Finding joy in the little things

It is a bit of an overused phrase sometimes but it has been very comforting to me to be able to go for walks and see that the world is still there, that things are still happening as normal.

As the weather has now been so lovely I have been going for a walk after work on a few days this week and have really enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers everywhere and the cute little lambs.

Sheep 2

Sheep 3

Sheep 1

I know I have said this many times before but I am so thankful that I live here, it is my own mini Lake District at the top of the road and it only takes about ten minutes, even at my slow pace, for me to be here.

Butterley April 1

Butterley April 2

These pictures were taken at about 6pm last night, this is such a wonderful calming sight, it really is gorgeous here. This is the first of four reservoirs and I hoping to go on a longer walk in a while when the rhododendrons are in bloom as there are some beautiful ones along the second of these reservoirs.

It has been a tough week emotionally. I am personally fine, thanks to my wonderful friends I have company through the weekly Zoom version of Wool and Wine, and also met up with my work colleagues for a very lovely Zoom catch up last Saturday. My brilliant friend Sharon has just been to get my shopping from a click and collect some miles from here, as I have not been able to get an online delivery slot at all.

What has been tough is worrying about my students, having phone calls and Zoom tutorials with young people who are confused and worried, and in some cases trying to cope with a huge range of challenges and uncertainties. I have been a teacher for 33 years now, and have had difficult times before but this is the hardest ever as I just don’t know what to say to them. I know all teachers feel the same, my sister, who is a primary school teacher is so worried about her pupils as well.

That is why it is so important to have somewhere to go and free your mind of worries. It has also been good for me to go out more as being sat down all day makes the arthritis worse and I have been in a lot of pain this last week.

I have been enjoying some alternative crafting entertainment as well with the lovely Amy from Almond Rock. I discovered her Instagram a while ago and she has held an Instagram live with a sewing quiz and last night it was a You Tube live with sewing Pictionary with her sewing buddy Marie. That was great fun and I did really well, scoring a lot more that in the quiz.

I have also been really enjoying the last bit of my Royal fashion course, looking at theΒ  Windsors. One of the things I loved about watching The Crown recently was seeing all the gorgeous costumes.Picture below from Google.

Princess-Margaret costume

I loved Princess Margaret’s costumes and hairstyles and the series was so well done in terms of the way that they matched the actors to the characters, they looked so realistic. I would love to visit a costume exhibition from that series as well if I could one day. I have been lucky enough to see exhibitions from Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall, Victoria and Gentleman Jack over the years.

I have also been continuing with the Riley Blake Block Challenge, this week it has been the Economy Block, or Square in a Square, which is a very quick and easy block to do. I used this tutorial from Diary of a Quilter.

I think that the purple one may just be my favourite so far, I love these prints together and I am very pleased with the matching of the points on this one, the other one is not as good but will be ok at a distance πŸ™‚

Economy Blocks 1

Economy Blocks 2

Economy Blocks 3

I could not resist starting a new project last week after blogging about the camper van ideas so I put this together and have been happily stitching round it whilst watching The White Queen on Amazon. The free tutorial is available from Flamingo Toes here.

Retro camper 1

Next week is officially the last week of term so after that it is an intensive period of marking, and finishing the re-write of the doctorate. Fingers crossed the weather will stay lovely so that I can have lots more peaceful walks.

I hope that you are your family are all ok, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Armchair travel

Regular readers will know that my two biggest passions in life are crafting and travel. In a normal year I am lucky enough to have at least three holidays, mostly to Spain, but also to lovely places in the UK and lots of weekends away at re-enactment events, Steampunk and WW2 events and visiting places of interest that usually involve museums, historic houses and textiles in some form.

Obviously that is not possible at the moment and won’t be for the foreseeable future so I have been finding ways of satisfying my travel urges via the miracles of the internet. I have been watching many different ‘van life’ videos for a number of years now, partly as fact finding as I am hoping to learn to drive and buy my own little camper van in the future. However I just love watching the beautiful places that people travel to and have been watching some wonderful ones recently while sewing.

