Urban inspiration (….aaaaaaaaaand we’re back)

For a short time – during my teenage years – I had a video-game addiction.  Tetris was my game of choice (we’re talking early 90’s here..) and I would spend hours on my brother’s computer, playing till my eyes were sore and I was too jittery to sit down any longer. Simple chores like putting away the laudry or washing the dishes would trigger a “Tetris view” and the forks would look as if they had started rotating to fit the gap left between two spoons.  A fascinating adventure into the human brain and its visualising powers, if you ask me. A worryingly fine line between teenager idiocy and real mental health issues, if you ask my parents. But I digress.

Making quilts, just like a lot of other good things in life, like singing, dancing, working out, cooking and painting,  gets easier (and possibly better) with practice. Also, like in my anthropological Tetris experiment (sic), the more I create quilts the more I “see in quilts”.

Here below are a few examples of things that triggered a Tetris-Quilt reaction…(to the point that I even took pictures… how committed of me, right??)

Sometimes it’s the colours (clearly in my Lilac/Green Period as you can see..)

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(flower arrangement, Marriot Hotel Cardiff)

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(Tea room at the Soho Hotel, London)

sometimes it’s the modern feel, the geometry, the use of space and shapes

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(leisure centre, Southwark)

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 (block of flats, Berlin)

here, my attention was caught by the second building from the right – such a modern, ready-to-cut quilt with a bit of a Jacquie Gering feeling to it…I immediately started listing the fabric requirements in my head!

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(view from the Tate Gallery, London – very small picture taken from a freezing crowded terrace.. hail to the heroic photographer-who obviously wasn’t me!)

or the atmosphere…

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(fog in Canary Wharf, London)

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(sunny winter day in Cagliari, Italy)

I live in a big city and nature is not exactly predominant here, but who said urban landscapes and city-life situations can’t be inspiring?

 

 

Santa’s little helper

Christmas has the annoying habit of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. I mean, I know it comes every year at the same time, it’s just that I always feel like the jolly festivity must be hiding under the bed for ages biding its time until one day, without notice, it jumps out screaming “HAAAAA! WHERE ARE THE PRESENTS FOR YOUR FRIENDS/PARENTS/SIBLINGS/OTHER HALF/COLLEAGUES/MILKMAN/CAT/ANNOYING RELATIVE THAT YOU WILL BE FORCED TO HAVE LUNCH WITH BECAUSE OH-C’MON-IT’S CHRISTMAS?? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ALL YEAR?? UH? UH??”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I actually love Christmas. I love the cold and the occasional snow here in the UK (where I come from it never snows and the closest thing to a fir tree is a palm tree…) I love the cheesy music in the shops and the smiling carol singers, I love Christmas trees and all sorts of decorations (okay, maybe not the cheap OTT ones that make an otherwise normal house look like it’s been taken hostage by a swarm of lightning bugs on coke..) I love the silly Christmas drinks that pop up in all the coffee shops mid-November and that take 15 minutes to order (“can I have a grande eggnog/gingerbread/toffee/orange/cherry mocha flat decaf to take away please?” [breathes] “with whipped cream, please” [...aaaand relax]) I love.. ok, you get the picture.

This year, just as every other year in the last (quite a few) years, I decided I was going to be smarter. “A-ha! I’m going to start buying a few presents in advance and the remaining ones will be handmade things which won’t take too long to make.” Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Smarter. NOT.

So, I spent the last month finishing a pretty large wall-hanging (more on that in the next posts, watch this space), making coasters, make-up bags and place-mats for my lovely customers and now, less then a fortnight from my flight back home, I still have place-mats, a handbag, make-up bags, tissue-holders, coasters and theoretically a mini wall-hanger on my to-do list. Oh, did I mention I also accidentally have a daytime job?

I was too busy making things to remember to take pictures (read: I’m getting more and more self-conscious of my appalling photography skills) but here’s some evidence that I was in fact producing things and not just drinking cinnamon lattes..

Place-mats in the making
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Make-up bags (picture and hands belong to HappyCustomer Ildi)

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Happy holidays everyone! :)

In between quilts…and a bit of tv

Sunday, productive Sunday.

