Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas 2012

Well it is here - Christmas is upon us with all the joy, wrapping, baking, sharing, laughing and fun that it brings.
I have had just one unexpected gift this year so far and I was ready with my wrapped Skinny Latte mug rug under the tree. 
There are still two more so any last minute treats I receive will also get a little gift from me.  It is the first year I have done this and I can't quite believe the amount of work is has saved me.  Normally I would be rushing around (well if the traffic would let me rush) frantically thinking, spending, queuing for a reciprocating gift - but not this year. 
If you still haven't got a couple of last minute gifts ready then visit my pattern shop and check out one of the many mug rug patterns.  They are quick and easy to put together and what is even better ...... you already have all the necessary fabrics to hand because many of them use scraps.  You might even find yourself unwinding with the whir of the sewing machine and the rhythm of the stitches.

Which brings me nicely onto a future series I will be starting in 2013 - Sew I See - it will be a chatty series discussing the way we use sewing to help us cope in our oh-so-busy lives.   So please come back and join me for a chat - we can share experiences and make friends over some philosophical fabric fun.

And whilst you visit in 2013 you can check on the monthly Stitchthrift hints for saving money on stitching supplies.   Of course there will be the usual additions to the Patchsmith Pattern shop - particularly as spring will be approaching with its abundance of brightness, colour and warmth.  And the Across the Pond sew-along will continue to grow and expand whilst having fun on both sides of the Atlantic - with some great FREE patterns from various designers on the web. 

I will be rejigging the blog layout slightly so that all this information will be easy to find.  Sew until then I just wanted to say to each and every one of you .......

MERRY CHRISTMAS

and

A HAPPY, FUN-AND-FABRIC FILLED

NEW YEAR

xxxxxxx


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas at Patchsmith Palace

Patchsmith Palace is decked out in it's seasonal glory - want a peek?  Well it just so happens that my employer has popped out to purchase more fabric ("more? you want more?").  I suspect we will all be getting a fat quarter for our Christmas bonus again this year and I don't even sew - but enough of my moaning ....come along now, no dawdling, let us pop in and see what the Palace looks like? 
I see there are a few regulars here and the first thing you'll notice is that the Beehive wall quilt has been replaced with Relaxed Santa in the hall for a cheery Christmas welcome. 
You will glance another santa in the corner of the lounge.  The red of his coat matches the red of the poinsettia.  Yes madam, that is one of the Patchsmith's many, many, many (yawn) mug rugs under the poinsettia but not one of her own designs.
On the coffee table the autumn runner has been replaced with a design from Tilda.  Please do not put your coffee cup on it though - I've had to escort many a person from the palace for just such an offence.
The Patchsmith loves designing and creating but she also makes time to try out patterns from other designers. 
This runner is an adaptation from Tilda's 'Crafting Christmas Gifts' book.  As you can see the reindeer are cute but not as cute as the little elf hiding under all the presents.
If you turn to your left you will see a little tree nestled on the bookcase.  Unfortunately it isn't a real tree as the Patchsmith is allergic to pine needles - they make her come out in profanity.  She did explain once, when she stood on a pine needle stuck in the carpet but I didn't quite understand due to the string of expletives. I wanted to shock her with an epi-pen straight to the heart but the cook warned me that against it.   The gingham hearts add a lovely home-made touch don't you think? 
LADIES!!! Please, put those chocolates back on the tree - they are solely for the Patchsmith. 
Moving on .... if you look at the coffee table you will see that the autumnal coasters have been replaced with the Patchsmith's own Christmas robin coasters and if you glance up in the nook you will see an early Patchsmith quiltie - from 2004 sporting the same robin design.   The Patchsmith often uses a strip piecing method of applique - she says it's quick and easy leaving her more time for shopping for fabric although it very nearly landed her in trouble with the law recently!
Next to the clock is the Patchsmith's latest pattern - a heart shaped coaster that also doubles as a wall hanging.  She seems taken with hearts at the moment; she even added one to her Christmas wishlist but I don't hold out much hope - I've been praying she gets one for years! 
As we pass the kitchen look out for the little handmade band on the servant's tea caddy - this is another example of a very early Patchsmith creation. 
The servants are often given the Patchsmith's cast-offs once she has no further use for them.  Like this Zakka pot holder which the cook now uses for the salt and pepper pots.
We did have a snowman biscuit barrel last year but out generous ladyship confiscated it when she caught me and the cleaner, Beth sharing a ginger cookie.  She said that if we were going to be greedy and not make one cookie do all the staff then nobody would have any.  However, I do know the biscuit barrel wasn't thrown out - it's up in the workshop.  I would take you up and show it to you but unfortunately the Patchsmith has taken to locking the door following somebody moving her most precious mug rug on our last tour - she doesn't miss a thing that nosey old ba...., ahem, I mean that observant, dear old lady. But gather round, I have a photo of it which Beth took when she was dusting as a reminder of her first love (the snowman that is - not me unfortunately!). 
We'd better be making a move, the Patchsmith will be back soon.  As we pass the coat stand be sure to look up and see the little stocking garland hanging there.
Please feel free to leave a donation to the servants Christmas party in any of the stockings on your way out ..... why thank-you sir, a whole penny, how very generous - are you related perchance to my employer, the Patchsmith?

