Saturday, 29 September 2012

Welcome to the Make and Craft Book Blog Tour!

Hello and welcome to my blog!

Welcome to day 4 in the Make and Craft Book Blog Tour and a give away of Noah's Ark: Sewing, Quilting and Applique for You and Your home . Thank you to Amanda Addison for the wonderful blog post yesterday!

Make and Craft magazine is a new magazine released on the 12th October and is a wonderful collection of crafts from sewing to crochet and everything in between! Perfect for a serial crafter like me!

My usual introduction is "Hello my name is Anna and I am a fabric addict!". I have suffered from this addiction for 17 years and I have no plans to find a cure - EVER! I have been a quilter and sewer all of those years. I am totally self taught - I went through school refusing to sew because it was for girls and went to University to study Astrophysics! I discovered patchwork in a Prima Magazine and the structure, shapes and use of colour fascinated me - that one moment started an obsession!

For a day job I teach sewing across Gloucestershire for Adult Education - you can see how I have used my degree! Teaching sewing doesn't really come under the heading of day job, since I adore what I do! In between classes I quilt and sew like a mad thing!

In my spare time I am a lone parent to 3 gorgeous boys and I run 2 Scout groups in my town... My blog is about the adventures I have with my boys, fabrics I obsess about, quilts I make and my adventures teaching!

The book on my day is Noah's Ark: Sewing, Quilting & Applique for You & Your Home by Anne-Pia Godske Rasmussen, which is a good choice for me since I have a Noah who loves sewing!

Noah is 6 and has used my sewing machine to make himself a bag, bunny sleeping bag and patchwork blanket. Together we have been checking out this gorgeous book!

His opinion of the book is: Cool!

The book is packed full of patterns of gorgeous animals for your Ark. Each one has wonderful clothing and will make great presents for Christmas - between us Noah and I have sorted out gifts for all his friends!

There are also patterns for bunny hot water bottles and Herring bags!

Noah and I can't wait to get making from the book!

I have a copy of the book to give away, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me which craft you love and why! I Love hearing about other people's crafts! A winner will be picked at random on Monday October 8th at 8pm.

Good Luck!

If you fancy buying a copy you can at all usual outlets, but why not try giving your local indie bookshop a try?

 Plus don't forget to check out tomorrows stop on the Book Blog Tour, Tilly Mint Boutique.

Title: Noah's Ark: Sewing, Quilting & Applique for You & Your Home by Anne-Pia Godske Rasmussen
ISBN: 978-1-84448-800-1

Friday, 28 September 2012


The last 24 hours have been pretty hectic...

My gorgeous eldest son had a interesting rash yesterday morning. I immediately thought allergic reaction and after a quick conversation with his dad, we realised it was the second reaction - the first happened on Wednesday morning.

So Piriton went in and a quick visit to the local minor injuries unit. They said it was a viral rash. Nothing to worry about.... but he wasn't ill, he had no temperature and no swollen glands.... I was not convinced!

The Piriton worked really well and the rash disappeared... Then at 3.30pm the rash re-appeared. I thought OK, it's 6 hours later lets give him some more Piriton. This time it didn't touch the rash, in fact his lips started to swell!

So off to A & E we went. They were stumped. No cause for the allergic reaction - they confirmed it wasn't a viral rash. They have resorted to the fall back position of if in doubt use steroids.

We came home just as he was going into wave 4 of reaction - the rash was rushing back into his body and I have kept a close eye on lips and breathing during the night...

He is doing OK, but is totally covered in angry red patches...

The thing about emergencies when you are lone parent is that they are pretty lonely affairs. Every parent feels anguish when things like these happen, but if you are in a partnership you have someone to turn to. Someone to bounce the anguish and organisation off.

When it is you trying to juggle the children and make decisions for the best, there is no-one to bounce off. My closest family is 3 hours away. I do have 2 ex-husbands... one is around and supportive with his son, the other.... but talking to them is hard - they are an ex for a reason!