I spent 5 hours blanket stitching the appliques on my new project and now I feel like I should search the web for a pair of brand new shoulders – mine are officially rubbish bin-material… 

The project I’m working on cannot be disclosed yet, as the lucky owner-to-be does not know what she’s getting – which means the pics will be posted in a couple of weeks :)

In the meantime I finished the lovely Kaffe Fasset bedspread I blogged about some time ago.. the centre is very simply quilted for added softness and cosiness, whilst the quilting on the border follows the paisley pattern and the flowers – I had a lot of fun doing it!

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It’s so lovely and warm that I upgraded it from passive bedspread to Downton Abbey marathon sofa throw – a task that requires clench-resistance and snack-survival qualities that not all throws have these days…

And if you are D.A. fans, have a look at theMakower fabric range inspired by the tv series, I think it perfectly renders the Crowley girls spirit.. I’m thinking of getting the Dowager selection – I usually don’t go for dusty colours but these mauve shades are soooo cool and they would look nice in my living room… or maybe it is just because I find Maggie Smith’s character irresistible… She really brings shrewdness to a whole new level, don’t you think?

Better late than never…the Knitting and Stitching Show

I know we’re already thinking of next year but I’ve been very busy and hadn’t had the time to retrieve the pictures yet… (and by now I think it’s pretty clear that my relationship with photography is a love-hate one..)

As every autumn, once again this year Twisted Thread gave us the Knitting and Stitching show. Ally Pally is beautiful and spacious  and the organisation is more  flawless every year. This edition saw the introduction of the late opening. Be it because not too many people knew about it or because most of the ladies  didn’t want to wait until the afternoon to start shopping :) but when I got there around 3 pm the Great Hall was virtually empty…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am as happy as the next quilter every time I’m given the chance to spend a fortune on fabric and a less than crowded market means one doesn’t have to fight over a fat quarter, but I must say I missed the buzz and the occasional chat over a new collection or a pretty pattern :)

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The number of exhibitors was impressive as expected, “usual suspects” and new shops creating an interesting mix of styles and products.

Cheerful bunting by the Eternal Maker stall

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And check this one out for colours!

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This is Odile Bailloeul’s stall, what a lovely display! It was a pity I couldn’t take a full picture of her, her clothes and jewellery were also really cool!

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Another nice surprise was Little Laura’s Haberdashery, the guys are absolutely lovely and their felt selection is impressive – not to mention very reasonably priced! The picture was taken for a friend who needed to buy some felt, so not very representative of their pretty display, sorry!

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The pit-stop at Mr Rosenberg’s family-run stall was lovely as usual, and after much choosing and chatting my purse was remarkably lighter and my bags remarkably heavier….erm..

This is one of the jerseys I bought, I’m going to make myself a pretty drapey cardi using the  pattern  from Wendy Ward’s MIY collection :) (pictures from the web, the actual fabric is in my washing machine being prepared prior to cutting..)

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If you live in London, the Rosemberg’s shop in Wansted, Stitch, is worth a visit  (here’s their website)

The icing on the (already scrumptious) cake was this exhibition I only noticed on my way out, when no life was left in my debit card and my feet were begging for mercy..

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The pictures don’t give this AMAZING quilt enough justice, the whole thing was just jaw-droppingly beautiful, take a look at the stunning stitchwork

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That’s all for this year, I promise I’ll be less clumsy with my camera by the next big event ;)

It’s teatime!

It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m in my studio with a cup of tea and a tray of coasters fresh from the oven ;) well, not literally…

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When it comes to coasters, I like diversity… mix&match is in fact a bit of a rule in my kitchen, in more ways than one..!

Here below is a selection of Trudi Design Coasters for Christmas – I know they’re not christmassy but the plan would be to have these guys out all year round :)

Size is 3×3″ and the base is wooden which makes them nice and “natural”.

Batik elements

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Krazy Kats (you can’t have one without the other….)

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Savanna

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Nightingale

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Blue bubbles

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Russian charme

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So, which ones are you getting? :)

P.S. Something needs to be done about my camera… cleaning the lens, maybe?!

