Tuesday, 6 December 2016

My Special Delivery

First of all thank you everyone for your so lovely comments last week.  To be honest I was moved to tears by some of them and they evoked such poignant memories.  The first time I found out I was having a baby was early December,too many years ago, my beautiful daughter was born the following July, then three years later I had a Christmas baby born December 18th.   My third baby was an Easter present born a few years later on Easter Monday.  But I was a little confused by some of your comments.

Second, I have to tell you, my special delivery....,,,

IS HERE!!!   What do you think?  Isn't she lovely, all shiny and new, my Bernina 770QE.  Like her?
She has a 10 inch throat and a 9mm stitch with.  She comes with a straight stitch plate and the Bernina Stitch Regulator.  She also has the new Bernina Hook and the bobbin in 70% bigger than normal, AND she has the Bernina Dual Feed, so I don't need a walking foot, although I do need the special feet but some including a quarter inch foot came with it.  
She is a huge investment for me, Gary was so shocked when I told him how much she cost, although I got £200 off as a show special.  Would you believe he couldn't remember me talking about it?  As if I would make the decision to spend so much money without discussing it with him, even if it was my own money.  Now if we had been taking football, meditation or his upcoming book he would have been able to quote me word for word.  I didn't take the decision lightly, I thought about it and talked about it for months before, I love my Bernina 440 and I had to make sure my new machine had everything I would ever need, I think this one has.

Baby, what baby?  You wouldn't think that SmilesfromKate would tease and deliberately mislead you would you?  You surely don't think that SmilesfromKate is a BIG FAT LIAR do you???????

I'm sorry, actually I really am, I was so moved by the comments, I almost wished things were different and I wasn't misleading you.  But there again I didn't fancy going in for the title of worlds oldest Mum.  And I haven't had any fun since my Bluebell Woods posts.  Should I tell you about my best ever tease?

Hehe, it was my husbands 50th birthday coming up, he has a reputation for guessing his gifts, he does it so often and it takes all the joy and surprise out of giving, this time I wanted to surprise him. Sure enough he started quizzing me about his birthday present, I just said it was something he always wanted,  and after that I just said ‘ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies’. Something he always wanted?  He started quizzing, my son, his daughter, his parents, my sister, then went on to friends and employees. He had it in his head he was getting a dog?????? I never said dog, all I said was his present wouldn’t be at home on the morning of his birthday as I had arranged for it to be delivered. The closer is birthday got the more concerned he became, he rang the vets and checked out vaccinations for his 'puppy’.   The day before he got the vacuum out and vacuumed his office for paperclips and elastic bands, we were shocked, we didn’t know he knew what a vacuum cleaner was for.   A customer came in and he told her about his birthday the next day and how he was getting a springer spaniel bitch liver and white and he was calling her Ella, after Ella Fitzgerald. He even consented to her bringing her son at the weekend to see his puppy. Gary went to work on his birthday, I stayed home for the delivery, his parents came over for a birthday meal and arrived before him, his present was quiet in the corner. As he came to the door his Mum put her hands over his eyes so he couldn’t see, and as he came in his Dad pressed the button, and his new electronic piano played ‘Happy Birthday” to him. Oh I got him good, he couldn’t even sit on the seat and play it for twenty minutes. The thing is everyone knows what Gary is like, and EVERYONE, except the customer, was in on the secret. It was so funny. Five years ago he eventually got his liver and white springer spaniel bitch named Ella, and guess what? Ella decided she was my dog, and that was that. We now have another, Ella’s half sister Indi, black and white instead of liver and white, I chose the name but she is Gary’s dog, Ella makes sure of that!

Moving on I've been playing, not a lot, I haven't had much time, but just to get the feel of her first before I had a serious look at what she can do.  (Tell the truth I don't know how most of it works yet either).

So I decided to 'make' some fabric with scraps.  It was harder than it looks, there is the temptation to add bigger and bigger pieces.  This needs more thinking about.

I did start doing Decembers Meadow Mystery instructions though.

