Thursday, 13 August 2015

Lavender and English Paper Piecing

Last Saturday we went to the New Forest Lavender Farm at Landford near Salisbury. It was a really warm day (well, warm compared to recent days, as the UK has been experiencing a rather cold Summer this year). The gardens are small but absolutely stunning. There was a swathe of wildflowers and a large sunflower hedge. The whole thing was literally buzzing with insects of all kinds - bees, wasps, hoverflies, moths and butterflies. There were also a large number of birds flitting around. We even saw a dragonfly as we were about to leave.

As it was such a warm day we went into the tearooms for some refreshment. As well as a range of cakes and snacks they sell lavender shortbread, lavender cordial, lavender tea and lavender lemonade. All of the cakes are homemade by the owner and her two daughters. We decided to sample the lavender shortbread.

It tasted as good as it looks!

They also have a small plant nursery there and offer a wide range of plants for sale (much to my Other Half's delight!)

Although it is fairly small it is well worth a visit if you are ever in the New Forest.

On the way back we drove through the New Forest National Park. We stopped so that OH could take some photos of New Forest Ponies and some donkeys. They roam freely and that can make for very interesting driving. At one point a group of ponies had taken shelter from the strong sun in the shade of a large tree. The only problem was that meant they were standing in the middle of the road, quite unfazed by the large number of vehicles having to edge their way very carefully around them!

This week I have been on leave and, as OH has had to work, I have been able to get quite a bit of sewing and beading done. I am progressing slowly with my English Paper Piecing. I have been using up more of my small scraps of fabric. The stack of neatly tacked hexagons is starting to grow.

I am using a paper clip to temporarily hold the fabric in place and then, as my hexagons are only 1 inch on each side, I am using the corner tack method, rather than tacking through the paper templates. The corner tack method is only really recommended for shapes with sides of 1 inch or smaller. Instructions for this method of tacking can be found on the Sew & Quilt website.

I haven't decided what I am going to make with them yet. Possibly another small pouch or bag. I am just enjoying the soothing task of sewing them together. I am aiming to make a piece about 12 inches square. I have a little way to go yet!!

Thinking of other possible EPP projects - I have been inspired by our visit to the Lavender Farm. I am considering a way to re-interpret the 'Cat Tails' quilt on the cover of Hexa-go-go by Tacha Breucher to reflect the lavender fields, wildflower garden and insects that we saw.

As for the beading - I am saving that for my next post!

Monday, 3 August 2015

More scraps!

After completing my Scraptop Carrier (see previous post) I was determined to continue to use up my patchwork fabric scraps. For the moment I am content with making small items. I will work up to making larger items in due course.

For my next project I made a small zippered pouch. I thought that it would be ideal for storing  my sewing or knitting bits and pieces. My inspiration was from the Strippy Charm Purse on the Moda Bake Shop site. I tweaked the proportions to suit me and decided to put the spotty strip at top instead of the bottom. Instead of a charm pack I used some 5 inch squares from my scrap box. I also left out the wrist strap.

I was fairly happy with the way that it turned out, however there were a couple of niggles. These mainly concerned the zip. I didn't feel that the finish on the zip ends was neat enough and I think that my top stitching could have been neater.

I have found a tutorial on adding zipper tabs to create a neater finish on the Flossie Teacakes site. I am resolved to try again and to do a better job next time.

My pincushion in the picture above is made from a small bone china vase that I found in Green Park Station Market in Bath when we visited last year. It only cost £1.50 but as soon as I saw it I realised that it would make a perfect sewing accessory. I cut out a circle from some vintage fabric (bought at a local antiques fair) and ran a gathering thread around the edge. I then pulled up the gathering thread and stuffed the shape before gluing it into the vase with some PVA.

It is hard to tell from the photograph but it is quite small, only 8cm high (approx 3 inches). Just the right size to keep next to my sewing machine. The added bonus is every time I look at it I am reminded of a lovely day spent with my Other Half.

Finally this week I started to cut up some more fabric scraps for English Paper Piecing. I am in need of something soothing to do at the moment. When I need relaxation I normally turn to knitting, knitting socks in particular. However that is not possible at the moment. Three months ago I was diagnosed with calcific tendonitis in my left shoulder. I am having treatment for the condition and I am told that it will eventually go away. But knitting is far too painful at the moment. Just 5 minutes with my knitting needles brings on intense pain.

Hand piecing is supposed to be as soothing as knitting. So I am going to give it a try. So far I have cut out lots of hexagons using a handy acrylic template I got free with an issue of Quilt Now magazine, last year.

The next step is to tack the hexagons onto paper foundations before sewing them all together. I will let you know how I get on in my next post.