November 6, 2012

Mouthy Stitches II

Little did I know that I landed in a shark tank as I signed up for the Mouthy Stitches II. It looked like lots of fun and I admire the three mamas Cindy (Fluffy Sheepquilting), Hadley (Flying Blind On A Rocket Cycle) and Susan (Canadian Abroad) a lot, so why not join?

The first omen was the street fights that broke out after the trio sneakily pronounced the sign ups. I've never seen anything like this. The 75 slots were gone in a couple of hours! Just signing up wasn't enough, you had to pass a background check as well. I duly handed in my certificate for good conduct, the details of my banking account and the pin for my credit card and was admitted.

A quick glance at the pattern required for the swap had me haughtily sneering at this simple task and I relaxed again. Easy piecy and quite obviously for beginners...

I congratulated myself and did my share of happy bouncing and backslapping and stayed glued to the laptop to see who else was in. Then one quilting goddess after another popped up and I though "oh oh" to myself, this time I’ve truly landed in the soup with both feet first.

However, we did the usual things, introduced ourselves, had a good time mouthing away, insulting each other and did an inspiration mosaic for our secrets partners. Very educational procedure I must say. I added quite a few new words to my vocabulary, like dunce and ding bat. You never know when it might come in handy.
The mamas did their thing and paired people off according to their tastes. (and a great job they did!)
I was nervous about this part, but without cause, because I got someone I really like, Nicky from Mrs Sew and Sow. I immediately had an idea for the tote and was seeing forward to making it.

Next came some head scratching and stalking. We had to decide on our fabrics and were given the chance to show our fabric choices in the hope of getting an ok from our partner.  

There were a lot of the really mouth-watering kind of  fabrics being offered, but frankly my fabrics weren't among them. I didn't get any oh and ahs. It was a bit of a damper, but on the other hand I had definite plans for my tote and chose the fabrics for a reason. Of course my partner didn't speak up, but I did a bit of sneaky cajoling and finally had her ok. (Confess you didn't see that one coming, Nicky!)

From then on I just had to sew the darned thing. Four weeks seemed a long time, but oh boy how the time just runs away...Of course a couple of resets were needed, but it was ok. I enjoyed my theme and enjoyed sewing the tote. 

Nicky likes the Moomins, so I chose them as my theme for the bag. The Moomins live in a blue house with a red roof in the Moominvalley in Finland. I did a bit of reverse appliqué for Moomin and "normal" appliqué for Little My with a spot of embroidery. Embroidery isn’t my forte, but I did my best. 

For the backside I did some raw appliqué for the Moomin house. It was a first for me, but I think I'll do some more in the future. Actually I had some Hattifatteners planned for the backside of the tote as well, but there simply wasn't enough space for them. 
For the lining I chose a Moomin fabric made by Finlayson and made the first zipper pocket of my life.
Perhaps not the best result in the world, but I hadn’t enough fabrics for a new try, so it had to do.

In the heat of the moment I made a Plan B tote as well. 20 granny squares on white fabric.

The lining is made of Italian linen.

Of course I didn't know who my secret partner was, but couldn't resist a bit of sleuthing. As the partners were announced I went to my blog to find out who was stalking me. As it happened I only had visitors from the USA.
Back to the Flickr group and a quick check who was in my group. Bingo! Only one from the USA, Sarah aka Arbonnegirl :-)
I couldn't resist putting the fear of God into her and signed up as a new follower immediately. hehe 

Of course I didn’t really know if Sarah was my secret partner, but she made this really gorgeous tote with the cutest owl ever. It was mouth-watering and made my heart sing “Mine, mine, mine!” like the seagulls in Finding Nemo. Don’t get me wrong, there were an amazing lot of really fabulous totes and quite a few I wouldn’t mind saying hello to, but only one had this special effect on me. 

Duty duly done I began stalking the post woman for my tote. But noooo, no tote. I asked my chums about 5 times a day if they knew who my partner was and generally was a PITA. Should you ever have the misfortune to be in the same swap with me, just spill the beans, will you? It will save both of us a lot of time and trouble.

This waiting got so bad that I didn’t want to check with Flickr who had got which tote, because I was so afraid someone else would get “my” tote.
Then one day there was this package waiting for me and a quick glance reassured me – it was from the USA. And there it was; the greatest tote in the world!!! 

Did you notice that keyfob? Now two owls and me are happily hooting away in my home and then they all lived happily ever after. Thanks Sarah for this wonderful gift!

The End

October 27, 2012

This is it

I should be ashamed of myself, I really should. Not that I've been slouching around, doing nothing, noooo! I've done tons of things. Just look!

