Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Have jelly roll of divine worn and washed fabrics, will strip!

The best sort of sewing ... free and easy.  The strips are cut for you.  Chop them up a bit more if you fancy, make little piles of fabric ... roughly white, blue and pink.  Rummage through stash for long-abandoned manly shirts with frayed collars to add into the mix and make things completely one's own.  Feel chuffed that knew they would come in handy one day.  Hurrah!

Let's piece.  Piece, piece, piece.  First one, pink flowery ... next one, blue stripey.  Ooh what next?  How I love to piece!  It's my favourite bit of the quilting process.

Piecing with furry friends, enjoying a rare communal eidy-hogging moment.  What could be better?

Loooong strips of candy-striped, polka-dotted, check-shirted goodness start to emerge.

I'm excited!

With every stitch, it's looking more delicious.

Where shall it live once it's finished?  I can't help thinking ahead.  Always so keen to see the finished article. 

The colours remind me of our newly decorated guest room.

Methinks we need to take a closer shifty in there sometime soon...

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Twinwood Time

The weekend presented another chance to escape the microwave cooking and head for a much-anticipated event on the vintage scene, the Twinwood Festival.  Best round up the evacuee...

We went for two days and still didn't feel we really did this rather gigantic festival justice, there is just so much to see and do.

Super vintage cars...

Absolutely fabulous vintage shopping, more stalls than ever, including the introduction this year of "The Colonial Club"; another large marquee with some really gorgeous vintage fashions, afternoon tea and live music, forties style...

In the main arena, we were content to set up camp and rest awhile. 

We were pleased to use our lovely Brexton picnic set.  The food on sale at Twinwood is the one low point so this year, we were prepared.

There was constant good entertainment on the main stage, the highlight for me being Max Raabe and the Palast Orchestra.  They came on as the sun was setting on Sunday evening, it was magical, really capturing the glamour of the 1930's.

Both a Spitfire and a Mustang flew over which really added to the atmosphere.

We also really enjoyed seeing The Jive Aces for the second time (you may have caught them as contenders on the last series of "Britain's Got Talent").  They certainly put on a fab show and the Munchkin was thrilled to get the chance to meet them and obtain their auotographs.

All in all, it's a top weekend which we would certainly recommend.

Now, back to real life.  Ho hum!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fabulous Festival

So last week, I dropped off the radar for a while and escaped microwave meals and my tip of a home as I hot footed it to the much awaited Festival of Quilts at the NEC, a trip which has now become something of an annual pilgrimage.   In truth, I didn't actually intend to take photos as it is hard to lug a big heavy camera round all day and then there's the camera or fabric purchases debate?  Hmm, no decision there then.  At some point however, I remembered I could snap with the iPad so I present to you a little fuzzy album of this year's highlights at the festival.

As always, the shopping was incredible.  Oh golly me, I was restrained and yet still had a fair haul when I unpacked.  However, I made sure I spent a good amount of time enjoying the quilts on display this year and purchased the catalogue which accompanies the festival to enhance my viewing pleasure.  There are no details next to each quilt save for a number so if you want to read a little background to each quilt and find out the maker, you need to stump up your £6, albeit grumpily.  Unfortunately, I also failed to note down who was responsible for each of the quilts I snapped (bearing in mind there are hundreds of quilts, there was no way I could match them up afterwards). Some very very talented people, at least.   On to some amazing quilts then.

This display was so very right up my street.  

It showcased some stunning vintage quilts, mainly of the 1930's feedsack era I love so much.  A new book, "Antique to Heirloom Jelly Roll Quilts", has been released by the well-known jelly roll book authors, Pam and Nicky Lintott, this time the idea being to present patterns for quilts which are updated versions of their vintage counterparts.  Not sure I love the new quilts so much, mainly because of the swirly free motion quilting,  but then put them next to the "real thing" and there can only be one winner in my view.

Such scrumptious fabrics.

Gorgeous 1940's bow-tie quilt on the left and lovely older tumbling blocks quilt on the right.  I wonder how long that one took to make!

Just so you know that there's a huge variety of quilting styles on display at the show, take a look at this one.  What do you think? 

The following is a selection of quilts which caught my eye from the many stunning ones on display. The photos do not honestly do them enough justice.  I felt in need of some inspiration as I've had no time for quilting recently but I am hoping that's going to change and if you are not inspired when you visit this festival, I think you must be a little nuts.

This quilt was made from any stripey fabric the maker could get her hands on including socks!  I do love a bit of fussy cutting.

Loved this one, so vibrant and colourful, it really reminded me of Sarah Fielke's work.

Even if a quilt is not necessarily your cup of tea or something you can see yourself making, they are always admirable for the skill and dedication involved.  I thought this one was like a lovely quilted painting.

Hexys were definitely popular at this year's festival.  These ones were cute.

Did you guess they'd be this miniature?

This quilt is very much my sort of thing.  The top had been made back in the '30s and only recently quilted by the original maker's grandaughter (I think I have remembered that much correctly).  