Quilting Gallery Birthday Give-away Winner

THIS GIVE-AWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Thank you all for entering. 
I wish I could grant you all your wishes and choices for Christmas - many of which matched my own.  Unfortunately there can only be one winner.

I used a Random Number Generator to select
TUBAKK
as the lucky winner and the mug rug and fabrics will be on their way to her/him as soon as s/he sends me their contact details.  Hopefully s/he will get these goodies in time for Christmas.
 
I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a healthy New Year. 
The seasonal tour of Patchsmith Palace will be underway this evening so be sure to check back here.  I have also added two new patterns to my pattern shop today.  All patterns are just $1.99 (approximately £1.30 at today's rates) so why not check out my Craftsy store and treat yourself. 

In the New Year I hope to start two new monthly series - one entitled the Stitchthrift which will give hints and tips for saving money on supplies and sewing - a must in these difficult financial times.  The other is entitled "Sew I See" and will delve into the philosophy of stitching, sewing and blogging.

Sew until next we meet .........
 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Quilting Gallery Brithday Give-away

December is such a busy month what with Christmas and the end-of-the year.  You may wonder if you can fit in another celebratory day but here is one you won’t want to miss – it is the Quilters Gallery’s fifth birthday on the 10 December 2012.  This is one celebration that you only have to turn up for – no preparation on your part; no gifts to buy or wrap, no food to cook (with the exception of the odd cookie on your Patchsmith mug rug next to that warming cup of tea!), no money changing hands.  Nope, this is one celebration where you arrive, enjoy yourself and hopefully leave with some lovely goodies and lots of hints and tints from an awesome collection of bloggers.  It is the Quilters Gallery blog hop to mark their special day.   Needless to say – not being one to miss out on a party - the Patchsmith is joining in.
So settle down, tea and cookie at the ready (hopefully nestled on a Winter Birdhouse mug rug) and be prepared to jump in and out of blogs, picking up freebies and entering give-aways along the way.
If you check out the page links on the right-hand side you will find some free patterns, hints and tips.  You will also get a taster of the clear diagrams that I use in my patterns – all of which can be found in my Craftsy shop priced at just $1.99 all the time, not just for this blog hop - so if you are too busy blog hopping now, pop by later to check them out. 

Okay, okay - advert over – let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of why you are here ....the give-away.
In celebration of Quilters Gallery I am giving away a Patchsmith original mug-rug, handmade by the Patchsmith herself and sneaked out of her workshop (she is very guarded about her workroom – check out next week’s Seasonal Tour of Patchsmith Palace here at this blog, to find out more!)  Along with this I am including four fat-quarters of quilters’ fabric and a small chocolate treat.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or which side of the pond (aka Atlantic ocean) you are on, this give-away is for you.  All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what one thing you want for Christmas this year.  Please make sure you include your email if it isn’t in your profile and remember - this give-away closes next Saturday, 15 December 2012.

That is it – simple.  So leave a comment and then go and enjoy the rest of the blog hop.  And don’t forget, you are cordially invited to come back next weekend to take a tour of Patchsmith Palace in all its seasonal glory. 
Sew until then – happy hopping.

****NOTE:  THIS GIVE-AWAY IS NOW CLOSED  ******

Friday, 7 December 2012

Stripping ..... again

Would you believe I had trouble with Facebook and a comment I posted?   I am guessing the answer would be 'YES' if you followed my previous post about my strip search.  I uploaded a notice about my latest mug rug pattern - the Honey Bee mug rug.  All I said was "this pattern uses a quick strip applique method and it doesn't involve taking your clothes off" (which it doesn't by the way) and Facebook vetted my post and wouldn't release it until they had checked it out.

