Pressies All Round

I do love it when my daughter goes off travelling because she always find gorgeous fabric for me. She likes to travel light which means there’s usually room in her luggage for lots of treats.

She was in China for the New Year Festival and there were loads fantastic of red decorations everywhere. Red symbolises good luck. How lucky I was to be presented with this New Year’s fabulous fish!


I love the rainbow sequins and all the sparkly bling 🙂 As you can see, it hangs from a very special knot. There’s also a long thick double tassle hanging underneath which isn’t in the photo. It might be a Chinese New Year decoration but it’s going to hang in my dining room all year because it makes me smile.

My daughter knows I love things made from fabric so she also brought me a fabric tray. The sides are pulled together at the corners with a thick cord knot and loop fastening. The machine embroidered outer fabric is very pretty but I’ve realised I can’t see it when the tray is in use so I’m going to turn it inside out and have the bonny side inside. It came with some Chinese chocolate coins. YUM!

The underside.

IMG_20180225_145812865-780x1040Loop and knot corner fastening.

IMG_20180225_145834299-780x1040 (1)



Even though my daughter was travelling around China and stayed in several places, she didn’t come across any shops or markets that sold fabric suitable for patchwork. However, a trip across the water to Taiwan changed all that. Bingo!

Here’s my haul, starting with a couple of purple designs. All the fabrics have a touch of metallic.


Five blues.


Four reds.


It’s all lovely patchwork cotton quality and I’m so pleased with it. I have no idea what to make (apart from a gift, see further down).

My daughter loves green so she treated herself to this embroidered silk fabric with a challenge to me to make something for her. It’s actually a much darker, richer green in real life.


It always takes me a while to decide what to do with new fabric. I’m in no hurry. However, my friend Claire had already said her favourite design was the red one with the bamboo. I’ve just acquired an old Singer Sewing Machine so I decided to give it a proper workout. I made this quilted zipper pouch and sent it off to France with some treats inside 🙂


I like a boxy bottom…


…and covered zip ends.

IMG_20180304_164149261-1040x780The lining is in Christmas Red from Moda Bella Solids.


Here it is posing on my Singer 🙂 There’s also another present in this photo. I’ll tell you all about it later.

IMG_20180304_164043525-1040x780 I included a scrappy bookmark for good measure.


The old machine made light work of the quilting, inserting the zipper and stitching through all the thicknesses including the lining. I had fun putting it through its paces.


That Book Made Me Do It!

Hello everyone!

Remember my last post when I gushed about a book I’d just finished reading? I left you all with a bit of a cliff hanger didn’t I? I told you the book made me do something I should have done years ago but I didn’t spill the beans last time. Well, I’ve now got some nice photos to show you. The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie MADE ME buy a Singer 99K.


In fact, I hadn’t even finished the book before I’d made my purchase. It’s the same model as the one I learned to sew on with my lovely teacher Miss Fox. I was only ten years old at the time and I’ve wanted a hand cranked Singer ever since.


This one was made in 1944 so it isn’t a very old one. There were hundreds of thousands of this type manufactured and mine was one of a batch of 5000. The decals are quite good for their age except for one large chip which is about the size of a thumb print.


I believe this particular decals pattern is called Filigree. There’s loads of information about old Singers on this site if you’re interested and this site has lots of information about many makes of machines, including all the serial numbers and dates of manufacture of Singers.


The underneath and inside were very clean but the outside was grubby when it arrived. I love the little button you need to press to make the bobbin pop up. It’s just below the screw in the photo.


It was all set up for sewing two layers of leather when it arrived. The leather needle supplied with a short length of very strong thick thread meant I could test sew straight from the box. I’ll mainly be using this machine for patchwork so I was a bit worried about changing the tension so radically at first. Sometimes it’s better to leave a happy machine alone isn’t it? It didn’t take long to work out how to operate the tension dial. On later models the dial has numbers. Here, you just have to guess and check by sewing a test piece. As you can see, it’s now sewing two layers of patchwork cotton beautifully.


I’ve actually had all the tension mechanism apart because I like to see what’s inside and how things work. There’s not much to it. My screwdrivers have had a good little workout this last week 😉 Not because there was anything wrong. Just because I like to get into the gubbins and learn about what’s going on under the bonnet.

The face plate is really pretty I think.


The next one shows the brand plate. Just above that (the silver knob that’s sticking out) is the stitch length selector. It works in the same way as the tension. Turning it clockwise increases the stitch length, anti-clockwise shortens stitches. There’s no reverse on this model. Later models have reverse stitching and also numbers to indicate stitch length.


Here’s a bird’s eye view.


Here’s the back.


This is the bent wood box that does lock but I wouldn’t risk carrying the machine by the handle just in case.