Tread the Globe are the couple who I have been following for a few years on You Tube and I am taking the opportunity to watch lots of videos that I have not seen before. They are currently in lockdown in Turkey as they arrived there just at the start of the pandemic but have been posting regularly and are coping well.They also have a very informative blog here which not only gives details of the trips but also of how much it costs them to travel which is very useful information.

Before that they had been visiting some beautiful places in France and Spain so I have been watching that to get some ideas for more places to go in future years. They recently visited Taragonna which has been on my wish list for a while as it looks so beautiful. Picture from Google.

Tarragona

I have been collecting ideas for camper van themed decor as well so that when I eventually do get my van I can decorate it. I have been very inspired by my sister who has just bought her fourth van. We went away last October in it and that really motivated me again as we had such a brilliant time. As I mentioned then I made her a VW camper van cushion some years ago and have been looking at other things to make for me as well.

I love this camper van quilt pattern by Amy Bradley designs, (picture from her site), especially the little people that the design comes with.

Camper Quilt Pattern 1

I think the camper vans are so cute and love the retro feel of this. We had many very happy holidays in larger static vans when we were children and I just love caravans of all shapes and sizes.

I found this one during one of my searches, this is a self drafted pattern using inspiration from the many different pictures of camper vans out there and I love the use of all kinds of different fabrics.

Caravan Quilt

This is from A Little Craft , (picture also from her site), and she makes all sorts of beautiful quilts in New Zealand. One day my sister and I are hoping to take a camper van tour of New Zealand when we are both retired, that would just be magical.

I have just found another version as well, this is much larger and has a tutorial with it as well and free templates for the caravan as well as a pattern you can buy for the quilt. It is by the Missouri Star Quilt Company and I have used their tutorials before.

Cute Camper quilt

I have also had this cute stitched version on to do list for a very long as well, it comes from the Flamingo Toes blog and has a detailed tutorial and a free pattern.It is machine embroidered which I am not very confident about doing but it may be a good chance to improve those skills like I have done my quilting ones.

Retro-Camper-Embroidery-Hoop-Art

There is also this very lovely camper van pot holder which is a free pattern from the Sewing for Free site here. Not only cute but a very useful make.

happy-camper-pot-holders

So I shall be keeping myself entertained with virtual travel for the moment, there are so many great tours of museums and exhibitions available at the moment as well which is interesting and can give me lots of ideas for places to go when I am retired. If all goes well I will be starting that process a year from now which is very exciting πŸ™‚ and keeps me inspired.

I hope that you have had a good weekend, some of it has been a bit dull, wet and cold here, so I have been snuggling up in the fleecy blanket making the most of a quiet weekend and watching The White Queen on Amazon. I hope everything is ok with you and your families, stay safe, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

 

A thing of beauty

I have recently re-subscribed to Today’s Quilter magazine, this was actually pre- pandemic and it has been lovely to have the delivery every month, plus some useful free gifts like templates.I had stopped as I seemed to have a lot of quilt magazines already but I will pass them on once the charity shops re-open so someone else can share the love.

April Quilt Mag

This month’s magazine had a special feature and a pattern by Sarah Fielke and when I looked at the picture of an amazing Liberty log cabin quilt I remembered that I had bought the book a while ago. I met Sarah when she was doing a European tour in July 2016, on my son’s graduation day actually, and ordered the book straight after that.

Sarah Fielke Book 1

The book, Old Quilts, New Life,Β  is a wonderful combination of a history of quilting book and interpretations of the quilts. There is a reproduction version and an interpretation one for each ofΒ  9 quilts from the American Folk Art Museum.Below are some of my favourites and I love the different interpretations like the two colour one that just uses one of the flower motifs from the older quilt.

The quilt that I spotted in the magazine is called Liberty Belle and it has to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I finished another Liberty log cabin last weekend and so I now have two of these blocks.

Sarah Fielke Book 2

I was thinking that I might just put them with all of the other Liberty blocks but now that I have seen this I might be tempted to just do a quilt of all Liberty log cabins as it is so gorgeous.The nice thing about using Liberty is all of the fabrics look so good together.

