Adjusting to a new season in and out of the sewing room

Japanese Graden, Kew by Allison Reid
Peace and tranquility at the Japanese Garden, Kew – a photo memory from Oct 2018

I knew September would throw up a lot of changes but I hadn’t factored-in quite what an impact adjusting to them all would have on my slowed-down, lock-down self. In trying to accommodate increased social activity I know I’ve dropped a few balls, including writing for this blog. Sorry for the lack of regular posts – there have been plenty written in my head!

I’m definitely not grumbling about the way life is changing, just having to acknowledge that returning to a more normal, pre-Covid, level of activity is going to take some time to get used to.

Gratitude Log. First and foremost I am grateful for the roll-out and up-take of vaccines in the UK – over 80% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated. The vaccination programme has made the following events possible and I’m acutely aware that most of the World’s population have no where near the levels of Covid-safety I’m privileged to enjoy.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been grateful because:

  • Both my husband and younger son have found employment and we are settling into new routines.
  • I’ve been on a sewing day – first in 18 months πŸ™‚ Felt so odd being in a public hall and not wearing a mask! Funny that I sat next to a lady and as we chatted we realised she’d been one of the customers I’d served earlier that week in Purple Stitches – we’d both been wearing masks in the shop so didn’t recognise one another!
  • The ladies mid-week Bible study group at Church has begun meeting in-person rather than on Zoom.
  • We’ve been able to meet up with family and friends for a variety of socials including birthday celebrations and an in-person meeting of our Housegroup.
  • I’ve begun teaching again. The first class of the four session Beginners Course took place last Saturday.

Whew! That’s a lot of social activity and I’ve just had to accept that it’s going to take introvert me a little time to cope with this return to a more balanced social routine.

Which makes me grateful for something else, namely my sewing room πŸ™‚ Definitely a place to retreat into, find rest in creativity or just find rest in pottering about, fondling fabric and playing with new ideas. Occasionally this sewing room space does become a place of work though. For the past two weeks I have been pressing, rotary cutting and collating novelty print fabrics. I managed to source 42 different cotton prints. After laundering them all I set about cutting them into 1,156 five inch squares! (I’ve only just worked that out – definitely better not to have known at the start of the process how many were needed!).

I have collated the squares into eighteen packs of 42 and twenty packs of 20. All are now listed in my Etsy and Folksy shops for UK customers. Alongside the packs of novelty squares I’ve listed my I-Spy Shadow Quilt pattern. I’m proud of this pattern as I designed it to be a quick and easy make and it has received positive reviews ☺️

Apart from the 42 novelty print squares all that’s required to complete the patchwork are two background fabrics – one a darker shade of the main background to create the ‘shadows’. The pattern has step-by-step instructions for strip piecing. Despite appearances there’s no fiddling about with sashing as the strips between the novelty squares are part of the blocks. The pattern is available as a pdf download on Etsy or as a printed pattern for UK customers on Folksy. (Unfortunately Etsy add tax onto the price of the pattern – obviously I don’t receive that money).

Handling all the novelty fabrics has got me fired up to make another I-Spy Shadow quilt. I think I’ll try making a smaller version using 30 novelty squares in a 5 by 6 layout. I’ll be posting my progress here and on Instagram @allisonreid.neweverymorning

Background fabrics along with the excess novelty squares I’ll be using.

Other projects that need attention this weekend are my blocks for the Beginners Class – can’t have the teacher falling behind on the homework! I’ve taught the Beginners Course several times, making at least five versions of Viv’s Dashing Stars quilt.

My most recent Dashing Stars quilt – I added borders to this one.

This time around I’m mainly using fabrics from my overflowing bins of blue scraps. I’ve decided to alter the pattern a bit by making Square-in-a-Square Blocks in place of the large feature fabric squares. I used this table on the Quilter’s Paradise site to figure out the cutting of the fabrics for the Square-in-a-Square Blocks. A very handy resource for anyone who ties themselves in knots doing quilt math!

Once I’ve done my Beginners Course homework and the prep for lesson two I will turn my attention to the ninth block of the Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along. I’m making these blocks using scraps of blue fabric – surely I’ll be able to close the lids on those bins soon? πŸ˜€

I hope you have some time to be creative this weekend.

Linking with Alycia for Finished or Not Friday.

Happy Stitching!

Allison

PS. Catching up with reading blog posts is definitely on my list with the intention to re-establish Saturday Quilting Bring & Share posts as soon as I have brain space to absorb more than ‘absolutely necessary’ information!

 

A quilt finish and a bonus cushion cover

An odd mixture of emotions today as we emptied the loft of stored Christmas decorations and absorbed the latest guidelines and rules issued by the UK’s Prime Minister. Very strange to think that maybe no one outside of our little ‘household bubble’ will step into the house to see the tree and decorations. But how fortunate we are to be a three, knowing that other members of our family are not alone in their homes either and hopeful that all can remain safe and well until the virus is finally brought under control.

Trying to take a positive slant: the social restrictions already in place have led to much more time being spent at home in the run up to Christmas than in previous years. No end of year lunches or get-togethers getting me out of the house has meant more time to sew in December than I can ever remember! I have two finishes to share. Firstly, the cushion cover I made to test a pattern.