So my friends are my safety net. They are amazing families around us who support us no matter what. Last night my younger 2 went to different houses to play. I collected mini as I knew he would wake frightened in another house. Rocking up at 10pm I was met with a huge hug from my friends husband just to say everything is OK....

It was the best thing he could have done.

With no partner hugs are pretty thin on the ground... celebratory hugs, had a crap day hugs, god that was scary hugs... they don't really exist. Those hugs at the end of the day that say everything is OK... I miss those the most...

But I do have amazing friends and their husbands who make sure me and my boys are safe - I have one who phones me to tell me off if I am dithering over a decision!

And yes they do give me a hug when things are crap and for that I will be forever grateful x

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Wondered why I like grey..

Over the last year or so I have been experimenting with white, cream and grey as background to the quilts I have made.

The white and cream I understand, they make the colours go pop! Combine that with some gorgeous quilting the finished quilt looks amazing!

But I have been puzzled as to why I am drawn to the ash, charcoal and grey. In January and made my littlest monster a quilt with a gorgeous grey from Kona:

Then on Tuesday I was driving to teach in Gloucester and I could see the rain clouds coming on over the Severn from Wales. The view is spectacular in the sunshine, but yesterday there was a fierce grey sky, not a placid grey, but a really grey.

As I drove I realised that all of the colours popped against the grey back drop. The colours of the tops of the trees were vivid, the browns of the fields were richer..

I suddenly realised that I am drawn towards grey as a background because it reflects nature. It can be found as a stunning backdrop on the most of horrible days!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Seeing Pebbles!

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Craftsy and the courses that they offer. I bought the Negative Spaces course by Angela Walters.

When I wrote the post I had managed to watch the videos, but not mactually managed to try out her techniques. At first I had worried about using the techniques on a home machine - Angela uses a free motion quilt machine - but her tips for transferring the skills to home machines were spot on!

The course focuses initially on planning. You need to practice with a pen the designs you want to put into the negative spaces on the quilt:

I opted to try out the pebbles on my the elephant quilt I am making. I purposely included lots of negative space to quilt. Angela is very reassuring about using free motion techniques on the negative spaces. Matching the thread to the quilt top means you can focus on adding texture to the quilt, without having to worry about perfection!

My thread is very similar to the top, but darker than the backing fabric so you can see the progress I have made on the quilt:

Using my lovely quilting gloves and Aurifil thread the quilt is coming together brilliantly!

I also had a go at swirls for a mat for my sewing machine:

I still have a couple more classes to take - each one is between 15 and 25 minutes long so there is plenty of into and ideas to digest!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Choosing a design..

At the moment I have 2 quilts for presents that I am working on.

One is really urgent, the other I have a few weeks to get done.

So I have been looking around for quick quilt ideas for the urgent one and found this idea on Film in the Fridge blog:

It is a simply, but gorgeous quilt for a baby that is really eye catching! If you have never visited Film in the Fridge, you are missing out. This blog is packed full of eye candy as well as tips, hints and fabric collections to drool over!

I have a collection of blues left over from the School banner I made over the summer and I bought some Micheal Miller Little Elephants from Eclectic Maker, so I am kinda following the idea above, but with more strips...

The second quilt is for a very special person who means the world to me, so it has to be special. The Tula Pink fabrics that arrived on Thursday are for her quilt and I had been playing around with a snow ball design, with large snow balls, but I have found this one Fresh Lemons website that I love too.

I think Tula Pink's fabulous design would work perfectly with a cream background. The sizes of the blocks mean I can show off the designs perfectly!

Friday, 21 September 2012

A Great Surprise

Yesterday I wrote about watching for the post box and jumping on the postman to see of he had any parcels. I thought I was in for a long wait and I was unhappily resigned to waiting...

So when my classes were cancelled yesterday I heading into town after the school run to have a coffee in peace - no housework to depress me in the bakers!