But I had a bit of trouble and this is the only one of nine I have finished.  I wasn't happy with one of my joins you see, I unpicked it and re stitched it three times until it was perfect, then I realised I had put one piece in upside down.  Time for a three minute breathing space before unpicking it and doing it again, perfect.  You would think that I'd quit while I was ahead?  No, I started on the second block, I got six stitched together.........and I'd turned one piece around 90 degrees, that's when I gave up.  I'll let you know when I have the courage to get back to it.   Sometimes it just isn't your day!

I must say though with my new machine and using the quarter inch foot and straight stitch plate which is in imperial measurements my seams have much improved in consistent accuracy.  I also did some more secret sewing, it was tricky, but it's turned out lovely, except of course I can't show you, yet!

It did need a lot of fabrics though and I had to pull a lot of stuff out before I was satisfied with it, I made a bit of a mess............ (Shhhhh I tidied up before I dared take this)

Neither is it helped by the fact that although I have my perfect table and chair and my beautiful new machine I still haven't got any storage.  So the books are still piled up in the corner and I still have cardboard boxes and bags on the floor.  Most of my fabrics are in big boxes under the beds, some are on a shelf in a wardrobe.........  Only I've spent my budget so I need to save some more first.  Unless I can con  persuade my lovely husband to help me finish it off that is :-)

Before I go I have some other news, I have a place in Stash Bee next year, oh yes time for a happy dance.  If you don't follow Stash Be I suggest you check it out.  It is quiet just now as the 2016 Bee Groups are ending, but just wait until January 1st when the Bee's start buzzing'.   I'm in Hive 2 and my month is February, so, as I am so slow, I had better get choosing and planning now.  But one things for sure, whatever I chose I will tell you all about it.

'till next time
With smiles from,

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

I'm expecting.....

a new arrival.   Oh I'm so happy I could burst, I just had to share it.

We thought about it, Gary and I talked about it, hehe, now he's completely shocked by it, we got the EDD yesterday and it's sooner than I thought, so little time to prepare.  I can't say any more just now, I'm too emotional.

I can tell you about the disastrous day I had when I went to the Harrogate show though, well, not all disastrous, and more eventful really.  First of all I woke up to a very heavy frost, Gary was running late so I went out to clear the car while he fiddled about, how do men take more time to get ready than women?  So we jumped into the car and set off, thats when the first disaster struck me, i was wearing the wrong coat.  No, don't laugh, it was very cold and I was wearing my warmest coat, but it was my winter dog walking coat, the one I keep having to sponge muddy paw prints off, and certainly not the smartest when going for my Christmas day out with my friend Jan (who is always beautifully dressed).

Next thing was my husband reminded me to ring him on the way home so he could pick me up, second strike you've guessed it, my phone was still in the kitchen on charge, I couldn't believe it, I had been so organised the night before.  Good job Jan had hers, turned on and fully charged.

The last disaster came when I got home, well it happened when I was out really but I didn't find out about it until I got home, the heating broke down AGAIN!!!  It seemed to be the timer on the kitchen wall this time, it had to choose the coldest day of the winter so far.  They said they couldn't come out until Monday, it would have been Tuesday but we complained.  THEN, when the very nice lady gas engineer came and it wasn't the timer, it was a faulty gas valve and she didn't have one, so they came out Tuesday and at last we have heat.

Opps, no pics, sorry,

Here is some of the stuff I got.  Moda Grunge, like the colours?  A meter each of the three colours and two of the neutral, no I don't know what I will do with it yet, but I have only seen the odd one in my local shops and it's so hard to judge colour on the net.

What else, a fine awl for my embroidery, a Tulip one, nice quality, some packs of needles, I usually get the packets which are a bit cheaper but I figured the nice packaging will be reusable and I can just top them up when I get more.  A lovely little wooden bead tray,  (oops, forgot to put it in the pic), I use beads in my embroidery sometimes and they go all over, I know I could just use a jar lid but sometimes it's nice to treat yourself, it helps keep someone in a job, and it's good for the economy, yes I'm very good at convincing myself.  I got some tear away stabiliser which I wanted to try too.  Do you see the little heart at the bottom?  It's a fine magnetic needle threader, pretty isn't it?  I'll let you know how it works.  What do you think of this?

A kit for making a Turkish Doorstop, better than the one my husband came in with,  it was a rectangle of canvas with ducks on, and very ugly.  He was so proud of his bargain buy as it was half price, personally I wouldn't have bought it at any price, but I put it behind the lounge door to stop it from marking the wall and positioned it so it can't be seen so I can live with it.

