A negative sandwiched between two positives: Overcoming the deadline blues

A sandwich of a blog post – two positives surrounding a rather negative filling!

First positive layer:

Here is the progress I’ve made with a couple of the projects I have on the go:

  • Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along: I made the twelfth and final block. Came home from Purple Stitches with fabrics for the sashing and cornerstones… I hope the rusty orange will provide enough of contrast without being a distraction from the blue blocks 🀞

  • English Country Garden cushion covers: Finished! 😁

The negative filling:

I’ve been getting a little stressed by deadlines lately. Not quite sure why, but I’m the run-up to Christmas (complete with it’s own set of requirements combining deadlines and perfectionism) along with heightened anxiety around Covid infection rates as invitations to social events begin to mount up are two of the causes. In my more rational moments I’ve been able to make sensible decisions about what to do and what to let slip but then (especially when I get tired) I have other times when I get overwhelmed and can think of nothing more appealing than shutting myself in my sewing room and not venturing out again until 25th December (when all the deadlines will have gone away!).

Bernie the Bernette

My coping methods at such times are unhealthy and expensive. On Thursday I ate so many biscuits I could hardly face my dinner and last weekend I blew my money on a whim – purchasing a sewing machine 😳 Totally mad! I decided I really needed a small, easily portable machine for sewing days. I chose a Bernette B35 which is a mechanical machine so it’s uncomplicated with no computerized workings to go wrong. When it arrived I felt ashamed of such an indulgence, leaving the box unopened under my sewing table for a couple of days! I have now unboxed the neat little machine, read the instruction leaflet, played around with a few scraps of fabric getting a feel for how it runs. Of course, one purchase leads to another, so I have ordered a quarter inch foot and a walking foot to add to the accessories kit…

Through the past two weeks I have continued to sew, but I have not been reading blog posts. My inbox reached overwhelm, social media was getting me down – so many Black Friday deal messages that any normal, friendly sewing messages were just lost in the deluge. And that left me feeling quite disconnected, lonely in fact. Does that make sense? Perhaps I was experiencing the virtual equivalent of feeling very lost and alone in a large crowd?

Anyhow, on Thursday I reached the bottom of the low, being overtired after a busy start to the week, I hit the biscuits, struggled to share a pot of tea and conversation with my lovely parents, fell asleep with my head on a table, woke up just in time to cook a dinner I didn’t want to eat, went out to a meeting only to find it had been cancelled (I’ve since found the 3 day old cancellation notice on Facebook – Facebook notifications are not a reliable means of communication), came home, escaped into my sewing room (again) before sloping off to bed.

Second positive layer:

Thankfully, a good sleep and a gracious God provided me with a New Morning on Friday. I finished stitching the walking foot quilting designs on the Modern Fans quilt – looking good even if I do say so myself πŸ˜‰

– then pottered around doing a few chores before donning my weatherproofs and setting out to hand-deliver a card to a friend. Despite being elbow deep in pumpkin flesh she kindly welcomed me in for a cup of coffee and we had a good chat as we watched the birds flitting around her garden.

Strava tells me my walk was a 5.6 mile round trip, surely long enough to get a good dose of positive-vibe endorphins circulating through my system?Β 

Have you been experiencing emotional ups and downs? Has patchwork quilting or another creative activity helped you to steady your thoughts, regain perspective or give you respite from a difficult situation?

Linking with Alycia for Finished or Not Friday and with Gail who is hosting TGIFF (Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday).

Allison

Making without being creative

Excuse me, I have been in an odd mood lately. Musing on all sorts whilst continuing to sew.

I wonder if I’m boring you? My blog posts seem to have evolved into a catalogue of ‘what I’ve done’ with little or no creative inspiration. Am I being too hard on myself? I don’t know! My sewing time has certainly been spent getting projects done rather than being creative. No new designs, no squirrel projects (the drop everything to do something new type), no playing around on EQ7 or with pencils and graph paper.

Happily I haven’t lost my sew-jo, I’m still enjoying time spent hand stitching binding, machine stitching blocks AND I’m in the mood to begin experimenting with FMQ after a long break. Perhaps that will be my way back to creativity?

So at the risk of making you yawn, and sending myself to sleep, here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

Finally finished, a scaled down UFO from maybe a decade ago πŸ™‚ This little quilt (46″ square) is about one quarter of the original design (from a magazine). I decided to add the EPP flowers in the spaces created by the Double Irish Chain blocks as I was too scared to attempt ‘fancy quilting’ in the spaces and ‘spoil’ it! I found the backing and binding fabrics in my stash.

Inside the quilt there’s a double layer of Warm & White wadding. I doubled it up because it was very thin in places (maybe the end of a roll or a production glitch?).

I finished the second of the four English Country Garden QAL cushions.

The last two just need the binding hand stitched – I will take those as my project for a day out sewing tomorrow. We now meet in a hall within a half hour walking distance of my home, which is handy as I don’t drive, so hand stitched projects are a more practical transport option than machine sewn projects.

Talking of walking… The sun made a welcome appearance yesterday afternoon, so rather than write this blog post I took myself on a local circular walk.

Look how long my shadow was at 2pm! The sun is so low in the sky this time of year – I was dazzled on the way back even though I had remembered to wear my sunglasses.

No need of sunglasses today πŸ™ A very grey, gloomy view from my window. No matter, I will wrap up warm and do a bit of gardening this afternoon. Our little back garden received a long awaited makeover last week – it’s all one level now with new paving, a low wall, new fencing and fresh turf.

Unfortunately all that work created quite a bit of mess and necessitated having a heavy skip plonked on our front garden, so now the front is in desperate need of some TLC. I guess the squished, dust covered plants have a chance of recovery after a Winter’s rest? I do hope so.

Back to the sewing room…. I’m working on the Modern Fans quilt by SuzyQuilts. I’ve not much experience using templates and made a rookie mistake. I drew the shapes on the back of the fabric so these 18 blocks are the mirror image of Suzy’s design!

The rest of the blocks are non-directional so they are OK! I had a little brain wave in the night (not sleeping so good at the moment – more thinking time!) and reckon if I take a photo of the quilt design on my phone and then edit it to produce a mirror image I should be able to arrange the blocks correctly, all be it they’ll be flipped by 180ΒΊ …

Now I’m off to the local pharmacy to have a flu jab…. Very thankful that we have the opportunity to have these vaccinations πŸ™‚

Linking with Susan, who is busy with Thanksgiving preparations, for Midweek Makers.

Allison

If you’ve made it this far without dozing-off you may like to see a few more photos from my walk in the Autumn sunshine 🌞

 

 

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