Liberty log cabin final 1

These blocks are very different to the other blocks that I have made as there is no white in them so I was wondering if they would go. We shall see, it would mean I have to purchase some more Liberty, (oh dear πŸ™‚Β  ) ,as I have run out of longer pieces for the outer borders. However I may have a lot more time on my hands this summer and at least this keeps me amused as the blocks take me such a long time to complete.

Liberty log cabin final 2

I have found a new supplier of Liberty as well from the quilt magazine. Not that I really need a new supplier but I love the web site for Duck Egg Threads Β as it has such a fab design. I have so much Liberty that I don’t know the name of each fabric but this site has them organised by colour and names them so you can easily order the colour you need.

Duck Egg Threads site

I think I am going to have to order some from them just to thank them for that as a resource for us Liberty fans.They also have a Liberty monthly fabric club that they will be re-starting once they can do deliveries again so I might just have to subscribe to support a small business!

I have also made this week’s Riley Blake Block Challenge blocks, two Friendship Star blocks using this very useful tutorial, which shows you how to make them in multiple sizes. These are very quick to do and I am very pleased with the matching of the seams on these. I am clearly getting better at this compared to the last block challenge that we did five years ago where points and seams were all over the place!

Friendship Star block 1

Friendship Star block 4

Next week’s block is the Economy Block so I am going to make two of those as well.I am officially back at work now, (that just means sitting on the sofa with my computer rather than my needlework box!), as no-one is going anywhere soon in the UK unless they need to.

However, I am finishing work at 4pm each day, taking advantage of the lack of travel time which means I can start earlier, so am having a few hours of sewing each day which is lovely. I do miss my colleagues but realistically we would have been finishing term anyway in the next couple of weeks so life is not that different for me at the moment anyway.

In that respect I am very lucky as working from home is a peaceful activity unlike many of my colleagues who are trying to do it while homeschooling children, sharing workspace with partners and being interrupted by cats and dogs who wonder why their humans are suddenly around all of the time.

I hope you and your family are all ok, stay safe, take care and thanks for visiting. It is lovely to see my visitor stats each week and to have so many more people following me now. I am feeling very loved so thank you πŸ™‚

 

 

 

Spring has sprung

I hope that you have all had a lovely weekend, the weather here has been very good, up until last night when it rained and now it is a little cooler and more like normal Yorkshire Spring πŸ™‚ But the shed is looking very good, everything has been weeded and I am eagerly awaiting my delivery of bedding plants for my hanging baskets.

I went for a very nice walk on Sunday, to my favourite place here, the first of four reservoirs in the valley at the top of my road. I still can’t believe I am lucky enough to have this 10 minutes away and yesterday I walked around the other side of it. It will a lovely place for solo picnics in the summer.

butterley-1

I met some friends walking their dog on the way back and they commented that they were exploring places they had never been in the 18 years they had lived here. One very good thing that will come out of this is more people realising what is in their communities, be it open spaces, smaller businesses etc. and I hope that appreciation this will continue when things are back to ‘normal’.

I am loving having a milk delivery, something I was planning to organise after my holiday anyway to cut down on my use of plastic, and this week there was the great excitement of them delivering eggs, orange juice and yogurts as well!

Saturday was especially lovely, lots of the neighbours were outside enjoying the weather. I do love living in a terrace, we have an open back lane so you get a real sense of community and get to chat with everyone, from a safe distance of course. Saturday evening saw lots of people sitting outside their houses having a drink, like some kind of bizarre party where nobody wants to mingle with everyone about 20 feet away, waving to each other.

Although I can’t travel the Barbies have been busy, as being plastic they are immune from any nasty bugs πŸ™‚ Sophie enjoyed visiting some beautiful gardens in her new Spring dress. This is made from a shirt that I picked up from the charity shop just to re-purpose the fabric as I thought it was so pretty.