Oh no, I didn't make the pincushion. That was Beauty (DD1), I pushed the pins. Looks great, doesn't it? Now I'm meditating on another arrangement...

See; I've been busy! So busy that I've forgotten my manners. (Wasn't it me preaching about manners just a while ago?)

The pincushion above isn't my only one; no I have another one. This one. Cute isn't it? This one is for my handquilting needles.

And no, I didn't make this one either. Rachel made it. It came in a surprise parcel with tons of other fun things. Just look!

I regret not taking pictures of the package. There was a  parcel packed in giftpaper and there was some licorice and the cutest selfmade card I've ever seen. I once mentioned that I've never tried Australian licorice and Rachel noted it like the sweetie she is and sent some for me to try. It's good! Tastes a bit like Bassetts and Fazers combined in one, if you know what I mean.

In the parcel I found a zipper pouch with an elephant with wiggly ears. Too cute for words!. But wait. In the pouch there was another parcel and some chocolate. Another elephant pouch with elephant with wiggly ears and chocolate. And then there was a third one. Once again a elephant pouch and chocolate. And in this one - no, not a fourth pouch, but a tiny, tiny pincushion.

I love everything and cannot thank you enough for this extremely generous gift Rachel! I so happy I've found you and I'm looking forward to seeing you IRL in London next summer :-)

Is this all? No, of course not. I've got a "normal" pincushion for my everyday pins. I found it in the duty free shop in Shanghai and was sorry not to have enough money to buy another one. Of course I found the money in my pocket once I got home again and wanted to wash everything. Thats life.

Then there was a letter from the USA. Inside it I found this block. It is Jen's block for the Star of Africa bee.
It's magnicifent! Washington in springtime with cherrytrees in flower.

This bee is so much fun; sure you don't want to join us?

A couple of days later the postwoman brought another parcel. Inside was a birthday present from my schoolday chum Åsa. As you see she knows me really well, lots of licorice, some very tasty tea and these gorgeous gloves. She is a very talented knitter, as I've already told you.

Tack Åsa för allting! Lakritsen är försvunnen för länge sedan, men vantarna kommer jag att behöva nu. Förra veckan var det 20° varmt, men nu har vintern kommit. Brrr....

September 30, 2012

I'm a spoiled brat

I just  love swaps and bees! It's so exciting to see who is signing up, getting new aquintances and chatting all night long...Inspiration to leave your comfort zone behind you isn't bad either. 

In June the Star of Africa bee kicked off with Patti from Canada as our first queen bee. Star of Africa is an international bee with participants from all five continents. The idea is to make one block a month  with a motive from your own country according to the specifics of the queen bee.

Patti was very modest and happy with anything we came up with. So she said. We had to push her a lot to make her say anything at all about her likes and dislikes. She's a dear!

I thought I was even more modest as I didn't wish for a specific size, only a pastel colour line and as theme something you would take a picture of. Not everyone shared my view of my modesty :-)
I wanted to make a scrapbook quilt with lots of blocks of my own from my travels. Time to show my treasures. 

These are the European ones:

Art nouveau from Riga by compliment of
Celtic Thistle Stitches
Very British bling by compliment of Benta at the  Slik Stitches

Greetings from the new German capital to the old one
by compliment of  Sana Saroti
Best invitation ever to visit the British inlands...
by Janine The Rainbow Hare Quilts

Nessie for ever by compliment of Nicky Mrs Sew and Sow

The North and Central American ones:

A very impressive longhorn from Cindy at
the Tops to Treasures
These boots are made for walking...
from Kim at the Quilty Doo Dads

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, the most beautiful lake in the world
made by Irene Patches of my Life
A happy Canadian hog by Patti at the Retired to Quilt

And last, but not least the Asian ones, both come from India.

Tah Mahal made by Veena from Arts Crafts and More
View out the window of a Jaipuri Jali, the pink city
made Tina from the Holy Scrap

Are they not cute! I couldn't say which one I like most of all to save my life! The four last blocks haven't arrived yet, but I'll keep you posted.

It's so exciting when the letters start to roll in and you can see in IRL what the blocks are like. Then there are the small greetings

and sometimes some extras. I don't want anyone to feel compelled to send gifts, so I've been very silent about what I've received. But its such a lot that I cannot hide it from you. It doesn't feel right just to say thank you and not to show the world your appreciation. I will not say from whom the gifts came and I've taken some group photos of my loot. I hope this solution is ok with everyone.
Am I being silly? I really, really don't want anyone to send gifts out of group pressure. Your friendship, encouragement and willingnes to share a part of my road is the biggest gift of all!

Overwhelming, isn't it! And what did I make?

This is my block for Patti. Canadinans and Finns have icehockey in common. 