On reflection though, it is most probably a good thing - could you imagine the things that could be posted about?  No - don't even think about that - think nice thoughts - like bees buzzing around flowers in summer gardens or thick dollops of honey in lemon tea or .... even better ..... honey in a shot of whisky topped up with a splash of hot water - delicious.
Gotta go, but check back here on Sunday for details about the Quilting Gallery Blog Hop party - the Patchsmith has a give-away.

Sew until then .......

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Trio of Trees

Welcome to December – the month of joy, gifts, family and friends getting together over the meal table, hectic schedules and excited children.  It really is a lovely month.  And even more so now the pattern for this month’s Across the Pond Sew Along is available.  It will not add too much to your workload.  The project this month is for a placemat and napkin set featuring a trio of trees.  There are two options – you can applique the trees or paper-piece them.  Both designs come with a nifty napkin holder incorporated into the side of the placemat. 
As followers of my blog will know I am very new to paper-piecing so this pattern is suitable for novices like myself.  I do not include any instructions on how-to-paper-piece as there are so many tutorials and books that tell you ‘how’ so much better than I can.  I would however, point you to Craftsy’s Block of The Month 2012” free video course – the month of October deals specifically with paper-piecing and it is very clear and informative.   Check it out here.  But even better than that - come and join the sew-along group for this month's project and stop a while to say hello - find out more at the Across the Pond Flickr page

Tip:  Ensure you set print scaling to 'none' on your print page prior to printing the templates.  This should ensure that each paper-pieced template is 4.5" wide from black dashed line to black dashed line.  There is a line on the front page of the pattern reminding you.  If you forget don't worry, your placemat will just be a little bit smaller - it will still look good

Both of the patterns for the placemat can be found in my Craftsy store – each are priced the same as all my patterns - just $1.99.  So, if you haven’t joined the Across the Pond Sew Along already, why not start this month.  And remember, trees are not just for Christmas!
 
Before I go I just wanted to help raise awareness of an opportunity for all quilters to put their skills to the aid of the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative.  It is a campaign where quilters donate a small quilt and that quilt is auctioned - all proceeds going towards Alzheimer’s research and awareness.  Do we need an excuse to quilt?  NEVER and how lovely to be able to do something we enjoy doing and help others at the same time.   I know many have been involved with the Sandy quilt initiative but it doesn’t have to stop there.  I was asked to give permission for two of my mug rug patterns to be made by a very kind lady called Shelly who is donating them to the Art Quilt Initiative.  Check it out and if you can find time to make something small (no bigger than 9” x 12”) I know they would be really pleased to receive it.  Details of the requirements can be found here,
 
Sew until next time .......

Monday, 26 November 2012

Two wise birds


I am often asked how I find the ideas for my mug rugs.  Some just come to me and I make them straight away (Winter Birdhouse Mug Rug is one such pattern).  Others take hold a little more slowly and that is exactly what happened with my Two Owls Mug Rug.
 
I live in the Hampshire countryside in England and I drive home from work through a beautiful little village, called Southwick (pronounced Suth-ick).  One dusk at the beginning of summer I was on my way home - I had just passed the little thatched cottages on the corner of the village and was driving down towards Creech Woods when a large bird flew across my car and up into the bough of a tree a short way ahead. 
(picture courtesy of the Barn Owl Trust)
I slowed down and could make out the outline of a very large bird sat on a branch.  I wasn’t sure if it was an owl or an evejar but it seemed to be watching me make my way home.  That was the first encounter this year with an owl and it made an impression.  So much so that I searched the boughs at the edge of Creech Wood for the rest of the week.  I never saw the bird again. 
 
The next encounter came whilst I was in the Lake District this summer.  If you recall from my earlier blog about the Red Poppy cafe in Hawkshead you may remember that it also sold little trinkets.  It was here that I picked up a packet of paper handkerchiefs which were adorned with owls. 
These were for my daughter as she has asked me to buy some her some tissues.  Before I gave her the pack I took one out and placed it in my Zakka sew-along book with my little elephant book mark.  I didn’t think anything of it and don’t even know why I kept it – just because it looked pretty I guess.
The final encounter was in the supermarket three weeks ago doing my weekly shop.  I strolled down the greetings card aisle looking for a Thanksgiving Card (not a hope in England!).  A card caught my eye – two owls perched on a branch looking at one another. And then further along I spotted a little 2013 handbag diary decorated with owls. 
It was at that very moment that I remembered the owl tissue and then the bird on the bough of the tree.  I purchased the card and diary and knew instantly I would have to immortalise that dusk memory in a little mug rug. But where had I put the tissue with the owls on?  I searched high and low but couldn’t find it.  It wasn’t in the Zakka book with the elephant and it wasn’t in my idea’s folder.  The following day at work, my eyes were sore and I reached into my Brad Pitt attraction pouch (remember that?) and what should I find in amongst the breath mints and eye drops – yes, you guessed it – the little owl tissue.
So my latest pattern began as a brief encounter and resulted in a whimsical mug rug that is suitable for grown-ups and children alike.   I hope you like the end result as much as I do.
 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Across The Pond Sew Along - Week 2