Want to see my recent sewing?

My mystery quilt blocks, flying geese and square in a square.  I just trimmed them with my new BlocLoc flying geese ruler.  I must say they were trimmed in record time, it was so easy.  The only thing is I can only trim flying geese up to 4 x 2 inches, finished any other size I will need another one.  I could just trim the tops though that would be a big help.   It can trim any size square in a square up to 4 inches finished, as I don't usually make block components bigger than that it should be fine.

One Advent calendar top done, still needs to be layered and quilted.  I have started the second one (and a third one) but I haven't got very far.

One surprise mini quilt top finished ready to layer and quilt.  Yes it is under there, promise, no you can't have a peak, it wouldn't be a surprise otherwise now would it?

My other news is my last post just became my most popular ever post! Amazing, if you missed it you can find it HERE.  The reason is that one of my lovely readers, Lesley, recommended it to a UK blogger who mentioned me and gave a link to my post.  The thing is I do read her blog myself, she advocates frugal living and can be very funny at times.  Pop over and have a look, it would be nice to reciprocate, the blog is Life After Money by Meanqueen.

That's all my news for now, I will tell you more about my special news, but not today, it's too new and I haven't quite taken it in yet.

Until next time
smiles from,
Kate x

Linking up with Connie @ Linky Tuesday
Lorna @ Let's Bee Social
Kelly @ Needle and Thread Thursday
Sarah @ Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?
Amanda Jean @ Finish it Friday
Myra @ Finished or not Friday

Thursday, 17 November 2016

How I made.....

My Origami Christmas tree.

What do you think of my tree, like it?  It isn't my pattern, just one that was being passed around years ago.  I did a search for it and found a few including a You Tube video but I couldn't find where it had come from originally.

It takes just two contrasting five inch strips of width of fabric, you won't need the whole strip, but you can get two trees by turning the ruler or template, apart from that you just need a scrap for the trunk, two small  pieces for the pot and a 4 inch square of wadding.  There again you don't have to use Christmas fabric, and it would look great scrappy.  Although I do like the effect between the two fabrics with high contrast by using two less contrasting fabrics any imperfections wouldn't be so noticeable, hmmmmmmmmmm!  On the other hand, I do recommend the principle of 'blind men and galloping horses'.

Here's how I made it.

First I cut my triangles, I ironed the two strips if fabric right sides together and used my equilateral  triangle, the 60 degree kind where all the sides are the same length.  If you haven't got one you can easily make a template.

Draw a rectangle  6 inches wide by 5 1/4 inches high(I used a square ruler so I could make sure my corners were straight, or the end of a 24 inch ruler works too).  Measure the centre point at the top (which is 3 inches) and draw lines from the point to each bottom corner to make the triangle.

Now draw a line 1/4inch from the line which gets rid of the top point, now cut it out roughly, glue it on a piece of card and cut out on the line, or whatever other way you use to make a template, but you get the gist, yes?

Now using your ruler or template cut out 10 pairs of triangles from your layered fabric, or 20 if you have decided to make two.  When you use a ruler like mine which still has the top point on place the 5 1/4 inch line on the bottom and miss the point off.

You will need to cut off the first piece, then as you go turn your ruler 180 degrees for each cut to make the most economical use of the fabric.

Using a 1/4 inch seam machine around the three edges, leaving a gap of about 2 inches or what you feel comfortable with for turning.  Before you turn remember to trim those points.

Roll the edges, push out the points as best you can and press, stitch up your gap with a slip stitch or ladder stitch.

Now it's the Origami part.

Take your top point, fold it to each of the bottom corners and finger press to find the centre point, then fold one of your corners in to the centre.

Bring a threaded needle up from the back and stitch through all the layers to secure.  Do this with each of the three points so it becomes  more of a hexagon shape, don't cut off the thread, push your needle through to the reverse.

Turning it over, find the centre of the seamed edge (not the fold), fold it down to the centre and secure it there, do this with each of the three sides.  You may want to stop and tweak the shapes at this point (this is the bit I always forget to do).  This is your front, if you want you can stitch a bead or a sequin to the centre now, or leave it until the end.

