of Gibson Park, Melrose in the Scottish Borders. Apparently, it has been in existence since before 1890, though it does appear to have had a fair bit of restoration since then. If you look closely, just above the door you will see that it used to be a fire station. The horse drawn fire tender used to be housed inside (without the horse of course). At no bigger than a single car garage, this has to be the smallest fire station in the world…..unless you know better ;-)

It’s now time for me to nominate another blog for this challenge. I’m nominating Gun from Rutigt. Gun is the Queen of Fabrics. She makes the most amazing things, especially from fabric scraps. I hope Gun will accept the challenge but if she doesn’t, her blog is always worth a visit anyway.

See you tomorrow with photo #5 :-)

Avis x

Five Photos – Five Stories #3

Hi everyone,

This is the 3rd part in a series of five. I was nominated by Connie at basildonkitchens to take part in the following challenge:

“Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

Here is my 3rd photo.

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Still sticking with the gardening theme. You were very patient reading my waffle yesterday so today I’m saying very little today.

What a difference a couple of hours makes :-) My last photo was how my greenhouse looked yesterday. Now, it’s almost ready to grow things in it again. Whether that will actually happen this year or not remains to be seen but I suppose there’s no excuse for not putting at least a few salad pots together. Bring on the summer!

It’s now time for me to nominate another blog for this challenge. I’m nominating Jule from The Pocket Camerade. Jule writes several wonderful blogs. She doesn’t usually take part in awards or chain letters but she might just make an exception for this one. Her blog is well worth a visit anyway. I hope she accepts.

See you tomorrow with photo #4 :-)

Avis x

Five Photos – Five Stories #2

Hi everyone,

This is the 2nd photo in a series of five. I was nominated by Connie at basildonkitchens to take part in the following challenge:

“Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

Here is my 2nd photo.

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I’m sticking with the gardening theme for now. It’s a true story. I can remember this like it was yesterday.

One cold and very windy winter’s night a few years ago, I was on my way home from work. The wind was the strongest I’d ever experienced and I remember being quite worried while driving, particularly along the seafront. The gusts of wind gripped the car and threatened to lift me off four wheels. I, in turn, gripped the steering wheel and wished I was home. This was the worst part of the journey that night. It was pitch black dark and, thankfully, most people had got themselves home earlier than I had, so there wasn’t too much traffic. I just wanted to be home, quickly and safely. Then everything would be OK and I could relax.

The first part of my journey from work was heading into the wind and that didn’t feel too bad. However, as I turned to go north towards my house on the cliffs, with the bitterly cold North Sea on my right, I began to think of damage. We always have damage, every time the wind is strong, especially from the east, we have damage. The ridge on the roof of our house runs north to south. Our longest fences around the property run north to south, perfect for the prevailing west winds to grab and throw as they please but everything has even less chance of staying put when the wind is straight off the sea, from the east. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often but when it does, we get damage.

Anyway, I did get home safely that night but I had no way of knowing whether we had lost fences or roof tiles because it was so dark outside. It would have to wait until morning. I was home and that’s all that mattered for now.

It was time for dinner. I switched the oven on and began to prepare vegetables. I walked towards the sink to wash them and something caught my eye through the kitchen window, glinting in the pitch black outside. I saw it again, this time a bit higher and then again. I remember standing really still, watching for it again but in reality, it couldn’t have been for more than a couple of seconds. There was one final FLASH and a CLATTER of aluminium and glass. My beloved greenhouse came slamming to the ground. The entire structure had literally lifted off the ground with the force of one gust then wobbled and contorted in the sky like a giant jellyfish before my eyes. Then it was back to Earth with an almighty CRASH.

I still remember that horrible night, then waking up in the complete calm of the next morning to the sea of devastation that had been left behind by that awful east wind.

When I hear news of hurricanes and tornados around the world it always makes me think of the night my greenhouse took flight. Losing my greenhouse was nothing compared to what some people suffer at the hands of extreme weather.

Anyway, I lost all interest in greenhouse gardening after that. The crumpled, mangled greenhouse was eventually replaced and, according to Mr Fixit, “This one will never lift off”. It hasn’t. However, we’ve lost many panes of glass, and last autumn, the door blew off! We found it flat on the grass with all panes miraculously intact. As you can see from my photo, Autumn is still in my greenhouse and it is now Spring. I wonder whether it will ever be summer in there again.

I got a bit carried away there…..

It’s now time for me to nominate another victim lucky blogger for this challenge. I’m nominating Kate from Tall Tales From Chiconia. I know she is incredibly busy but hope she will accept. Kate is an amazingly generous and talented patchwork quilter and blogger. She has many other tricks up her sleeve too. Pop over and take a look at her blog.

See you tomorrow with photo #3 :-)

Avis x

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