The fabrics are so divine and because it was only a top and had never been used previously as a quilt, they are in great condition.

I always love this sort of quilt, too.  I squirrel things away telling myself I will make one but so far...

Ok, get ready to be wowed!  I was so thrilled to turn the corner and behold a "Dear Jane" quilt.  Now that really takes dedication.  It was beautiful, and to use the Munchkin's favourite word, "awesome".

It's not really easy to take shots of any of the many many stalls where you can go crazy with the pennies (or rather, the pounds!)  However, I am always inspired by Kim Parker's stand and take photos every year to drool over once I am home.  This year, Kim's display didn't disappoint with the addition of a vintage furry friend.  You may recall that I used one of Kim's "Worn and Washed" jelly rolls to make my flannelette quilt last year (sorry, link won't work here, you can find the link in my right hand sidebar, the "Not Just a Load of Old Flannel Quilt", if you wish).  

I LOVE everything about Kim's quilts.  So snuggly and soft, the beautiful slightly washed out colours, the shirtings, stripes, spots, florals.  Yes please!  Well, the inspiration worked and with this year's  strip roll of vintage fabrics from Kim, I have made good headway this week on my latest quilt.  Phew.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The End of the Road

I'm not quite sure what's at the end of the road... the building works, me even, or maybe, yes indeed, my kitchen.  Do you remember what our kitchen looks like?  It's not a room I've probably shown that often and I suppose that's because I don't really like it.  Oh the room is rather nice with its good Victorian proportions, high ceiling and French windows but the fittings, oh deary me.

Here's how it was looking when it was photographed for Ideal Home a few years back.  When we moved into the house some seven years ago now, we inherited kitchen cupboards that were only a few years old but not really our cup of tea.  We couldn't justify getting rid of them so we invested in new appliances and some jolly tea towels, of course.  Hmm, that's a little weakness of mine.

On the back of the six months of building work we've had to have done, we decided finally to treat ourselves to a new kitchen.  So this week, the kitchen started off looking more like this...

Over the last few months, I've really tried to get ahead and sort through the kitchen cupboards;  getting rid of utensils and gadgets I haven't used in years, throwing away packets of lasagne sheets circa 2009, you know how it is. (Please say you know how it is.)

As we started to chip away the old, the previous blue tiles and yellow walls started to reveal themselves.  Delightful, very Van Gogh's Sunflowers?

Oh it's not a pretty sight.  

Nobody warned me it was going to get worse before it got better.  Silly me.

Yes, that's my parents there.  Be careful if you ever get invited to stay with us.  A week ripping out the old kitchen is our idea of a holiday.

But gradually, as the plaster dust settled, we could finally pick up paintbrushes and start to get things on track.

We gave my Dad a reprieve and let him fiddle with our old record player.  Generous, eh?

Meanwhile, the old units were taking on an unusual form down at the bottom of the garden.

I'm not the only one with a den, it seems.

In the background, I have been very lucky to decamp to the utility room along with the microwave, to reheat meals I made and froze a few weeks back.  Here, I am surrounded by my motley collection of flower jugs and the vintage curtains make me happy enough. I try to forget the rest.

Today, I treated myself to a £2 bunch of dahlias and used my charity shop mug for the first time. 

But back to the kitchen.  By the end of Sunday, we'd pretty much done what we could.  With the main re-plastering, decorating, and electrics done, we can hand over to Steve our trusty handyman for the next stage.  It still looks pretty dire, I know!

The other end of the room which is our family sitting room is not faring much better. Its contents, the main furniture and so on, are luckily still in storage after the main building works which took place. But finally, a big van pulled up and the new delivery came on Monday, so now it's down to installation.  Deep breath.

Let's get on to the fun bit.  Planning the new dream kitchen!  I cannot deny that when Sophie Dahl's telly programme came on, the thing I was most in love with was the kitchen.  Oh goodness me, the colours, the vintage touches, the flowers.  Maybe not wildly practical but oh so lovely and inspiring.  The Guardian newspaper described it as "preposterously perfect".

If you do a quick search, you can find all manner of articles devoted to this kitchen.  Well, who knew?  The kitchen is not Sophie's at all but was rented out as a location (it has been used in Cath Kidston shoots, too) and at the time, the house in which it is located was for sale for £1.45 million.  Golly.

I recorded the entire Sophie series and while away the odd hour here and there with a bit of enchanted viewing.  You can still see clips here.

Mostly, I am hankering after an old English pantry meets Shaker look.  If I were a millionaire, I'd have headed straight for the design studios of Plain English whose kitchens are pretty much restrained perfection in my eyes and look as though they have been stylishly in place for years.

 (Photograph: Plain English)


(Photograph: Plain English)

There's definitely a spot of larder love going on...

 (Photograph: Simply English)

Belfast sink?  Stone worktops?  

(Photograph: Plain English)

Paint colours, handles, knobs, textiles, hobs, tiles, the list goes on. My "kitchen inspiration" Pinterest board floweth over with so much divine loveliness, it's obscene. 

So many decisions, each one a pleasure to lie awake mulling over.