I should entitle this post, week 2, 3 and 4 'coz I've finished the Anita Vacation bag.  I didn't mean to - it was just so easy.  The pattern looked quite long upon first glance but I soon realised that was due to the awesome tutorial style which in turn makes it a breeze to put together.  I sat down on Friday morning intending to cut out, do the base of the bag and the handles only.  Well, the cutting out took no time at all due to the clear instructions and the outside of the tote went together in minutes - including the pleat. 

I just kept on going and by lunch-time I was the proud owner of this beautiful tote bag - complete with inside zip pocket and inner divided pocket to take mobile phone, notepad and pens. 
I knew I was onto a winner with the handles - they were so easy to do yet look so professional.  Amy recommended a 'jeans' needle but I used an ordinary no. 12 machine needle - the one that was in my machine (I'm a lazy so-and-so).  It worked a treat.  Amy also recommended another two lines of stitching on the handles but I stuck with just three - the handles looked so good I was worried I might ruin them - can you believe that - me ruin something - NEVER (ahem!!).
This is only my third bag I've ever made and I think it is fair to say it is the only tote I will ever make again.  The simplicity of doing the bottom corners, the handles and the zip pocket made it so quick.  Even the side pleats matched up and I wasn't concentrating on those.  I took my bag out on Sunday, for coffee and cake, to celebrate and I received two comments on it in the coffee shop. 

So what can I say?  Across The Pond sew-along for the month of November - completed - in a morning.  I would like to say it was down to my incredible sewing skills ..... but I'd be lying.

I am devising the next pattern - a lovely placemat and napkin set.  The pattern will be ready for the 1st of December so you can make them in time for Christmas.  I am hoping it won't take anymore time to complete than Amy's wonderful pattern - but I can't guarantee it - I haven't made it yet.  This is just a little taster - it may end up in the placemat - it may not ..... as I say, I haven't made the pattern yet!
Sew can't stop and chat - got work to do.  

Friday, 16 November 2012

Strip Search

Sometimes I am not the brightest penny in the pot and it can take a little while for me to realise that something isn't quite right.  Such was my escapade this week it is a wonder I am not writing this behind bars.
What on earth has the Patchsmith been up to?  I hear you ask.  Well it started quite innocently with a quilt pattern - as most things do.  I patch and I applique and occasionally I undertake some English paper piecing but I had never attempted to paper piece a block where you sew onto paper.  Susie over at Susie's Sunroom is very good at paper piecing and I am mighty envious of her scarecrow.  With this in mind I set out this week to learn how to paper piece.  I had seen a star that was made up of strips of fabric that I liked instantly but unfortunately it was not in my favourites folder.  I remembered that I had saved it but I think I may have put it in the wrong folder.  Well rather than search through the endless folders and items on my computer I decided to do a google search - it would be quicker.
 
I selected Google images as I knew I would recognise the star instantly and I typed in 'strip star'.  Well you can only imagine what showed up on my computer screen.  I am looking and looking wondering why I have pictures of naked people, of boobies and bums and not a quilt block in sight.  I look back at my search box .... yes I had typed in the right thing 'strip star' yet not a patchwork anything (a few patches sure, on different bits and pieces, but nothing I could work with!!!).  Then the penny dropped (as we say here in England) and I roared with laughter.  What a klutz - and it had taken me several minutes to even realise.   
 
I was just about to clear the screen when an image caught my eye.  It was Brad Pitt - on the set of Troy - and he was naked - all except for a fig leaf covering his dignity.  Now have I told you that I have trigger finger - yes, 'tis true - it is a real medical term.  Sometimes my fingers click automatically, they lock, and I struggle to get them undone.  Well you will not believe it (neither will the judge I am sure) but just as I was about to clear the screen my fingers triggered onto the mouse and clicked onto the Brad Pitt picture.

Oh my!!  Yes, Brad was still wearing a fig leaf but I had the option to remove the fig leaf with one small, little click of the mouse.  Did I?  Didn't I?   Mmmmm, what do you think?  

Of course, I daren't say.  And I would love to share the links - you all know how very generous I am but unfortunately I don't think it is legal.  