Lay out your shapes in a pyramid and stitch them together at the folded edges from the back using a slip stitch or ladder stitch.

Now stop for a minute and admire what you just did, looking lovely isn't it?

Now for the trunk, from a scrap of fabric cut two pieces about 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 drawing a line from the 1/2 inch mark to the top centre like this .  The width and length isn't crucial, you may want it to be fatter or thinner, longer or shorter.  Stitch up the sides and the top, trim, turn and press. Just leave the bottom edge raw.  Only thing is I forgot to take any pics at this point.............

Now make the pot.  Draw a rectangle 3 3/4 inches wide by 3 1/4 inches deep, again the size is up to you, measure about 3/4 inch from each bottom point and draw a line up to the top corners to make your pot shape.  Use the template to cut out two pots from your pot fabric, and one piece of wadding.  Layer the two squares of fabric wrong sides together with a piece of wadding between,pin together, and cut around the edge with pinking shears.

Yes  I got carried away and forgot all about the pics again so you will just have to imagine.

 Now you can see the trunk and the pot.  Position the raw edge of the trunk inside the pot, centering it, and machine stitch 1/4 inch all around the edge.  Can you spot the mistake?  Yes, I added my trunk to the bottom of the pot and had to redo it.  The second time I changed to my walking foot which I should have done in the first place, it was so much easier to stitch.  Only thing is I  remembered to take the pic which is when I spotted the mistake, then forgot to take a pic the second time, this is becoming a habit.  Not one of my better days :-(

Pin and stitch your trunk to the tree using a slip stitch or ladder stitch as before.

Finally attach a ring or a loop of ribbon to the back for hanging, and enjoy.

This is the first one I ever made, about 8 years ago.  I didn't have any pinking shears so I just machined around leaving a gap at the bottom to turn it through.  What I should have done was make the pot 1/4 inch bigger all round but I never thought.

Before I leave you I am beside myself with the news I have had today and just HAVE to share it, even though it isn't quilting related.

My husband's book has just gone to print and we have a preliminary publishing date of 27th January 2017, AND it is on Amazon UK (and China) and on other bookstores including in Japan.  Happy, happy, happy, I'm singing and dancing!!!

Until next time
Laughing my head off
With smiles from
Kate x

Linking up with Lorna @ Let's Bee Social, Kelly @ Needle'n' Thread Thursday, Sarah @ Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Amanda Jean @ Crazy Mom Quilts, and Myra @ Finished or not Friday, Cooking up Quilts, Monday Making, and Em's Scrap Bag

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Today I'm at........

Higham Hall in the beautiful Lake District.  I got here on Sunday and today is my second full day of embroidery.  I got up extra early so I could get on the internet while everyone was still in bed, it can be a 'bit' slow later in the day.

So, what am I doing?  Well I have been on with my usual project for quite a while now, I normally come here for a weekend, have a great time stitching, go home full of inspiration to get on a make progress........and quilting takes over.  This is classed as a 'taster' class, I can try up to four new projects/techniques, so I thought it would be nice to make something I can start and finish while I am here, just to have a finish, know what I mean?

So, this is the teachers sample of what I am making.   It is made in Calico Gardens, which is stitched on calico using stump work and embroidery, in neutral colours.  Like it?  Before anyone who knows me asks no, I will not be including the bee, it may be cute and it is as furry as it looks, but it is all I would see and would spoil the finished pic for me, but I will be adding something else......

This is mine so far.  As you can see I have made the stems with stem stitch using Perle 8 in three different colours.  I always did stem stitch as it says in the books, my teacher showed me the 'proper' way, so much easier and neater.  The echinasia centres are first padded with three layers of felt, each one bigger than the previous, doing it this way the top is smooth, then they are covered with french knots, more french knots in a contrasting colour still need to be added.  My leaves are part done, first outlines in a back split stitch, and now I am filling in the centres using silk shading in two colours, I need to do the second colour next.

The internet here is so rubbish, I had planned to show you pics of what my classmates are doing, but it will take forever to upload them so I will have to show you next time.

BUT, before I go I just have to show you what I bought in the little town of Cockermouth three miles away.

