Be prepared

October 20, 2020

An odd quick post tonight. I ran across an article that mentioned a covid patient going to hospital in a St Johns ambulance. I knew they helped the NHS when things got busy but I hadn’t realised how much. Their volunteers have been working alongside the NHS ambulances during the pandemic. Now they have a problem, they haven’t been doing all the things they usually do to raise funds. They are talking about needing to find ways to borrow money to help out with the second wave. That seems really unfair and I would like to help them. So how about we all take a look at our first aid kits and make sure they are properly stocked. St John’s ambulance have a web site and sell first aid kits and supplies at very reasonable prices. We can get ourselves better prepared and put some money into a group who are doing amazing work to help the NHS. If you don’t have a home first aid kit they can supply the whole thing.

Monday mystery solo robin

October 19, 2020

It is that time of the week again. I think this slightly later blog time will become standard as this is quieter and lets me use a real keyboard. The dog has reached a stage where he needs my attention in the mornings which makes blogging with him out hard and at the same time he behaves enough better to be out longer, which is great but also delays the blog. The real keyboard is quite a draw too, even though it means less spell checking. Sorry if that becomes an issue to you folks.

This weekend I managed another break from work and tried to progress the new storage for the sewing room. I have one corner that needed more drawers but Ikea have stopped making Alex drawers in colours I want. So I have three large sets of white drawers that I am slowly covering with a sticky film. The shape of the drawers makes that challenging but with a hair dryier I can heat the film enough to mostly stretch it into the cut out handles. It is not kind to my hands, but I hope I only have to do it once. One set of drawer fronts are done so if today goes will I may try to get the carcass covered and assemble the first set. That at least should be easy to cover as there are no curves or cut outs.

I suppose we really should get down to business now. We need to have a new design problem for the week. This week the technique is,

Strip piecing

That feels nice and relaxing after some we have had. Mind you I am already thinking I could strip piece then cut it and make something else from it. I am so bad at just doing simple. I guess we need to know how much space we have to play with. Border size,

Add a total of 12″ to two sides opposite sides of your quilt

Hmm, I think I have a plan. One of the other Monday quilts got a chunk of bargello, and I have rather fancied some myself. This sounds like an ideal opportunity. I wonder if I could make a case for 12″ on one side and 0″ on the other adding up to a total of 12″? It is mathematically true, but is it within the rule. LOL here is a crazy thought, can I add 15″ to one side and cut 3″ off the other, again that technically works right? Of course the down side is losing 3″ of work and effort which I don’t think I could face but it is an interesting line of logic. I suspect I will have 11″ of bargello and 1″ of something on the other side. Maybe 1″ of off cut from the bargello. I think that could work really well on the hexagon, and 11″ should give me a reasonable design space. The issue will be how fabric intensive it is. I might have to limit myself to 3/4″ finished strips rather than 1/2″.

Monday mystery solo robin

October 12, 2020

Well that was hectic. Seems everyone wanted to deliver today and deliver early. The meat is frozen the drinks are quarantined and the dog has been walked. All the animals are fed I can finally start work. I seem to be finally getting the art of working Monday to Friday and taking the weekend off. It has taken me a very long time to get to that point. I can’t claim to be perfect at it yet and sometimes work has to happen at the weekend, but I think I am making progress and I hope it is a healthier way of living. This weekend involved a lot of social activity, mostly online but a little outdoors. I have a feeling we are coming to the end of even outdoor meetings for a while so we made sure shopping transfers were done. Several of us have discovered different areas are keeping stocks of different goods and working together we can get most things. As I have space I get used as a drop point. It saves too many people having contact and I can quarantine everything where even I don’t touch it. I still hope others will form these little teams to do similar. It doesn’t just make our lives easier, it’s fun and sociable, in an odd remote sort of way.  We are also playing more board games now than ever. With multiple groups of people who want to play we have a reason to make time. Finding a web site with a lot of the games we like has really helped.

Anyway, you are probably here to catch up with the Monday challenge so let’s find out what is in store for us this week. Our technique is,


I know that when I wrote this I was thinking of designs added in thread, but I have to admit when I saw it today my first thought was the spools quilt block. Which rapidly started changing to make all the different thread holders I have seen. I am finding it interesting how often what I think of initially is nothing like what I think when I see the same prompt again. I like that, I think it suggests there is more scope to play and that is absolutely what I was looking for. Our size for this week is,

Add 7″ to one side of your quilt

That’s really nice. That would give me scope to make the blocks or to do some really fancy stitching. At the same time I only need one panel of it. Yup, very very happy with this weeks challenge. Now I need to get to some customer work and leave you all to think on this.

Busy yet not very productive

October 8, 2020

Amazing how many hours you can spend flat out and yet achieve very little. That’s been today. Although Thorsday floors day did work and the banisters and wood work in the hall got washed, that is about it on tangible achievements. I have spoken to customers which is both work and fun. I probably shouldn’t admit that should I, but I am very lucky to have some interesting customers who I really like. Dog food was delivered on time. Followed by wood and now the cars windscreen is being replaced in preparation for it’s delayed MOT. I also had a shower so I am clean and fresh for my students. I know that in theory being online that doesn’t matter, but it does to me. I want to be clean and prepared for them even if they can’t appreciate my fruity smell. I think it claimed to be raspberries but I will give it fruity.