When I came back I spied some wonderful packaging from America! Now this parcel was only posted on Saturday... how on earth could it have gotten from the other side of the pond to here in 6 days?????

I have know fabric shops in the UK take twice as long as that to get fabric to me even though I have paid first class postage!

I had wandered back from town cursing myself for not nipping to the toilet before I left the coffee shop (might be a slight overshare there!), but as soon as I spied the parcel all I could think about was ripping it open! (I know you have done the same thing.)

The contents are were just as yummy as the shop pics promised:

Bad picture I know, but I just love the way Fat Quarterly Shop send out their fabric.

I love the Bloggers Choice for this month, but my favourite is Tula Pink's collection:

They are yummy scrummy!

They are for a special quilt that has to be made in the next 5 weeks, so I am hoping the Kona solid I ordered yesterday appears soon so I can get cracking!

Oh and I did remember to have a wee after I had washed all of the fabric and put it in the drier!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Post box watching...

No I don't have a fascination with the Postman, I have just got loads of yummy things coming!

First there are the blocks for the Anything Goes Quilting Bee. As you know I created the bee so I sent out the first block instructions fabric. Now the fantastic finished blocks are coming back:

They are all fantastic! There are 7 more to come back, so I will be watching the post box for quite a bit longer.....

I also have a fantastic bundle of fabrics coming from Fat Quarter Shop.... Now that only left the US on Saturday so could take 3 weeks to get here... but I wish it would get here soon!

I have this fabulous bundle from Tula Pink for a very special quilt and this month bloggers choice bundle too.... So fly fast my parcel from Fat Quarter Shop!

And finally I have been really naughty this morning and ordered some fabric from Eclectic Maker for my sewing classes. My young ladies on a Tuesday really wanted some 'big boy' fabric for Daddies Christmas present. They chose this wonderful bundle from Parson Grey:

I also bought some mega cute Micheal Miller Elephants for a secret project...

So Mr Postman, remember I bought you a box of chocolate at Christmas? Please deliver me some lovely fabric soon....

Friday, 14 September 2012

Getting Withdrawl....

As a fabric addict I need to be near fabric everyday, I need to sew, I need to design...

At the moment i am snowed under with paperwork for courses I am running for Adult Education and juggling my 4 year old and his friend whilst they settle into school.

This gives me 3.5 hours in the morning to either run a class or do paperwork. Trying to do work in the afternoons has proven to be too difficult! Sewing is way too hard...

So I am starting to feel withdrawal.... A slight anxiety about when I will be able to play around with fabrics and design a new quilt...

I have so many plans and it doesn't help that blog posts from other quilters land in my in box nearly everyday... I have quilters envy!

This week I ordered some lovely fabric from Fat Quarter Shop in the states:

I had the privilege of meeting Tula Pink at the Festival of quilts and her range of Prince Charming fabrics are the ones I chose for my Anything Goes Quilting Bee block:

I have also joined the Bloggers Choice Monthly club, so have a lovely surprise bundle of fabrics arriving in the next couple of weeks! So exciting!

This weekend is contact weekend, so I would normally have some quilt free, child free sewing time. But I have 2 days to Scouting training... First Aid on Saturday and Safeguarding on Sunday... then I can finally be invested as an Assistant Mini Scout leader and Cubs Leader..... my sewing plans are on hold again.....

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Taking an Online Class

A little while ago, Alison from Pollyanna Patchwork wrote a blog post about the crafting website Craftsy.

It is an amazing resource of classes for all sorts of crafts, including patchwork and quilting.  The site is very clean and easy to navigate, with loads of opportunities to learn something new.

There are plenty of patchwork classes for beginners to experienced quilters, so I was really excited to find it! But money over the summer is always really tight - higher childcare costs and no private lessons....

So I had to wait until I could have a go! Luckily the site offered a free class to try out. The class is Creative Quilt Backs by Elizabeth Hartman. I tried out the course and I was really impressed, the class is broken down into sections that are easy to navigate, you can ask questions as you go and you can upload images of your work so Elizabeth can give you feedback!