SHOES, or rather boots as they have a side zip, are they not beautiful?  They are a little brighter in reality, and the heels are trimmed with red which you can't see.  Why is it I find the most beautiful shoes when I am away from home and not looking for any?  These are Spanish I believe, not cheap, but not horrendously expensive either.  I so love them...........

Have to go now, my class is about to start and I am being ribbed, AGAIN.....

So, from the beautiful Lake District in North West England
Smiles from,
Kate x

Linking up with Lorna @ Let's Bee Social, Kelly @ Needle'n' Thread Thursday, Sarah @ Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Amanda Jean @ Crazy Mom Quiltsand Myra @ Finished or not Friday and who is also hosting TGIFF this week

Thursday, 27 October 2016

My week to date...

Not much sewing gone on this week, not that I can show you anyhow.  What with visitors and my sewing room in complete disarray, and I haven't told you about the heating problems yet, but guess what was delivered?

Oh yes, it is here at long last......

It does take up more room than I anticipated so I have positioned it at the side and the machine is under an LED ceiling light which is out of shot.  It has locking castors so I can pull it out easily if I want to walk around it.   See the black handle at the side?  If I turn it the table goes up or down so it will always be at the right hight for me wether I am sitting or standing.   Yes, the books are still in the corner with the (not to be used as) cake tins which contain my quilting pins and scraps as well as various bits and bobs just now.

 See how my machine sits in the cradle with the perspex template giving a flat surface, much better than an extension table.  If remove the machine the base comes up giving me a large table for cutting or layering too.

And look at all the space, plenty of room to trim white cutting and so much space when machine quilting.

What do you think of the chair?  It adjusts so many ways, it swivels, goes up and down, the seat tips up and down and the back tilts too, talk about ergonomics.

Now the table has come I can start to get the rest of the room sorted with shelving and drawers for fabrics and books and all those other essential items.

Want to know about my heating?  Well it's been rather cold recently so I turned on the central heating and left it on the timer so it comes on and goes off twice a day.  My son and his girlfriend came up for a few days and on Tuesday we went to a restaurant for dinner, on our return the house was boiling hot, the heating, which should have been off on the timer, was going full blast, and the temperature far exceeded the 19 degrees it was set at. We had to turn the boiler off at the electrics, you see I had this happen in the early spring and called the gas company, apparently my boiler was in danger of exploding YIKES!!!  Yes, it is rare but it has happened.  These intermittent faults can be awful to diagnose, I had a new diverter valve fitted last time, but apparently this engineer thinks it is some sort of feedback so he is coming back today to fit a suppressor.  Wish me luck.

The only sewing related pic I can show you today is fabric.

I'm not going to tell you what I am going to do with it today, I've started it but it's not finished yet.  As you can see it's Christmas fabric so you would guess right that it's a Christmas project.  No I'm not saying anything else, ask me no questions I'll tell you no lies.

That's all my news this week, except to say I am going away to Higham Hall again on Sunday for four nights on an embroidery course, I can choose what to do and I think I will do stump work this time, but I'll show you when I get back.

Until then
Smiles from,
Kate x

Linking up with Lorna @ Let's Bee Social, Kelly @ Needle'n' Thread Thursday, Sarah @ Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Amanda Jean @ Crazy Mom Quilts, and Myra @ Finished or not Friday and who is also hosting TGIFF this week

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

At Last, At Last, a Finished top!

At last I have progress to show you on my circles quilt.  'I don't believe it' I hear you cry, but 'tis true, the top is finished at long last.

Like the borders?  Worth waiting for?  Don't answer that!!!  In case you have forgot I had discussions about the borders with Jennifer @ The Inquiring Quilter, I knew I what I wanted with the colours but felt it would be too heavy, too solid.  Jennifer had the inspiration of adding the background, inspired or what?  

Have a closer look,  There is a one inch finished background border, a two inch finished coloured border, and another 1 inch finished background border.  The grey of the diamonds was added as cornerstones to the coloured border.  In retrospect the corners should all have been lighter in colour to enhance the grey, but I had just about run out of colours and didn't want to repeat any.  So, what's the verdict? 

So now I need help, can I go on calling it my Circles Quilt?  Now the top is finished it needs a proper name, but what?  Circles, moons, spheres, diamonds, stuff like that comes to mind but nothing is grabbing me, do you have any inspiration? 