I have remembered, too late again, that I want to try to get a second monitor working on my computer. I am hoping I will be able to have a screen near my sewing machine as well as the one at my second sewing station. To be honest the computer was never supposed to be in here but as it turns out it is exactly where I need it for now. Hmm, I wonder. I might be able to set up a machine on this table, that might be easier at least temporarily.

No sooner said than done, well the space is made now to move the machine. Ta da, moved, a lull in class so I took advantage and got the machine moved. Of course that was the moment the class got busy, but still I am ready if they get quiet again.

Storage solutions

October 6, 2020

My sewing room has a small built in wardrobe, which I have big plans for. After a year and disrupted by covid I have accepted the big plan will be waiting a while. That being so I needed to find a way to get the space usable. I need the storage. I don’t want to go out or really to spend money on a hopefully temporary solution so I needed to scavenge something we had. The old house had been full of storage so I have some options. While a lot has been put into service here there is a pile of bits left waiting for jobs. To make things simple I thought I would use a slot together shelving system.  The one I had left was the right depth, a bit shorter than ideal and way too tall. This house has much lower ceilings than the old one, and I thought those were low. Here there is only one room where this shelf unit could possibly fit. I feel guilty about cutting up a fairly expensive piece of shelving but after trying it in my longarm room I decided there was no way it was going in there. So I may as well cut it down as the alternative is to just store it. At least I now have room for and access to the tools easily.  So adjusting the uprights wasn’t too tricky. As the shelves are shorter than the wardrobe space I left in the old shelf support to use as an attachment point for one upright. The wardrobes were added between rooms and are a bit flimsy so would need fixings I don’t have to hand if I wanted to attach directly to them. This saved that issue. It did cost me about an inch of storage but I think I can live with that for now.  Assembled it even looks pretty good.

This then meant I could unpack the boxes that had been sitting in there. That is more important than it sounds as some of my favourite and most inspiring fabrics has just been sitting in boxes for a year. It also provides space for my micro bolts of fabrics. Ultimately I want to have shelves in the back of the wardrobe  exactly sized for these bolts with a sliding shelf in front for more folded fabric. It should let me get 50% more in and visible. At the moment this is looking pretty good and I can at least see the fabric (and maybe use it).


Yes there are still a couple of boxes in the bottom. Those are mostly haberdashery. Things like rivets, buttons and beads. I need to sort out some organized drawers for those. For one day this was as far as I got. This is about half the wardrobe, and maybe 2/3 of the shelf. The ends of the shelves being open is a little tricky but I can cope with it and I love the improvement. When we can get the parts to fit it there will be a long curtain rod that covers the mirror doors and the wall next them. I will use it to hang quilts and a design wall. I don’t like the mirrors and I do need a design wall so 2 birds one stone.

Having spent most of Sunday working on this I didn’t have long to work on my quilt. I did start making the modern with squares border ( I realise now I combined two things in my head, I think this only needed to be modern). All the squares for the 2 borders now have their setting pieces on so I just need to assemble it all.


The edge isn’t perfectly straight, a combination of improvisation and using up what bits I have left. The dip is less than 1/4″ though so hopefully it will vanish in the seam. I can line the seam up on the majority of the piece to stay straight. I am now really trying to clear the last offcuts of this quilt. I want as little as possible left when it is made. I have about 160″ of this design to make but once I have this and the next 2 sides can go on in quick succession with just a short pause to finish the last two sides of the quilt. A couple of days solid effort and I could have this quilt finished.

Monday mystery solo robin

October 5, 2020

Sorry folk, overslept this morning so the dog walk had to come before the blog, but I am here now. Given I haven’t used an alarm clock in months I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset at oversleeping once. I am more bothered by how sloppy typing on a tablet has made me. Autocorrect does catch a lot of small typos. Admittedly it also adds some major ones but swapping back to a computer really shows it up. I am really at the computer because I have a morning of paperwork to do but it should make this a little easier too. Our technique for this week is,

Squares and Triangles

Well if that doesn’t cover nearly every quilt block I don’t know what does. OK I know there are a few that don’t instantly cover that, although a little tweak and they would but still that is a lot of options. Our border size will be,

Add 4″ to at least 2 adjacent sides of your quilt.

Hmm, that also gives quite a lot of scope, although some of the larger blocks won’t be good for this, except maybe in a deconstructed sense. Which does give me an idea actually. Would be crazy but might be interesting. A 16″ block seen with the rows side by side not on top of each other. I may need to draw that and see how it looks but it might be cool. Yes I am almost incapable of doing the obvious.