As you can see, someone has taped over the box in the past which has stripped the varnish. How could they do that?!! Also, there’s some damage to the front right that I’m in the process of repairing. The lid wasn’t fastened to the machine when it arrived and it appears the machine had fallen forward in transit, forcing the hand wheel to push outwards, splitting the box. That made me mad. Wrapping the machine in bubbles before putting it in the wooden box would have prevented this. What’s done is done. I’ll give it some TLC. This is how it was when it arrived. So sad.


It’s not a rare or valuable machine but it’s mine and I’ll treasure it 🙂 Have you ever been compelled to do something after reading a book?

At the back of the book I mentioned earlier there’s a link to a fantastic film of original footage from the Singer factory. It’s about 70 minutes duration and I was absolutely glued to the screen from start to finish. After the first few minutes you’ll see the different stages of manufacture of the old Singer machines. It’s worth watching if you’re at all interested in these old gems.

You’ll need to search for “Birth of a Sewing Machine” once you get to the landing page here:

If you do find time to watch, I’d love to know what you thought of it.

On that note, I’m off. I’ve got sewing to do.

The Sewing Machine – A Book Recommendation

Hello everyone,

It was my birthday recently and my blogging friend Claire thought I’d love to read The Sewing Machine so she ordered a copy and had it sent direct to me.


I wouldn’t call myself an avid reader by any means and I’d usually much rather spend my spare time sewing than reading. However, Claire was keen for me to read this one so I did. Yes, I used some of my precious crafting time to read!! Can you believe that? I’m not going to write a review as such because I don’t really have the words. I prefer to read a book and simply enjoy it for what it is, rather than give it a post mortem which so often spoiled books for me at school (it actually put me off reading). However, this book got under my skin.

The Sewing Machine is a debut novel by Natalie Fergie. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll be looking out for more by this author in future and that’s a first for me. The front cover gives an idea of what the story is about.

One sewing machine.

Two families.

Three secrets.

Four generations.

Millions of stitches.

If you love sewing machines and/or you love to sew I think you’ll really enjoy this book. There’s a lot more to the story than just a sewing machine. It brought back lots of memories from my childhood including my sewing lessons with a very special primary school teacher, the amazing Miss Fox. Yes, I know, I’ve written about her here before. If I told you what other memories this book brought back to me I’d give the story away so I won’t. All I’ll say is that this book made me do something I should have done years ago. I’ve been meaning to do it and I should’ve done it. I just didn’t. Well, now I have and I’ll tell you all about it in another post some time soon.

The Sewing Machine is available on Amazon at £1.99 for the Kindle version and, in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. There’s a paperback and audio version out too. I’m not getting paid to recommend this book. I just want everyone to have the chance to enjoy it as much as I did. I’m actually planning to read it again and that’s another first for me! Let me know if you’ve read it. I’d love to know what you think.

Anyway Natalie, if you ever read this, thank you so much for writing a great story, stirring up some wonderful memories (and quite sad ones) and making me do that thing I should have done decades ago. Also, thank you to Claire who seems to know what’s good for me :-). Nowt new there then!

I’m going to publish this post on my other blog as well. Don’t want anyone to miss out on a great read :-).


Loyal Union Sampler Blocks 23, 24 and 25/121

Plodding along with the Loyal Union Sampler from the book by Jennifer Chiaverini.

First up, an easy one called Cornerstone. This is the first block on the third row.

C-1 Cornerstone

Next is Cotton Boll (funny name). Another quick one to make. I think it has lots of secondary pattern possibilities for a one block quilt with different colour placements. Must try it some time.

C-2 Cotton Boll

The last one was a bit more tricky but very enjoyable to make. I quite like two colour blacks. This is called Crosses and Losses. Again, loads of pattern possibilities for using lots of these in one quilt.

C-3 Crosses and Losses

Here’s the virtual quilt so far. The other blocks are shown in previous posts.

LUS 25 BlocksWe’re snowed in here. The main road near us is closed to traffic and there are several abandoned cars along the route. British weather, eh? Oh well, I’ll just have to sew 😉


Loyal Union Sampler Blocks 20, 21 and 22/121

Hurray! That’s the first two rows finished.

This one is called Combination Star.

B-9 Combination Star

Next up is Connecticut.

B-10 Connecticut (My version)This is actually my own adaptation of the original block design in the Loyal Union Sampler book by Jennifer Chiaverini which shows all 12 pieces meeting at the centre. I suspect the Moda fabric I’m using is just too thick to work with this block. I had several attempts which seemed to be getting progressively worse in appearance. All went well every time until the final seam and then there was nowhere for all the bulk to go. I tried spiralling the seams, opening them and also pressing to one side but that final seam just didn’t want to play and knocked everything gonky. I even trimmed the seams with no luck. If I’d been working with prints it would have probably been OK but these solids are so unforgiving. Hence, the final solution after discussion with Claire was to piece the centre in 4 instead of 12 and it’s worked really well.

I was initially approaching this project as a purist. I’m usually more than happy to change designs and patterns to my liking but I’d set out to follow this one to the letter and I found it so hard to “give in”. Anyway, after looking at several of the other blocks that are still left to do, I found a couple with appliqué and I definitely have no intention of doing appliqué blocks for this quilt. Once I’d made that decision it was easy to change Connecticut.

