Positivity wins the day

Tut. Tut. SIX months since my last post-that’s a record and not one I care to brag about. The good news is that I am winning my fight against those Black-Dog and extremely anxious days which can creep up gradually when your guard is down or just as likely strike without warning as a reaction to specific circumstances. At 55 years young I consider myself a slow learner but I’m not sure whether I am slowing down as a result of my age or, more hopefully, my experience but either way, a slower and more measured and calm way of life seems to suit me.

My mother always said that if I had been born 30 years later I would have been diagnosed as “hyper-active.” My psychologist initially thought I was bi-polar due to the extreme fluctuations between energy and fatigue and even now I get comments that I do too much and I have more energy than many people much younger. I make sure every second counts in my waking hours and I am always doing and making something but I am learning to do it slower and try to enjoy being in the moment.

Driven by a combination of both nature and nurture I have to make use of every waking moment and, unless I am making quilts, hedgehog houses, cards, or Twinchies, decorating, gardening, blogging, taking photographs or organising my next project, I am wasting my time.  I can’t help it, I have to be doing something but, although I do get tired, I get a lot of satisfaction from my many and varied activities and this helps me keep mental equilibrium (and sleep).

I have decided that much like Tutenkhamun, I will be buried with my most treasured possessions; knitting needles, sewing machine, crochet hook, camera, hammer, nails and electric saw and, maybe IF I get to heaven,there will be a long-arm quilting machine, unlimited Kaffe Fassett fabric, a very patient crochet teacher, a wide-angle lens and pre-cut wood pieces waiting for me!

Here’s just a few of the projects I have been working recently.





Week One-“Hectic”

These years keep rolling by at a worrying rate and I find myself, yet again, at the beginning of my 16-week break from work. The plan was that I have a couple of weeks catching up on my sleep and generally chilling, but the best laid plans of mice and men dictated otherwise.

So the first 7 days went something like this…..

Saturday- a lovely evening out with our next-door-neighbours at a charity “do” for Menphys. No suitable photos available.

Sunday- Will came over for lunch and a catch-up.

Monday-My birthday and up early to take Jasper for his quarterly groom.

Tuesday- A quick tidy and clean up ready for the workmen to arrive.

Wednesday- I fell down the stairs and chipped a bone in my ankle. I hopped into the minor injuries unit and came out in a neoprene support-boot and crutches.

Thursday/Friday-the workmen turned up as planned and replaced our aged boiler, 4 radiators and left us sweltering in unaccustomed 22.5 degrees of heating-loveliness.

Saturday- Hubby and I both came down with coughs/colds in various forms and spent most of the day in bed and plying each other with Lemsip.

Sunday- I feel much better and have actually managed to take Jasper for a walk without doing my ankle any further damage, made some panels for hand-quilting, cleared out and re-filled the airing cupboard now that we have no hot water tank and sunk half a bottle of vodka after a hectic week.

Just reading this back makes me tired but, as they say, the Devil is in the detail, and of course the summary above is only half the story. I am hoping to keep my Blog up to date as far as I can, even if it is only a summary of the week’s activities. There is so much going on behind the scenes however that I should be able to embellish the week’s highlights more regularly than once a week. I need to write more-it makes me feel better.

A Bientot



4 panels ready for hand quilting




A Patchwork of Quilts



One of my favourite ways to relax is sewing and in particular making patchwork quilts.I started off when young making “hexies” (that’s hexagons to the non-patchers) and sewing them by hand into even bigger hexies to make a quilt, or more accurately, a throw.

I still sew quilts by hand, and I spent many happy hours on the train travelling to work and whilst sitting quietly when on holiday in Iran sewing triangles together. I find it soothing and relaxing with a purpose. Everything has to have a purpose so I might as well make it a pleasurable one with a finished article I can use myself or give away as a gift.

I have finished a few quilts over the past 12 months and I now have just two “on the go”. I have made the tops  and am now finishing them off by hand quilting them rather than put them through my sewing machine or sending them off to be quilted professionally.

I have a few in plastic wrappers, folded up and in drawers, just waiting for the right time and place to be used. It was whilst thinking about my stash of quilts that I began to wonder what a group of quilters is called. I love collective nouns and how interesting it is to see what others call these groups of seamstresses with a penchant for quilts.


My favourite has to be the “Coven of stitches” but these also caught my eye; A Stash of quilters, a Comfort, a Hotbed, a Patchwork and another favourite, a Frolic! I understand that a Frolic of quilters is a group which comes together to sew a quilt for a particular purpose like an exhibition and the word Frolic summons up a wonderful picture of a group of quilters having fun whilst designing and working together to make an amazing cover.