Mystery quilt progress – at last

October 4, 2020

It has been a long time since I added anything to my Monday Mystery Quilt. I got stuck in a rut with it and just couldn’t get motivated. However, I now have a pile of fabrics and a design for the next one and I want to start that. As I am not letting myself do that until I am on that step I need to finish the ones before, aka the first quilt. I have half the scrappy and curved borders done but they can’t go on until I add the folded and the modern borders. Yesterday I got the folded together. I used the parts I had already made, bulked them up to size with wonky borders (I have used those several times in this quilt) and made up the borders.


The colours, angles and spacing weren’t planned. These were the blocks I could find, so that set the colours. The wonky borders were left over strips I found and then I had to cut a 6.5″ square however it fitted. Finally the spacing was 4 pieces for each side cut pretty randomly plus one piece to make up the correct length. I am happy with the end result, and even happier it is done. It was a very educational border. I will not force myself to work on one of my projects when I am really not in the mood. I should have just played computer games and left it a couple of days. In the long run I would have had it done sooner. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing.

Mojo rediscovered

October 1, 2020

I am finally back in the zone. September mostly didn’t happen, especially if we look at my journal. I missed it entirely. Mostly I just couldn’t quite get my routine together I think. Some of it is probably Covid fatigue too. However having my classes back and more customer work has helped. I know I said it months ago but routine is really important and I need to remember that. I am getting back to doing some sort of crafting in the evenings. I am not optimistic my scarf will be done for winter but I will keep plugging away. I am pretty sure there is another winter scheduled for next year. I am a slow knitter, partly because I have to do short sessions but this is also a large scarf. It is almost a cape and knitted on 3mm needles so a lot of stitches in a round. I do really like the result I am getting. I think I am over half way and getting to 2/3rds.

I have also finally got around to planning the next Monday mystery quilt well my interpretation of the instructions. I think I mentioned that for my second I am going to be starting with a hexagon. I had thought that I would be adding borders kinda log cabin style but the very first border I needed to add was 8″. To do that the center would need to be huge. As I didn’t fancy a huge center I had to change my plan. So now I am going to work in wedges which should allow for all the odd border sizes really well. I think the quilt will be in six parts pretty much to the end, and that end may be the end of the year of instructions if I am lucky.  This is the sketch layout so far. I think this goes to about 3 weeks ago and will be about 43″ across the flat sides so lots of room for more borders.


I knew I had a fat quarter bundle of Kona blues and greys which I fancied for this quilt. I also knew one bundle wasn’t going to be enough and with Covid I am struggling to get more fabric from the wholesalers so this had been a worry. However when I went and had a look I found I have three identical bundles of 22 fat quarters each. That is about 16 yards, that should make a decent size quilt I hope. As with the first one I will make it until I run out then call it done. Given that 30 fat quarters make a king size quilt with borders I think I should be OK. Even if not it is what I have so I will just do what I can. I am not quite excited about this quilt but I am not allowed to start it until I finish the first Monday quilt. So yes this is motivating me to get on with that as well.

Monday mystery solo robin

September 28, 2020

After a pretty quiet but creative weekend I think i may count as ready for the week. Bread is baked, as well as apple cake two. The fridge is stocked, and I worked on several projects. I also risked setting up my daylight lamp again. I put it away when the puppy arrived to stop him playing with the lead. Now I am more concerned he will knock it flying. Its very light weight and he is kinda robust. Brushing against it may be enough. I guess we will see, at least isn’t an expensive one and it does help with some of my crafts. Good lighting is one of the best things you can have to help crafts of all kinds. No, I don’t sell it, I just love good lighting. One of the projects I progressed was this quilt. I have one of the massive outer borders ready to go on, and another very close, Now I think it is time for this weeks challenge.  This weeks technique is,

Birds and bees

Oooh, this one is fun. I realised there were a huge number of traditional blocks based on these, and many quilter use embellishments and applique of them too. I will be very interested to see what people come up with for this one. I think I will need to start hunting out the blocks I found before. What space do we have to play with,

Add a total of 6″ to two opposite sides of your quilt

Tricky, some of the blocks I fancied are huge, mind you I do know there aren’t any 18″ borders in this so I shouldn’t be surprised. I will just have to pick some of the simpler blocks.

Having fun with what we have

September 24, 2020

Well I am sort of happier, the government has agreed with my assessment that this a long term situation. Why does that make me happier? Well it is reassuring that I was reading the data correctly and it is a more certain future. That probably sounds odd but we are now told what we have now is what we do for the next 6 months. So I am now planning that any visitors I have can be comfortable outside. So I am planning a set of outdoor quilts. I think they need to be smaller than most of my usual ones to be easier to manage in a chair. They have to be very washable as they will be washed and dried after each use. I also want to make them as warm as I can. Oh, I want them to be quick too. These aren’t heirlooms these are to be used to death things. So, my plan is something like fleece or minky as a backing then wool or poly filling. For the tops I think I will probably use turning 20 again. It is a pattern I love and it is quick and easy, and I think it would be a way to make them a set as well. My thinking is to pull enough fat quarters for all the blocks I need for all the quilts. Cut them all out and mix the whole lot. The idea will be to get every fabric into each quilt although in different proportions. I think that should give the feel of a set, and let me use up random fabrics which should be pretty fun.