Quick and easy make up bags

Today I took a break from quilting the bedspread and/or working on at least one of the new projects I have in the pipeline – ah, the sweet art of procrastination!..

Quick projects are fun to make, and these little things are going to be very useful! :)

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The “big sister”on the left will end up in my suitcase, it can easily contain toiletries and make up for a week or two.

It was made with a pre-quilted fabric that I bought on a whim for its really funky colours.

I’m usually not a fan of pre-quilted fabrics, but cutting and sewing the bag in less than one hour really has no price! Plus, no lining, interfacing or interlining were harmed in the making of the bag.

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The little one was made with one of my favourite Ikea fabrics and a lovely japanese-inspired cotton fabric for the lining. Fusible fleece for a bit of structure, a chunky zipper and voila’, if you use a serger – as I did – the whole thing is also done in less than two hours.

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I made the pull tabs with the same fabric I used for the lining:

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As you can see, the brown bag is small enough to go in pretty much any “normal” handbag – and by normal I mean any handbag that can contain an umbrella, a book AND a kindle, a “just in case” cardigan/scarf/top, a small bottle of water, a granola bar, tissues, lipsticks, blusher, mascara, nail varnish, a purse, a coin purse, some random letters/bills, a phone that weighs like a kitten and all the indispensable things we girls always carry around…

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All in all, not too bad for a lazy Sunday afternoon!

Quilt in a day (more or less…)

A couple of years ago I bought a fantastic kit for a bedspread from Tikki Patchwork  (lovely fabrics in a lovely area from lovely shop-owners… :) )

Needless to say, after I started the wannabe-speedy quilt, life (and other projects..) got in the way and the half-assembled top was sent to hibernate in a box for almost 2 years.

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I’m now trying to clear some space -both in my flat and in my head! – to make room for new projects so my autumn resolution is to finish all the pending /unfinished/”artistic license”-d  quilts I’ve stacked in my sewing corner in…far too long to confess!

Last Sunday I finally added the outer border to the top and then sat down with a cup of tea to think about my options for the backing.

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Initially, this was supposed to be a low-ish budget project – the fabrics, all Kaffe Fasset and Rowan, were quite expensive and I didn’t want to invest more money in the bedspread than in the actual bed…! so last week I bought a bed sheet in a lovely shade of pomegranate red for the backing (£9 on a trusted online shop, cotton mix and most importantly colourfast).

The more I looked at the sheet, so plain and “all-red” close to the vibrant quilt top, the less I wanted to have a solid colour backing! I then remembered a modern/improvised quilt from Elizabeth Hartman which she teaches in her Craftsy course on modern quilts. I thought the quilt was very pretty and I like Elizabeth’s style very much, everything about her quilts is so neat and fresh, that I thought “this is my chance to go Hartman!”

As the leftovers from the quilt top were in fact pre-assembled strips, I didn’t do a proper improvised piecing, as in Elizabeth’s quilt, but I still wanted to reproduce the pods, so after slicing the bed sheet in a bit of an Edward-Scissorhand-on-redbull fashion, I assembled the whole thing and… here’s my red feast all ready for sandwiching :)

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The technique for the quilt top is shown and explained in this book from Eleanor Burns. I really like the Quilt in a Day technique, it’s surprisingly quick and easy and the results are stunning!

I am also quite pleased with the backing, and I am now impatient to sandwich it and start quilting it with an overall design – I might need another inspirational cup of tea first…!

Friday shopping

Be it that Friday is a slow day in the office or that it’s still quite nice and mild here in London, I was getting a tad impatient to leave today so I treated myself to a bit of online shopping to help the time go by more quickly.

I bought this book, 1950s Fashion Prints  by Marnie Fogg.

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I love the pictures and when I see prints like these I can’t wait to start a new project – with paper and crayons if not with fabric yet..

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There is a very modern feeling to these prints, and something “scandinavian” and neat that makes my artistic juices flow.Layout 1

The book should be dispatched in a week or so, I’ll post more about it when I get it.

For now, I’m putting rollers in my hair and tying a bow in my frilly apron, Betty Draper watch and learn!