Barbie Spring Dress 5

Barbie Spring Dress 6

I used the same bodice pattern that I have used for the evening gowns I showed you previously, but made a pattern for a fuller skirt. This ended up being 3 rather than two panels to accommodate the back opening.

Barbie Spring Dress 2

Barbie Spring Dress 8

Barbie Spring Dress 7

I inter lined the bodice with some white cotton, I was going to do the same with the skirt but it became too bulky when gathered. One of the things that I am learning is how fine the fabric has to be for these very small scale dresses, anything thick just does not work with such tiny seams.

Barbie Spring Dress 4

Barbie Spring Dress 3

I used the tie that was on the original shirt and sewed the ric rac on it before sewing it on to the dress at the waistline. I love the contrast of the ric rac and ribbon colours here and am very pleased with my adaptation of the pattern.

Barbie Spring Dress 9

Lucinda wore her newest evening gown on a recent holiday to Italy.

Barbie - cream dress 2

This cream fabric is one of the oldest in my stash, it is scraps that came from a dress and head dress that I made for Ellen about 15 years ago.Β  I have had the beads about the same amount of time as well as I remember using them on cross stitch Christmas cards that I used to make pre- blog.The turquoise fabric is from an old blouse of mine as well.

Barbie - cream dress 3

Barbie - cream dress 1

This was all in the days before digital cameras so don’t have many pictures of those previous makes but I did realise that I have a photo of the outfit framed and on my wall so here is a picture of my very lovely children all dressed up at a banquet many years ago.

Re-enactment circa 2005

They are with their friend Lil, who is looking equally lovely. I made Ellen a green velvet over dress to go with the under dress, both of which you can see in this picture under the cloak. The head dress was embroidered and beaded over the flower motif on the fabric. Jake’s outfit was made from green brocade and the velvet hose came from a friend, I think it is the same fabric that Lil’s overdress is made from as well.

Over the years I made so many outfits for the children, most that are long gone as we gave them to others when they grew out of them and pre-blog so of course there are so few pictures of them. We are so lucky now to have so many of us in kit, taken by us and lots of other lovely people who share them on Facebook.

So today is another holiday, I seem to have been on holiday here forever which is great, I am liking these Groundhog Days where I get to sew all day πŸ™‚ Plans for today are some more Barbie dress making while watching the White Queen and the latest fashion competition with Heidi Klum, Making the Cut. I am, of course like the rest of the country, eagerly awaiting the new series of The Sewing Bee which starts late April!

Tomorrow is a new week for both the block challenge where we will be doing Friendship Blocks, and the fashion course.We are moving onto the Victorians this week, an era that I love and have done lots of research/drooling over for Steampunk.

I hope you and your families are all ok and you are all managing to find things to occupy yourselves. This will be a year in which we have never had such tidy gardens, decorated houses and clean cars judging by all the activity in my neighborhood. Stay safe, take care and thanks for visiting.

Be careful what you wish for …..

I mentioned to a colleague recently that a few weeks ago, before all of ‘this’ I came home late one night, cold and wet after waiting a long time for a bus that never arrived, tired and aching. I remember thinking at the time ‘I wish I could just stay here, not have to go out to work, just stay here and enjoy myself at home.’

So…. not that I think I caused this pandemic whole lock down thing but I did get my wish didn’t I? I have only left the house a few times since then for short walks and although it would be nice to be able to go somewhere I am enjoying the novelty of being in my house on leave.

I am usually away when I have leave so I have not spent this long in the house ever but am making the most of the enforced staycation. As I mentioned in the previous posts I am trying to get a good mix of sewing, reading, study on my online course and practical tasks done while I have the time.

My house has never been so clean and the garden has been done, I am just waiting for delivery of some bedding plants for my baskets, and today I painted the shed. I also got the garden table out in honour of what looks like a wonderful Bank Holiday ahead. Of course if we had been going to do a re-enactment event it would have been howling gales and packing up wet tents so we will all enjoy the fact that we are not doing that!