I have been slowly saving my pennies, because the class I really wanted to take is Angela Walters called Machine Quilting Negative Spaces. I have been a fan of Angela for quite a long time - she is really approachable on Twitter and her blog is fantastic.

So far I have managed to watch the first 4 sections of the class, each around 20 minutes. It has been fantastic. She gives you so much information, support and ideas. The class is really well filmed and clear.

The best thing so far is that Angela is really reassuring that it doesn't need to be perfect - it is your design and the aim isn't to be perfect quilters but to add texture and design to spaces of colour. That makes me happy, since my machine quilting is no where near perfect!

I am so impressed with the class and really glad I bought it. So if your considering a Craftsy Class I say go for it!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Missing a Great Opportunity...

At the start of the Summer I went for an interview at the Prema Arts centre in the gorgeous Gloucestershire village of Uley.

The arts centre is in an old chapel and full of history. It has a great work space, fantastic coffee provided by the lovely Adam and great courses...

So the time for my patchwork and quilting course is drawing near and there are not quite enough people signed up.. This makes me kinda sad...

It is a 10 week course to make a laptop quilt. We will how to use a rotary cutter, piece a design and how to machine/hand quilt your creation... All for £85 plus your materials..

Now, that works out at £8.50 for a 2 hour lesson in fantastic surroundings with great company, and of course a complete fabric and quilting addict as a teacher!

It doesn't get much better than that!

But people are not signing up.. Definately missing a great opportunity to make new friends and learn new skills!

If you live near, you need to sign up here!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Our Olympic Experience

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about our fabulous trip to London to see the city whilst the Olympics were on.

I had been lucky enough to get Tickets for the very last event at the Olympic Park for the Paralympics - 7 a side football.  As a family we were beyond excited. I really believe in giving the boys as many different opportunities as possible, so that see the world differently. We visit National Trust properties, we go for long walks up ancient Barrows and have as many adventures as I can afford.... The Olympics was no different, except it was a once in a life-time adventure...

Our day started very early - 5.45am to be precise - and we left at 6.40am to go to Swindon to get the train into Paddington. Luckily the boys were very excited so didn't mind being dragged out of bed so early!

It amazes me, but 3 hours door to door and we were stood outside the Olympic Park, barely able to stop smiling!

Here is Maxi confidently striding in! The Stadium is HUGE, and an amazing structure, all of the buildings a beautiful to look at.

The boys with a map to make sure we didn't get lost! We had a wandered round and had a little spend in the shop - Wenlocks were a must! Picnic lunch and then we went to meet Mandeville in the Mascot House:

The boys were simply overjoyed!

The Riverside Arena is a temporary structure, but amazing all the same! We watched Brazil play Iran, poor Brazil didn't get a look in as Iran went all out for Bronze.  Then it was Urkraine verses Russia for Gold/Silver. They were so evenly matched that Russia only managed a goal after 44 minutes, so Gold went to them.

Watching a medal ceremony made the end of the day complete!

Our return journey was smooth , but tiring and we hit home at 10pm!

The day was amazing in so many ways, but the ease of all the connections and organistion at the park was fantastic. The Games Makers were smiling, helpful and chatted to the boys all day. They stood doing high fives with them on the 30 minutes walk from the Arena to the entrance which made my job of making them walk after a long day much easier.

It was an amazing dayand I am extremely proud to have been part of it, and to be British!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Letting people down..

From justbeautifulthings £14.00

Earlier this week I had to let someone down... I hate letting people down...

I had booked a one-to-one teaching session with someone booked in, but then a local housing authority followed up a teaching request that clashed with the private lesson..

I love teaching one-to-ones. You get to know the person and you can pass on so many tips during the lesson. But they are just one offs.

The courses for the local authorities are 8/9 weeks long, at a good hourly rate and lead to more work....

