Crafty – my own making space


IMG_3498I’m so excited about having my own workspace. It’s great to have everything to hand and not to have to put it all away at the end of a session. I could have done it at the old house but there just wasn’t time when I was working and there didn’t seem much point when we were planning to move. Over the last few days I’ve been adding a few finishing touches to my space. I would have loved this when I was a young girl but back then it would have been kitted out with paints, paper, tiles and such like but I would still have been playing with colour and putting patterns together, so not much change really.  I’ve been using the space since we made the table up but I had some ideas for re-purposing some bits and pieces. First of all there were the 2 little Ikea storage drawers. One used to be in my office at work and the other at home stuck away on top of the bookshelves because I didn’t much like how I’d chosen to stain the wood.

This was a really quick and easy makeover. The plain box got a couple of coats of Jasmine White wood stain left over from the garden shed and then I chose a selection of orange/aqua fabrics and drew around the drawers, sprayed with fabric glue and it was done. The second set were left sludgy-blue but covered with some ditsy blue and white fabrics that cheered them right up.

The next makeover was a little more problematic! Jeff had made a comment that made me consider using a the frame of a picture that was damaged in the move to make a noticeboard. I was going to throw it away – although I had liked it hanging on our old bedroom wall I hadn’t been particularly worried about the damage. It wasn’t expensive and I really didn’t know where it was going in the new house. So now I had a repurposed noticeboard in mind. Cork tiles were what I needed but I couldn’t find any locally so I ordered them on the internet. Simple – no! That led to phone calls from the supplier but eventually I got the tiles and set about painting the frame (magnolia would suit better than the original colour) covering the tiles with fabric and sticking them into the frame. Well, trying to turn the fabric with tiles stuck to it and place the ensemble into the frame was like wrestling with jelly but I got there in the end. Then when we went to screw it to the wall the tiles and fabric decided to part company with the frame. Next up a pot of evostik. For once I read and followed the instructions and opened all the windows but even so I nearly passed out from the fumes and thought I might have an asthma attack (and I’m not asthmatic)! Won’t be rushing to use it again! Well the result is I do have a notice board. It would actually have been cheaper to buy one but I guess that is not the sole point of repurposing.

Once the board was up I popped in some pins and then had another thought. How much more nifty would it be in a sewing space to have button push pins. Out with the glue gun and the button box.


The room is south facing so it is usually light and bright but for when it isn’t and for working in the evening Jeff has installed some really good lighting below the wall cupboards and hidden them behind a wooden slat.


The light is really good at any time of day or night.

But best of all is the table. It’s huge. It easily accommodates my machine and my large cutting mat. When I need to I can put my machine away and really spread out. Best of all are the two Ikea trestles. They can be raised and lowered which is fantastic. When I have a lot of cutting to do I can raise the table up to standing height then lower it again for sewing. It isn’t difficult to do either.


I was going to paint the table top but the lovely lady at Aberdashery suggested covering it with calico. A fabulous idea, it looks and feels just right, it’s none-slip and can be replaced easily if needs be.

IMG_3507There is plenty of storage. As well as the shelves and cupboards of the units there are two Ikea ‘Benno’ CD racks that are just right for fat quarters.

You can see the old  Singer sewing machine at the bottom of the picture . My daughter spotted it for sale in Aberdashery. I love it and although is does work it’s really  just for decoration.

Just to the right is the bag I made for carrying my cutting mat around. It has pockets for my rulers too. It’s really useful for taking out to classes.

I love having lots of hooks and pegs around too. I know exactly where everything is and all the things I use most often are right there close at hand.

Jeff gave me the black rustic nails he had bought to hang his aprons, they were just perfect for the little hang-up baskets. I’ll buy him some more when we next go to Machynlleth.

IMG_3508One last indulgence. I did buy a new chair. Here it is.

Next steps

I know I’ll make lots of little adjustments as time goes on, in fact I’ve already tidied the stack of fabric on the top shelve since I took the photos – and decided on a way to fold it consistently. The only thing I would really like to add would be a really retro looking wooden ironing board!

I’m working on a couple of quilts at the moment and have such a long list of projects in my head. I might just be spending a lot of time here – and enjoying every minute of it.


A little bit of privacy please!


There can be only one reason for the builder of our house to have chosen the door of the downstairs cloakroom. He just could not bear to have a door that did not match the others. What other possible reason could there be for a cloakroom off the hall having a glass door?


We could quite get to grips with it when we first saw it but it didn’t put us off the house nor did we feel the need to replace the whole door when we moved in but hanging a temporary curtain there was one of the very first things we did. I had plans to make a hanging for the door but it has taken a couple of months to get there.

I had a pattern in mind and wanted a double-sided piece. I chose some fabric from Calico Kate and got started but realised that I wanted a much more of a blue look for the outside and had seen Moda’s ‘Sunnyside’ by Kate Spain. I liked the blues and yellows in the range and the weather based theme seemed appropriate.  I also knew that if I bought a jelly roll I’d have plenty of uses for the remainder. So that was what I did.