As for my strip star - it is actually called a string star - but don't type that in Google images either - for stars wear strings - apparently.  If you do a 'strip' or 'string' search make sure you use the words 'patchwork block' somewhere on the search line.
I did make a block - it wasn't a string star block though that looks easier than the one I attempted.  I attempted the evening star (turorial here) I found it quite easy to sew the individual star points but putting it together was really tricky and fiddly and I didn't like it at all.  I couldn't match the points.  I haven't ruled out paper piecing - just not a strip star!!!

Ooh, gotta sign off now - the warden is on his way up - something about Prisoner No. 10 (of course!) stripping!   Sew until  later .......

Friday, 9 November 2012

Across the Pond Sew Along - Week 1

The Patchsmith has joined with Susie (Susies Sunroom) and Amy (Amy made That) to create a new sew-along group.  Amy and I met whilst undertaking the projects from the Zakka sew-along.  Sadly the sew-along ended in September as we had worked our way through the book of patterns.  However, all is not lost – the Across The Pond sew-along group is now live.  I will be posting throughout the month concerning my progress as I work through the patterns to each month.  So why not join me as I begin a new journey along the fun, fabric and friends trail.
Each month we will be working our way through a different pattern.  Some will be our own designs and some will be patterns created by others.  Some patterns will be free and some will be purchased.  There are so many awesome patterns around that it seems right to include a mixture.  For our inaugural month we are starting out with the Anita Vacation Tote.  This pattern, designed by Amy, is available to purchase here.  To call this pattern a tote doesn’t do it justice.  It is so much more than that.  Amy’s pattern is a tutorial style pattern which will take you through the stages of installing a zip, making strong handles and adding a snap fastener.  So let’s not sit around chatting – let’s get sewing.
Week 1 – Choosing Fabric.
The first section of this tutorial pattern gives pointers and hints for selecting fabrics for this project.  Amy has a knack for picking gorgeous fabrics for her projects. Her style is eclectic – from modern to floral, brights to pastels.  If you want to see what I mean then check out her Flickr group of projects.  I, on the other hand, have a modern country style which leans towards the checks, ginghams, small ditzy prints.  I love the modern ‘Bonnie-and-Camille’ fabrics and I do use them but there is always a little bit of gingham somewhere in my work. 

As this is the first project in our sew-along and it is Amy’s pattern (no pressure then!!!) I set out to the fabric shop with an open mind. 

My first fabric, a gorgeous cappuccino heart print (did I mention I love hearts?) was an easy pick – it jumped out at me literally as I was trying to get another fabric.  It was love at first sight and I have so much planned for this fabric that I am hoping there will be enough scraps for a mug rug (I am such a tease - J).  The fabric also contains blue, red and green so there was lots of scope for blenders.  I purchased half a yard. 
Already at this stage I am wondering if I am not just a little too country so next I chose a Moda bright contrast which is not at all country but just seemed to go (well to me it does).  I purchased a skinny quarter (a quarter of a yard across the width of fabric).   
My third fabric, another ½ yard is called Old Primrose Inn by Blackbird Designs for Moda.  This one is definitely my style – a small ditzy star shaped print. 
And finally I purchased a skinny quarter of a Japanese print produced by Junko Matsuda – flowers, flowers everywhere – just love it.
So there you have it – four fabrics. The two long skinny quarters are going to make up the handles, pleat and accent band and the two half yards will make up the exterior bottom and the pocket strip. I already have a 6" zip so I just need half yard for the lining, a magnetic snap and one-and-half yards of fusible fleece.

 

I have never used fusible fleece before – I have used medium weight fusible interfacing for the two bags that I have previously made and it has always worked pretty well. Yes, ‘tis true – I am a total bag novice – I have only made two bags EVER! I made a messenger bag during the Zakka sew-along and a button tote from Everyday Handmade.

         
Amy’s pattern states fusible fleece so that is what I am going to use – I love trying new things – growing and learning. Amy recommends Pellon 987F fusible fleece. An equivalent weight/loft is Vilene H630 fusible fleece or Vilene Low Loft Fleece. The Cotton Patch has a good chart showing the difference types of fusibles – check it out here.



So I’m off to pick up the final bits and bobs and will be making a start on the construction. If you are following along with me then I am hoping to complete the exterior and the handles this coming week. Why not post a comment and let me know how you are getting on. Plus, post pictures of your progress along the way in the Across The Pond Flickr group – we would love to hear from you. Trust me – there will be giggles and mishaps along the way – it is in my nature as you will know only too well if you were on the Zakka trail with me.


Sew until next Friday .......