So unfortunately I had to email the lady concerned and suggest another day... but she can't do it...

I do feel guilty, I do worry about letting her down.

But I have to think about the bigger picture. Each time I teach I get a phone call from another housing association saying they have heard about my teaching and would I run a course for them... it all adds up to a lot of varied and interesting work, but it does mean my schedule is packed out. Fitting in one-to-one lessons is quite hard.

This term I am teaching in Cheltenham on a Monday, Gloucester on a Tuesday, Tewksbury on a Wednesday and at home on a Thursday.. That is miles of driving and hours of prep, before I even start teaching....

I know it is the right decision, but I still worry about letting people down.....

Friday, 7 September 2012

Please bring me back my brain....

The last couple of days have been really strange..

Mini is loving school, OK so he has come home everyday saying he might feel sick tomorrow, but he has been excited about going. 

I had been so looking forward to them all starting back so I could have just a little bit of head space, but I have found it really strange. You know that feeling you get when you have put them to bed and you  spend 30 minutes watching the TV without registering what you are watching?

That has been me for 4 days... 4 days of kinda walking around in a cloud, not really knowing what do to.. Totally unexpected!

I have loads to do....

I got my last booking for this term, teaching in Tewksbury for 8 weeks. So in a couple of weeks I will be in Cheltenham on a Monday, Gloucester on a Tuesday and Tewksbury on a Wednesday, plus my private lessons here and patchwork classes in Uley at Prema Arts. All those sessions need planning and paperwork sorting out...

I have quilts to make - the plans are swimming around in my head - and quilting to practice...

But no.... I have kinda sat around in a daze, I haven't even used the child free time to do the housework!

This week has been exciting though. Sending out the bee fabric on Wednesday and getting the first block back today was amazing!

I need to find my brain sharpish though as I have 2 days teaching next week, after school clubs starting again and my role as new Cub leader starts Tuesday, not to mention mini scouts on Thursday...

Maybe a piece of cake would help....

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Running a Quilting Bee!

I have finally managed to get the quilting bee off the ground!

Septembers Block.

The first block has been designed and the fabrics have left to fly all over the country and to the USA.

I sooooooo excited to see the blocks coming back!

Each member will make my design and add in their own fabric. In a few weeks I will have all of the bookcase inspired blocks to be able to make my patchwork bookcase!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Today my world changes

Today my world changes forever...

My youngest, the baby of our little family starts school.

He is 4 1/2, 6 3/4 as he likes to tell me and a confident happy little boy.

Cheeky and mischievous in ways I never thought we possible, and totally gorgeous!

He has been going to nursery so I could run my business and teach for quite a while, but school is a big step... it changes everything... he will become more independent, more boisterous (not sure this is possible!) and more just a little bit further away from me....

He was just 10 months old when my marriage came to a abrupt end on New Years Day 2009. I will never forget holding him tight in my arms as I watched my life change forever, as his father packed his bags and did a little jig of joy as he walked away from his 3 boys and me.

We have been through so many adventures since then. We have camped.

Tried to not trash National Trust Houses, run through the woods.

Read books and snuggled down to watch films....

He is my little ginger fire rocket, with a huge heart and even more spirit.

I am so excited about his starting his next journey, all the discoveries he will make, the new skills he will learn, the world that will open up to him when he learns to read.... but I am also a bit sad to see him go...

This morning I will hold his hand and hold him close before letting him enter his new world, knowing I have helped him to be confident enough to step into the unknown with a grin on his gorgeous face!

Monday, 3 September 2012

I really need...

I really need fabric... I REALLY need some of the gorgeous fabric I have found on line.... I REALLY DO!

Here are some of the fabrics I REALLY NEED:

Lucy's Crab Shack from FreshModernFabric
I love all of the designs from Sweet Water. I have a small stash of Hometown hidden away, but I REALLY love collection. Got to count out my pennies....