At the moment I am in a Frolic of one whilst my Sewing Bee partner-in-crime recovers from a foot operation but when we get started again, I may suggest that we form a Frolic. It sounds crazy and fun. Just what the Doctor ordered!


Free sewing patterns

I love making things and have recently rekindled my relationship with my sewing machine. I’d forgotten how much I like sewing and in particular, making things that I can use. My hubby calls me “gadget woman” as I am a sucker for quirky and colourful things around the house and if it’s a bit different from the norm, it’s immediately on my wanted list.

I sometimes look through magazines and go to friends houses and think that I too would like a clean-looking, minimalist, sophisticated and every-thing-matching home. For me, that would take up too much time and energy and therefore I continue with making things from bits and pieces and fabrics in the colour and patterns that are my latest fad.

Coming back to the sewing arena I have been most grateful and amazed by the number of sewing and craft blogs on the internet many of them producing great tutorials and allowing others free access to their patterns. I have made use of these recently and I have put together a selection of my favourites so far. A big thank you to all these Bloggers for their generosity and clear instructions. I’ve had great fun making your makes.

Pink Penguin-fabric basket tutorial

I originally made the mini-basket then adapted the pattern to make a laundry basket and basket just the right size to fit a packet of baby wipes. A delightful pattern with many options.

Cotton wool/bath bomb mini basket

Cotton wool/bath bomb mini basket

Baby wipes basket

Baby wipes basket

Laundry basket

Laundry basket

Sewn Up by TeresaDownUnder-Patchwork tote bag

I have made two of these in different colourways and love them. they are strong and roomy and the instructions are very easy to follow. I have had loads of compliments and I’m sure it won’t be long before I make another.

Back view

Back view

My new patchwork tote bag-front view

My new patchwork tote bag-front view

It even stands up on its own

It even stands up on its own

The Daily Stitch-(The Village Haberdashery) Hot Water Bottle cover

I love this pattern and although it takes me quite a long time to make one (I make up the patchwork pieces rather than use whole pieces of material) it’s well worth it. I have made one to match my quilt, laundry basket and Scottie Dog in Moda Padstow fabric by Cabbages and Roses.

Moda Padstow

Moda Padstow

Penny Dog Patchwork-Easy Peasy phone pouch

Again I have made a few of these in different colours and they certainly keep my home and work mobiles safe and sound. My first attempt was amusing as I managed to sew it up so that the side pocket was upside down but since then, have mastered the pattern! It may be easy peasy but you still need to think about what you are doing 🙂

Mobile phone cover

Mobile phone cover

Easy peasy phone case

Easy peasy phone case

CrazyKitsy-Cat doorstop pattern and tutorial

A great pattern and when filled with pebbles (I did feel a bit strange stuffing pebbles up the cats’ bottom) it’s a really effective doorstop. Its such a quirky shape, so cat-like it captures the essence of felines perfectly.

Cat doorstop

Cat doorstop

CrazyKitsy doorstop

CrazyKitsy doorstop

Fun and funky-all these items are quite easy to make as long as you take your time and follow the instructions carefully. I hope you have as much enjoyment out of making them as I did.

Mystery quilt

I am relatively new to the craft of patchwork quilting and the more I find out about this fascinating pastime, the more I realise I don’t know much!

Today I went to a local quilt exhibition and discovered yet more quilting delights and surprises. The exhibition was hosted by the Lutterworth Piecemakers, a quilting club based in South Leicestershire. There was a number of standalone designs, beautiful quilts clearly made with love and so much patience, but what really caught my imagination were the “mystery” quilts.

The idea of a mystery quilt is that a person designs the eventual finished quilt, then month by month, provides the group with a panel to complete based on given instructions. Each individual quilter can choose their own colourway and add their own embellishments and interpretation of the instructions so that at the end of the given period, when all the panels are finally put together, bordered, quilted and bound, you get a series of “same but different” finished results.

It is amazing how different the same design can look in different colours so that there can be no two quilts the same. Incredible. Here are some examples of the finished quilts and the individual panels which make up the whole.

The mystery quilt is called “House and Home”

It was a lovely couple of hours wandering around admiring the details and hard work which has gone in to making these heirlooms. One lady had taken 6 years to complete hers.

We even had time for two cups of tea and a piece of cake whilst talking to some quilting afficianados who could have been talking a different language….jelly rolls, fat quarters, layer cakes, in the ditch, long-arm quilter…..etc etc. As a novice, I could have been quite overwhelmed, but as I keep telling everyone. How difficult can it be? It’s only sewing in straight lines!

I may have to change my opinion!