This week has been all about the Riley Blake block challenge for my sewing room time with a record five blocks completed up until today! You can see lots of lovely blocks over on their Instagram as we are now on Week 2. I have been using the Liberty stash as I want to add to my existing blocks, am going to eventually make these into a bed quilt.

The churn dash ones I was confident with and I am happy how they have turned out. I am using the same white on white print for most of these blocks, until it runs out, as I love the contrast between that and the Liberty.

Liberty churn dash block 3

This second block is the log cabin, a block I have never done before. Partly as I am not good at straight seams but I am pretty happy with the way that these have turned out. I used a tutorial from Citrus and Mint with very helpful diagrams.

Liberty log cabin blocks 1

I found it easier to cut 1.25″ wide strips from my length of fabric then cut them to size as I needed them as when doing the first block found that some of the pre-cut sizes that I had done were a little small.

The first two I used the white on white as a contrast row and then I did a more traditional layout with just three fabrics.The seams are not too wonky which is good!

Liberty log cabin blocks 7

Liberty log cabin blocks 8

Liberty log cabin blocks 9

I will make one more of these tomorrow, I am a little restricted for this type of block from Liberty as most of my stash is 5″ squares and the outer strips are around 6″ but do have a couple of pieces of longer fabric.My pin board for completed blocks is now looking very lovely πŸ™‚

Board with Liberty blocks

I am looking forward to next week’s block and to moving on to the next week of the fashion course. We have been looking at the Georgians this week, the embroidery on the men’s coats is amazing and I have been lucky enough to see lots of examples of these in museums, we saw some gorgeous examples on our recent trip to Liverpool. That was the weekend of the dreadful Storm Ciara, we really are having a challenging 2020 aren’t we?

I have recently discovered another historical costumer through You Tube and she does the most amazing Georgian garments. Go and have a look at the wonderful things on Sewstine’s blog, she writes really detailed step by step posts about her constructions and makes the most wonderful things. This is a reconstruction of a 1780s gown and she digitised all of the embroidery herself, made the gown and had a baby in the middle of all of this process, what a superwoman! Picture from her blog.

Georgian dress

So over the weekend I have plans for some more Liberty blocks, more Barbie dresses, another coat of paint on the shed and probably a walk. I am back at work on Tuesday so am going to really enjoy this extended time in the house. We are probably going to be on lock down for another four weeks or so and that gives me plenty of time for sewing.

I hope all is good with you and your families, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Other things to keep me occupied

Hope you are all coping with lockdown, self isolation or still going to work if you are a key worker, if you are a million thanks for all that you are doing. All have their own stresses, and it is important that we find ways to stay occupied or stress free. Not that I really need any more projects but I find having some structure to what you are doing helps with what can otherwise be a week that just blurs into doing the same thing every day and it is also important that I don’t spend too much time staring at a screen.

I am officially back at work tomorrow but my lovely employer has given us extra days off over Easter as we have had a pretty manic couple of weeks so will only be working for two days this coming week. That and the fact that I am probably not going to need all of my leave this summer means that I am going to have the joy of having a long weekend on quite a few of the coming weeks.

It seems a little bizarre that I spent all of the first term working six days a week and teaching so many Saturdays and I am now working so much less. It is very nice though, I am looking forward to some more little walks like the very lovely one I had today, keeping up with my online learning and other projects.

One of these is going to be the Riley Blake Quilt Block Challenge. Many years ago I did a short quilt block challenge with some friends from my knitting group and although I found some of the blocks difficult I enjoyed the participation. I found out about this challenge from Amy at Diary of a Quilter and she is doing the first block, one of my all-time favourites, the Churn Dash.

I made several scrappy churn dash blocks a few years ago from this tutorial from Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts. I love using up tiny bits of Liberty like this. I think that I will use my Liberty stash for this challenge as well as I would like some cohesiveness to all of the blocks, but not make them scrappy as I am not sure that would work for all the designs.