Finally, to complete the second row, is a block called Constance’s Pride. You can see the virtual quilt so far to the right of the screen.
B-11 Constance's Pride

Do you ever change designs? Maybe use patterns just as inspiration and then go off on a tangent? I suppose if we do change things it means our projects will be unique.


Loyal Union Sampler Blocks 18 and 19/121.

I’ve been away from the land of blogs for quite a while, except for my three weekly posts at Sewing Beside the Sea. I’m not going to make any excuses because I don’t have any, other than that my spare time was precious and I chose to craft rather than blog. That doesn’t mean I’ve been a crafting Ninja while I’ve been absent but I have made a few things during the last year which I’ll show you now and again if I don’t decide to disappear back into my crafting cave. Yes, it’s over a year since I posted here. My friend Claire has been going on and on at me encouraging me to write some posts so I promised to dip my toes back in again and see how it goes. Claire has been sending me lists of things I’ve made that I could show and write about here, some of which I’d forgotten and others that I hadn’t even bothered to take photos of before they were gifted. She’s even sent me some photos that I’d originally sent her via email in case I needed to use them here. Where would I be without her?

During the last couple of weeks I’ve put on a bit of a spurt with The Loyal Union Sampler from the book by Jennifer Chiaverini. The last time I worked on these dinky 6 inch blocks was in November 2016 so this project was well overdue some of my attention (notice a theme here?).

Anyway, here’s Christmas Star which has a white background in real life and not pale blue. Electric light does my photography no favours. I gave up counting how many pieces it has. Too many for a tiny block but I enjoyed making it.

B-7 Christmas Star

This is Coffee Mill. I like how it rotates but that isn’t what caused the blurring!

B-8 Coffee Mill I’ve updated the virtual quilt and I’m pretty determined to make some headway on this project now so watch this space. It would be nice to get the second row completed wouldn’t it?

LUS 19 Blocks I hope you’re enjoying a crafting weekend.


Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year Everyone!

Finished 2016

It’s been a busy year for me again and the patchwork has taken a bit of a back seat. I did finish four projects namely the sausage dog, the green stars quilt, the tardis and the F2F quilt. I can’t take credit for all the blocks in the F2F quilt but I did assemble and quilt it myself. I spent lots of time this year making the tiny blocks for the Loyal Union Sampler and also lots of 12 inch blocks for the F2F Block Swap organised by Kate. So, there’s been loads of partial finishes but not many completed projects as far as patchwork goes. You can see lots more pictures of everything by clicking the “Finished 2016” tab at the top of the page. If you click on the photos on that page, you’ll be taken to the relevant posts.

I’ve been more active on cross stitch projects this year. You can see those on my other blog Sewing Beside the Sea.

Thank you to everyone who supported my blog last year, whether you’ve been reading anonymously in the background or actively liking, commenting and emailing. It’s nice to have you stop by.


Sausage Dog Fun

Hello everyone,

I can now share something that I made for my daughter for Christmas. She’s been wanting a sausage dog for along the bottom of the door for a while. I came across this pattern and just had to make one.

He’s got lovely ears…


…and a proper stand up tail.


He was very easy to put together. I made my own slight alterations to the pattern instructions regarding the construction methods for the gusset under his chin and attaching the ears. 


You might recognise the shiny fabric. I’ve finally chopped up a sari that my daughter brought for me from India.

IMG_20161216_115921855I think he looks very smart in his shiny coat. He’s stuffed quite firmly in the head and tail. I also bought him a collar with red flashing LEDs but haven’t got a photo of him wearing it. He’s very well behaved and has taken up residence along the back of the sofa. It’s too draughty down by the door 🙂


Loyal Union Sampler Block 17/121

Just one block to show today. This one is called Charlie Stokey’s Star and I really enjoyed making it. Charlie Stokey's StarHere’s what the virtual quilt looks like so far.LUS 17 blocksThe blocks all finish at six inches square and details can be found in the Loyal Union Sampler book by Jennifer Chiaverini. I hope you’ve had time to craft today.


Loyal Union Sampler Block 16/121

Good afternoon everyone,

Not a lot of progress to share on the sampler this week. I made the nine square in a square blocks the other day and then just looked at the pieces on my mat and walked away several times. Sometimes I just know it isn’t going to be successful so I go off and do something else. Today, the bits went together like a dream. It was worth waiting until I could give it my best shot.

Anyway, this one is called Chambersburg from the Loyal Union Sampler book by Jennifer Chiaverini. It’s got forty five dinky pieces and finishes at six inches square. I’ll definitely make this block again in a larger format. There’s so much that could be done with colour placement to make secondary patterns.

Chambersburg Here’s where I’m at now.

LUS 16 Blocks

It’s back to Y-seams for the next two blocks. I promise not to whinge!

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