I have also caught up (almost) with the Meadowfield Mystery Quilt.  Oh yes, I've been motoring.

Look at all those half square triangles!   The light colour is a sort of grey blue but the light wasn't wonderful for pics.  You should have seen them before I enhanced them.  This was month two, the first month was the cutting.

Month three, not only half square triangles but quarter square triangles too, Cheryl is surely the triangle queen.  How do I make such wonderful triangles you ask?  Well I finally tracked down a shop in the UK that sells BlocLoc rulers, Patchwork Cabin and invested in the six inch one.   Although you can't order from the website you can ring and order over the phone.  I rang up on the Saturday and my ruler arrived, very well packaged, on the Tuesday, excellent service, and the lady was very helpful and nice too.   If you haven't looked at them before BlocLoc rulers come in all different sizes, but by getting just the 6 inch one I could cut blocks up to 6 inches, rather than buying all the sizes, which would be eye wateringly expensive, and I'm mean like that.

This is what I have left from the cutting.  Why did I day almost caught up?  I messed up cutting one of the quarter square triangles so I have to make another one.

You may have noticed I changed one of my fabrics from my original choice.   It was when I realised there was all those half square triangles and the fabric is directional.  I also had reservations about it being next to the grey/blue, it didn't quite do it for me.  Shame I didn't decide to change it BEFORE I cut it all up..........

No further news on my sewing room sadly, but I can show you......

The newly painted cupboard, now I can get lots of stuff in that.  Couldn't show you it now though, it's full of stuff.....

and my quilting books in a corner waiting for some shelves to find a new home.  

It has now been three weeks since I ordered the table and chair though and delivery was supposed to be 28 days so fingers crossed the room will be finished by say, Christmas??????

And that's your lot for today, I hope you've enjoyed reading the blog, makes a change from my whinging anyway.

Until next time
Smiles from Kate :-)

Linking up with Lorna @ Let's Bee Social, Kelly @ Needle'n' Thread Thursday, Sarah @ Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

2016 Finish Along Quarter 4

Just a short post, it was written in advance and it's a bit boring really, but I'm publishing it anyway because it will help me focus.

The good news is I have been sewing this weekend, it felt great to be getting something done and giving myself a shake.  I'll do a 'proper post' next week, and this time I will have some progress to show you.

Now that the summer is officially over I am hoping to get back to normal and get back into my quilting routine, if I ever had one in the first place that is!

Without further ado, here is my list for this quarter.

1 Get, and keep, up to date with the Meadow Mystery Quilt, which is great fun.  I haven't done a mystery quilt before.

This was my original fabric pull, but I changed the yellow/green one for a lovely tomato red.

2 Get the circles quilt finished and give it a name.

3 Make two Advent calendars for gifts, make that three.  I have a collection of panels to dip into, I buy them every year, I just can't resist.
Update I sorted through my advent calendar collection yesterday, I chose three out of a total of 15 (blush, blush).

4 Join Jennifer, The Inquiring Quilter, on her Berry Cross quilt along, her new pattern from the Cloud9 Blog Hop.  Please, please check it out, there is a new button for the quilt along on my sidebar which takes you to the page and schedule.

5  I'm doing two mini quilt swaps for Christmas with my wonderful friends Jennifer and Janice who have been sharing this wonderful new quilt blogger adventure with me.

And that's it, I have omitted a lot of the stuff I didn't get done last quarter, in fact I only brought one forward and added four new things.  There are a couple of bits and pieces I'd like to do, but they aren't a priority just now.  Realistically I need to make the mini quilts, the advent calendars and I would really like to finish the circles quilt, anything after that is a bonus.

Linking up to Mrs Sew and So, one of the global hosts.

Wish me luck in my list, after last quarter even one finish would be a result, but you know what Today has been cold and rainy, I've been in the house all day, I've seen no one or spoken to no one, except my husband, but life is what you make of it and I'm bouncing back, and its partly because of the wonderful messages of support you have given me.   So, sorry I haven't been reading many blogs recently, and I've not been commenting or keeping up with my return emails either, but I'm still here and I'm smiling again, so, see you soon

Smiles and hugs,
Kate x