This bundle from Eclectic Maker is gorgeous:

Parson Gray from Eclectic Maker
This group of fabrics is so chilled out that it is cool! I love it! The Eclectic Maker has so many gorgeous bundles to choose from.... (drifts off in fabric heaven)
Next is my favourite bundle from Alice at Backstitch. I love this combination she has put together...

Pacific Rim from Backstitch
Alice always put together gorgeous bundles of FQ to tempt me... the bank manager might think I live in the Backstitch shop....

The last one (for now!) is the new collection from Denyse Schmidt, Chicopee:

Chicopee from Fat Quarter Shop
This collection catches my eye more than Fairview collection. Fat Quarter Shop has an amazing collection of fabrics....

Looking at the my must haves for this week they are all along the same lines of colour....

What are you must haves?

I'd love to see....

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Getting inspiration..

Quilting along the Grain is a pretty new blog - it follows on from the end of funky diva designs, my bag making business - and as such I am still working into a groove.  It is taking a while to work my style and what I want to say...

FDD had a blog, but that was all about designing, making and selling bags. When a personal or quilt post crept in I always felt kinda guilty! This blog is the opposite, it is about creating, sharing tips and logging my growth as a quilter, mother and teacher..... but old habits are proving hard to break!

Yesterday whilst looking after a poorly mini monster I grabbed a mug of coffee and surfed some of my favourite blogs. They are mixture of quilt and sewing blogs, as you would expect! As I read through all of the latest posts and grew jealous at the fabric people have been buying, I came across Stitched in Color's older post about change.

At the end of last year Rachel shut her business and started on her quilting journey full time. Her blog is a fabulous riot of colour, insights into her life and absolutely amazing quilts! This blog post at the end of 2011 struck a cord.

She talks about the the changes she has made and about her blog and why she is driven to write it. Do you write for an audience or for you?

On my previous blog I wrote to show people my work and hopefully get sales. I kinda wrote for an audience - at least some of the time. This blog is not aimed at selling anything, it is just to share my journey, which is a shift from for an audience to writing for me.

That shift is huge!

It is hard shift to make, to be able to relax and just blog my own thoughts, achievements and creations is strangely stressful! Kinda like having the kids home all day and after they all tucked up in bed you find yourself still watching kids TV....

As you can see I am still working the balance out, and it may take quite a bit longer!

In the meantime, here is a my gorgeous bright new quilt:

Which was quickly stolen and used during lunch:
Pesky monsters!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Do as I say, not as I do!

On Tuesday during my class in Gloucester one of the learners bought along a length of stretch, leopard print material. She had been asked to make a skirt with it.....

During the first lesson a fortnight earlier she had been introduced to an electric machine for the first time, previously she had sewn using a hand crank. At home she had taken her new electric machine out of it's box and made her son some cushions for his flat. This had prompted her friend to ask for a skirt.

So we sat discussing the design, how to cut the fabric and how she wanted to construct the skirt. She planned everything on paper, including drawings of the finished skirt.  I had taken along this fabulous book:

It has everything a new sewer and experienced sewer needs to know about using a sewing machine!

She sat for 20 minutes reading the book, making notes and before I approached again to talk about getting started. I showed the page that explains needles and how you need different needles for different jobs - we are going to need stretch needles for this skirt. the next question was, what happens if you use the wrong needle?

I explained that the machine skips stitches, puckers and generally gets upset. I talked about leather needles, using size 90 for sewing PUL...

Then it dawned on me - I hadn't been using my own advice. When I had attempted machine applique, free motion quilting and machine embroidery I had always left the same old needle in. Just any old needle... but my tension never seems right, the machine missed stitches...

When I was researching Aurifil threads, it said that 50/2 needed a Top Stitch Needle for quilting. I bought some and they have solved all of my problems when doing any kind of quilting or applique!

If I had used my own advice I could have saved myself a whole lot of frustration and started machine quilting a very long time ago!