I started by sewing the strips into long blocks and then cut them six and a half inch blocks.

Then it was time to top and tail them and arrange to the best effect …..

… and add the grey sashing and borders.

The quilting was more complicated than it should have been. One side was a pre-cut jelly roll and the other side hand cut strips and I hadn’t allowed for the pinking on the jelly roll so the two sides didn’t quite match up. I decided the only way around it was to quilt the two side separately – twice the time.

I decided on a fan design for the sashing and borders (click to enlarge) and on the blocks alternate stippling and a design I found on Leah Day’s absolutely invaluable Free Motion Quilting Project. This blog is a great place for ideas for every level of quilter, I’ve signed up for the newsletter and love watching the little videos and trying out the ones I think I can manage – and some I absolutely can’t!


Just the binding and the top tabs and the hanging was done. So privacy restored and a little bit of colourful interest added to the down-stairs cloakroom.

Now the next few days are going to be dedicated to finishing my work space and starting a top secret project!

Paper Piecing. What a revelation.

IMG_3412The Pineapple block is complete. I love it! Melanie said that the process would become clear after 4 pieces; and it did. I really wasn’t sure about the whole ‘cut up the fabric and sew it to the paper pattern’ thing but I think I’m a convert. I’ve been looking at blocks on Pinterest and I’m definitely going to have a go at some more in class.

Here’s how it goes:

…until it was trimmed.
…until it was trimmed.

The ‘sewing by numbers’ was absolutely necessary. I would have been clueless without them. Even with them the first few pieces made no sense. Then suddenly the revelation. I could see the pattern and could actually tell what to do next. It was curiously satisfying sewing the pieces to the paper. I loved when I pressed each one and revealed the next bit of the block. I made up the colour scheme from the Aboriginal Dots range as I went along and when all the pieces were placed I was excited about peeling off the perforated paper. Yes, I do get excited about sewing right now and long may it continue! The block looked more than a little wonky but as the pieces are roughly cut that’s not a problem. A little bit of squaring off and there it was. It just needed to be a little larger to make it the same size as the other blocks so I added 3 different widths of strips in the shot solids and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome!

I’ve been adding borders to a couple of the other blocks too. I’m planning some white sashing and borders to make a small quilt top. Look forward to posting it here but while I carry on with this in class there are other projects waiting in the wings.


Carry on up in Wales!

IMG_2397Waiting to relocate across the border back to Wales meant that getting into patchwork and quilting over the last year was a bit of a double-edged sword to begin with. I’d stumbled upon my new love quite accidentally while trying to acquire some machine embroidery skills and here I was just having found a great place to learn at Yarnia with Kate Higgins and suddenly the long-awaited move was upon us. I so wanted the move but I’d just found something I really wanted to do.  I wanted to carry on but I hadn’t really learned enough of the basics. I know my limitations, yes I could really get on with the help of all those terrific blogs and tutorials but in reality what I would actually do would be spend a lot of time on Pinterest (I could lose hours there) and not much time doing! I had made two quilt tops and was ridiculously pleased with them but had learned how much I have to learn!

Well I have struck lucky again. Not long after the move an email from Aberystwyth Art Centre caught my eye and I had found my new class. So now I have a great new tutor, Melanie Hughes, and a lovely  group of ladies to learn with. Maybe I am lucky or maybe there is something about devotees of quilting, I’ve only met lovely people so far. A little obsessive maybe, but where would the world be without a good smattering of obsessives?

I had to miss the first session since I’d promised a couple of days looking after Dougie (such a hardship) and Melanie very kindly met me early on the second week to get me up to speed with the Arts Centre H&S requirements – has to be done, those blades are sharp and as for those damn dangerous sewing machines! Reminiscent of box moving and gate opening training but I know, I know it really does have to be done. it’s a litigious life.

Four weeks later and I have a new collection of blocks and a raft of skills to make more.

I learned a lot about lining up to get those perfect points (don’t look too closely), I loved making the log cabin blocks and I love the way the dark and light fabrics work together, I certainly wouldn’t have contemplated trying them on my own. Last week there was something totally new and an undoubted challenge.

I think it will take a while to get to grips with paper piecing, starting out without the careful cutting seems like a leap in the dark after such meticulous measuring and cutting but I can see  the possibilities and versatility and will work on it. I haven’t finished the second block but I hope I’ll be posting a pic soon. I’m feeling more confident and have even more projects buzzing around in my head now.

The fabric here is pretty cool too. It’s a Kaffe Fassett design, Aboriginal Dots, that I bought in the totally mind-blowing Calico Kate shop in Lampeter.

I’m so pleased to be ‘Carrying on up in Wales’ and I’m looking forward to learning lots more with Melanie. So here’s to lots more cutting up fabric and sewing it back together again!