Slowly, slowly catchy monkey

Over the last few weeks I have been working hard at putting all the advice provided by Doc Fraser into place so that I make sure that I rest at regular intervals and taper my enthusiasm for all things in front of me. It has been hard but I am reaping the benefits of more energy and willingness to engage with my fellow man. Most people believe me to be an outgoing, sociable and confident person but in fact nothing can be further from the truth and in times of stress I tend to withdraw.

I am now almost back to “normal” ; presenting training sessions at work, telephoning my clients to arrange meetings and generally taking an interest in my work and home life. It is only now that I feel better that I realise just how ill I have been. I would even go as far as saying that it was touch and go at one stage as I fought against the negativity and preoccupation that I would be better off dead.

Thankfully, those days are behind me for the time being and I am now determined to carry on as before, working and living as best I can.

Creativity is again at the forefront of my recovery, and my latest wheeze is patchwork. If it’s not patchwork, it’s not in!

My new Moda fabrics Padstow design bedroom!

Door stop

A friend of mine asked whether I make doorstops. A bit random but hey, that’s friends for you.

“No, I have never made a doorstop but I can try. What sort of doorstop would you like?”

“A cat”

“Mmmmmmm….let me think about that one (!)”


“Something like this?”


Patchwork bags & baskets

My latest wheeze is making patchwork tote bags and mini-baskets. A girl can never have enough bags and they are an easy thing to run up quickly when you see some nice material. Sometimes you don’t really want to make a huge family-heirloom quilt which take forever (well it does me) so bags are good.

The little baskets are made courtesy of Ayumi, Pink Penguin, who very generously makes her Fabric Basket pattern and instructions freely available on the ‘net. I love these and I can see myself making a few for Christmas presents to hold bath bombs (Lush, Rose Jam Bubbleroons!), or nice chocolates.

Fabric Basket-Moda fabrics "Padstow"

Fabric Basket-Moda fabrics “Padstow”

Last year I made  patchwork tote bag which I was pleased with, but as I made it completely with scrap fabric, I wasn’t wholly satisfied with the colour scheme. I saw some gorgeous, gorgeous new material in the fabric shop at the weekend and so I decided to make me another bag but this time choosing my fabric and colours. I use the instructions available from Teresadownunder as I find the pattern and instructions easy to follow and the end product is both lovely to look at and practical.

Here is my latest make;

My new patchwork tote bag

My new patchwork tote bag

The Big Textile Show

Yesterday I visited the Big Textile Show which was held in nearby Countesthorpe, in my county of Leicestershire. It is so nice to have an exhibition/show held near to where I live instead of having to travel for hours to get there so I made the most of it.

It was a fantastic exhibition of a number of crafts but my overwhelming memory is that of colour. There was colour everywhere; patchwork quilts, embroidery silks, wool, felt, material. Everywhere vibrant, vivid, verdant colour. I am also a very tactile person and found myself touching the exhibits and tracing the contours of the quilting even though there were lots of signs saying “Do not touch”. I just couldn’t help myself.

I wasn’t looking for ideas, which is just as well as I was completely overwhelmed by the amazing colours and complexity of some of the exhibits. I was in awe.

Here’s why;

A crafty week

This has been a busy week craft-wise as I continue to manage my physical exertion levels to make sure that I don’t over-do it and make myself ill. I find it very difficult, but absolutely necessary to do this so I just have to make the best of it. Luckily, I love making things and I get a lot of satisfaction out of trying new things.

My colleagues have ordered some memo-boards! Ordinarily I don’t make things to sell, but if anyone wants something particular, I will make it for them at cost price. This helps me to keep busy and keeps the cost of hand-made items down to a reasonable level.

I managed to complete the quilt that I started last year, so that I only have the border, backing and binding to do now. I also made a headboard to match out of a long picture canvass and hexagonal patchwork “flowers”.

Patchwork quilt and matching headboard

Patchwork quilt and matching headboard

I am loving all this hand-made stuff-it’s right up my street and gives me great satisfaction when I see the end result.

This week I also found the perfect boxes for the new shelf I bought a couple of weeks ago. The only problem was that they were the boxes which contained our tax legislation at work and needed some TLC to make them suitable for use as storage.

Here is the result.

I have done some more odds and ends but my final “make” for the week was a Padstow Patchwork Puppy dog made from the scraps left over from my quilt. Never, ever throw away those little pieces left over, you can always find something to make! The dog is called Padstow as this is what the material bundle is called. I used a Moda Jelly Roll to make my quilt and the Charm pack for the hexagonals and other bits and pieces.

Padstow my Patchwork Puppy

Padstow my Patchwork Puppy

I guess when I look at my week I have been really productive, and I have also managed to go to work full time!

Not bad for someone who is fighting ME/Chronic Fatigue and Depression. I am proud of what I have achieved and long may to continue to a full recovery.