Scrappy Churn Dash 1

Scrappy Churn Dash 2

Scrappy Churn Dash 3

Scrappy Churn Dash 4

I am not sure who else is participating as regards the designers for each block but you can find information on the Riley Blake Instagram. Since I now have an Instagram account I can join in and even use hashtags! This lockdown business is improving my IT skills no end, I have learnt to use Zoom, downloaded Skype though not yet used it, (a little late to the party I know), but my Mum uses it so am hoping I can chat to her more using it as well.

I have also discovered that I can get jigsaw puzzles on my I Pad which has made me very excited πŸ™‚Β  I have a couple of puzzles that I bought from the charity shop just as we began working from home before lockdown and am also hoping to win an auction for some from Ebay this week. I love jigsaws and always do them when on holiday in Spain so having them here makes me feel more like I am on holiday. Now I have unlimited jigsaws and am especially happy with the ones of beautiful places from around the world. I may not be able to travel for the next few months but I can still look at lovely places.

So I have a busy week ahead planned. It is week three of my fashion history course and we are going to be looking at Georgian fashion. I have enjoyed looking at Stuart fashion this week, I always love the lace in these outfits as in this one dated 1610. Picture from Google search.

stuartfashion1

Take care whatever you are doing, have a good week ahead, stay safe and I will see you all again soon.

 

 

Self – isolation stash building

Now as you probably realise I don’t actually need any more fabric, ever, really but in the spirit of supporting small businesses and the joy of having the postman deliver lovely things I have been adding a little bit to my stash.

I am not ill but just not leaving the house for a long time apart from the occasional short walk if the weather warms up. I always react badly to any type of infection and it aggravates my arthritis so I am in for the duration. Thankfully I have managed to get online delivery of all food and other essentials as well as fabric πŸ™‚

A girl can never have too much Liberty can she? I think the original phrase is something like too many shoes, or diamonds, or something pretty useless when you have not left the house at all for a week. But stash, especially in the form of fabric gorgeousness, is just what you need in times like this. Beautiful and useful.

These lovely sets come from On Liberty Street on Ebay, a new seller to me but one that I will be using again.I hard a hard time choosing but went with my favourite colours in the end. These are 5 inch squares so will be good for doll making and quilt blocks.

March Ebay stash 3

March Ebay stash 4

I am thinking that this gorgeous rainbow set might be a nice addition in the future.Picture from the shop site.

Liberty Rainbow

I also bought some pastel cottons from Snowflakes and Strawberries on Ebay as I am actually running out of some quilting cotton colours. These are 10 inch squares.

March Ebay stash 2

I couldn’t resist buying some of the laces, ribbons, pretty binding and ric rac in this shop either, especially as the ric rac is a small enough scale to use for doll dresses.

March Ebay stash 1

I am going to pair these flowery ribbons in the bottom of the picture and the matching ric rac with some white fabric from my stash for Barbie dresses that I am planning to make a start on today. Having now worked out the fitting for the top of the evening dress pattern I have decided that this design would look lovely with a fuller skirt as a summer dress.

The third of the evening dresses is just about finished, I am just waiting for a delivery of press studs as I have actually run out of them. One of my lovely readers commented about possibly making a Tudor Barbie dress after reading my last post which sent me down a whole new Pinterest rabbit hole that I will blog about later. I had not really considered that people were doing this, though I have seen the Mattel historically inspired dolls, but yes historical costumes for Barbie is a thing and it is gorgeous to behold.

I now have even more new projects to consider which is diverting me somewhat from my progress through the WIPs. I am going to have to try and be very, very strict with myself over the next few months. I am thinking one finish of an old project a week before I am allowed anything new sounds reasonable.

I am going to be working from home until probably late summer at the earliest, we may meet up for some of the admin tasks in June but we are working on the basis that it is all being done remotely so for me that means 2 extra hours in a work day that I would normally have spent commuting. That and the fact that I keep waking up at six is giving me lots more hours in a day. I really, really wish we were not in this situation at all but it helps to look at the positives and at least I have plenty to do.

I hope that you are all staying safe, take care and thanks for visiting, it is the virtual contact that I am having with blogging and Facebook friends and the You Tubers that I watch that is helping me feel positive about this awful situation so I really appreciate it.