Made from stash fabrics chosen to coordinate with our living room sofas. The cushion cover is 18″ square and has a simple envelope opening.

The second finish is my fifth version of the Beginners Course pattern, Dashing Stars. I used the background fabric to create a narrow 2″ border to give (I hope) the effect of the blocks floating across the quilt top.

I enjoyed hand stitching the binding – it’s just the right time of year to have a cosy quilt draped across my lap. I am very fond of Dashing Stars (5). It combines my go-to saturated Autumn colours with my growing partiality for text print fabrics. All the fabrics were purchased at Purple Stitches. The text fabric is an extra wide background cotton. I used the remainder for the pieced backing.

I used Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 wadding and stitched a 2Β½” wide diamond grid across the quilt. I’m very happy with how it looks and feels – super soft and cuddly πŸ™‚

No quilt is complete without a label! This label is part of the pieced backing.

Linking these finishes with Wendy for the Peacock Party and Michelle for the Beauties Pageant. Wendy is sharing photos of three of her Christmas quilts – the close ups of the felt applique are worth a peak πŸ˜‰ – and Michelle has used an old pattern with fabric from her stash to make a quick quilt and gain a sense of achievement πŸ™‚

I do hope you are able overcome any disappointments the Covid restrictions may have brought your way. Our public health officials are hopeful the measures taken now and the vaccination programme being rolled out will give us the opportunity to enjoy social contact with family and friends by the end of Spring. ‘Waiting’ and ‘looking forward’ are certainly themes that resonate powerfully in Advent 2020.

Allison

VE Day 75 – my snapshot

It has been a special, memorable day. Unlike the people who took part in the exuberant celebrations of VE Day seventy-five years ago we have had to celebrate under the restraints of lock-down.

This necessarily quiet day of commemoration has given time for reflection. Many of the scheduled programmes on the TV have been dominated by interviews with ordinary people sharing their experiences of WW2. There has been an opportunity to take part in a two minute silence of remembrance, to hear Winston Churchill’s speech made at 3pm on 8th May, and to close the day with a short, poignant VE Day address by HM Queen Elizabeth II broadcast at 9pm – the same time her father, George VI, spoke to the nation 75 years ago.

The 2nd World War lasted six long years. Ordinary people had to take on responsibilities and roles they would not have chosen, often living away from loved ones, enduring shortages and heartbreaking losses. Thinking about such a lengthy time of severe hardship certainly gives perspective to our seven weeks of lock-down!

My parents were very young at the outbreak of war. My father was born in 1937, he was seven years old on VE Day 1945, my mother was six years old. Their families lived in London. They both have very clear memories of the air raids, running to air raid shelters or hiding under their kitchen tables as bombs exploded in the streets around them. With an adults perspective they can imagine the fear and hardship that their parents went through as they sought to provide for and protect their young children. But my parents memories of WW2 are not saturated with fear. My Dad can think of only one incident when his Mother betrayed her fear to her young family: As they hid in the little dug out air raid shelter at the end of their garden a ‘Doodlebug’ flew overhead, the engine noise stopped and my Dad remembers his Mother throwing herself across the three children in a desperate attempt to protect them from the coming explosion.

With hindsight my Dad is sure his Mum must have shared her food and clothing rations to supplement her childrens’ rations. The children also benefited from kindly Aunts and Uncles who made regular visits bringing their own rations of sweets for the youngsters to enjoy. My Mum remembers her family having to move out of their house when a bomb blast blew out all the glass from the windows. In hindsight she realises some of the difficulties her Mother endured while her husband was away serving as RAF ground crew. A while after VE Day my Mum recalls there was great excitement when the local greengrocer announced a shipment of bananas was on the way. At six years old Mum had never seen a banana let alone tasted one. Everyone told her how good bananas were to eat and she was caught up in the excitement. Oh! The disappointment on tasting the fruit – it was not to her liking at all and yet she couldn’t show her true reaction to her parents and felt compelled to finish it with a smile on her face! To this day she avoids getting close enough even to smell a banana let alone eat one!

While we have not had to endure even a small percentage of the hardships experienced by the wartime generations we are going through a shared time of tragedy the like of which few of us have encountered before. Today it was a great morale booster to hear directly from those who acted with such courage and fortitude during the War and to take part in a local celebration honouring them and those who paid for our freedom with their lives. The neighbours on our street came together (well no nearer than 2 metres together!), decorating houses with bunting and flags and sharing in a front garden/doorstep tea party. It was a lovely opportunity to see one another, to stand at a distance sharing our news and remember the people and events of WW2.

Allison

 

 

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (84)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share πŸ™‚ Bring along your project(s) and share in some of the news, views and inspiration doing the rounds of the Worldwide Quilting Community. Do join in the sharing by clicking on the links and using the comments box at the end of this page. There’s an email subscription box too if you’d like to keep track of my blog posts week by week.

It’s been a funny old week for me. My husband has been away for six nights on a business trip – to the Caribbean would you believe! He arrived home safely on Friday morning – it was -1ΒΊC when his plane landed at Gatwick, the day before he’d flown out of Antigua after enjoying a swim in temperatures nearing 30ΒΊC!

Seven days and six nights home alone…! I coped but I wouldn’t like to have to do it too often. For a start I struggle to eat properly when I’m on my own – so tempting to have a few slices of toast rather than preparing vegetables and

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