Jen, our newest bee wished for some animals. She's making a book for her kids to keep them occupied during long rides. I suppose they'd love to spot this one along the road...

This months bee mum, Nicky Mrs. Sew and Sow wished for fictional characters from fairy tales, myths, legends, childrens books...

Have I got you interested in the group? We have two free slots if you want to join us. I can promise a very interesting time and lots of fun. You will learn a lot and I mean really a lot during this ride! Just pop over to Flickr and look for the Star of Africa group, or send me an email. Should you leave a comment here, please make sure you aren't a no reply blogger as I will not be able to contact you.

September 26, 2012

It's a bit over, is it ok?

Every year we go for a weeks holidays to Alsace, France. Always to the same place, always about the same time. Its the 23rd time in a row, so you might safely call it a tradition.

This year we went a month earlier than usual and everything was different. We wern't freezing our butts off,  it was so warm we could breakfast outside if we wanted to. Of course we didn't, because before we realized it was a possibility we'd already finished :-)

Another new thing was the 18th European patchwork meeting in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. We just happened to drive by on our mushroom tour and saw all these shops, exhibitions and people milling around. It was just great and I for one could not get enough and would happily stayed there for the whole week.
It was challenging to keep the family off my back during my raiding of all the shops, but more challenging still to try not to buy everything I saw...

You know I live in a developing country, so please don't judge me too harshly for my buying frenzy.
This is my booty. Everything acchieved in one short hour! And I didn't see a single exhibition; next year Mr. Grumpy will be set out somewhere in the woods...

They had lots and lots of ribbons and zippers. I'm already regretting that I didn't buy more...

In my shopping fever I managed unwittingly to buy a pattern in French. French is not my major forte...Should I need help I do hope someone is willing to translate the difficult parts for me.

The froggies are going to be a pouch one day...

Sorry not to have a single picture of the place, but first things first... :-)

August 23, 2012

Just hopping along...

Finally it's my turn to present myself and my blog. What can I possibly tell you? My brain seems empty and hollow... After all these great tutorials, advice on blogging and exciting blogs I feel a bit intimidated.

Before you get the impression this lady sounds like a creaky door, perhaps I should stop whining and introduce myself instead.

Hi, my name is May. I'm a leftover parent of two wonderful daughters and live in Germany since 30 years. During daytime I work for my bread and butter and in the evenings I usually drop down in my favourite chair, brain dead like now. I’m also mama of two bees and one UFO game.

So what about quilting
Yes, what about it? To tell the truth I began in 2008, or was it 2009 (don't really remember) only to get my childhood chum Åsa off my back. She was eternally flaunting those magnificent quilts of hers in my face and telling my tall tales about how much fun it is. Sewing fun? No way!!! I resisted her siren calls for almost 10 years. Then one day I bought some stuff and began with a small hand pieced Christmas quilt. From that day on I was hooked. First I bought a sewing machine (used and very modest), then some more fabrics, then some rulers...
Now almost 5 years later my Christmas quilt still isn't finished and I'm adding new items to my UFO list almost on a daily basis. Åsa doesn't quilt anymore. She's just knitting, knitting or colouring more wool to do some more knitting. (a good thing she can't read)

Advice for new bloggers
Frankly, if you’ve read all the good advice given on the blog hop there isn’t anything earthshaking for me to add. I just love it and regret I didn’t start earlier. Blogging is fun, but what I like most of all is to hang out with the other ladies in Bloglandia. If I had to give some advice it would be:

Don't forget that there are real people out there reading your blog, behave like you would in real life. Don't forget your manners; say hello when you visit and say thank you if you use something from another blog.

Advice for new quilters 
Well, if you’re asking for my advice it’s like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. I just chop a lot of fabric into small pieces and attach the slices again. I love playing with the fabrics, colours and patterns. But - and here is the big but - I cannot quilt with my sewing machine and my hand quilting abilities are amendable. My quilt tops are piling up, waiting for a new sewing machine.

If I had to give some advice it would be: sew as accurately as possible. It saves time and money. Yes, it does!

My favourite quilting tool 
The Omnigrid 96L triangle ruler. I use it for most everything. 

About my tutorial
For my tutorial I wanted to unite my bread and butter part (occupational health and safety),  blogging and quilting. A bit of my newest swoon, reverse appliqué is included as well.

Did you know that your skin is your biggest body part? It has an area of 2 m² and it feels, breathes and protects you. If you’ve ever had a skin rush you know much it can hurt, so you should take good care of your skin.

Whatever has quilting anything to do with your skin? Well, if you have a laptop and place it on your knees, your skin will be exposed to the heat radiating from your laptop. This heat can damage your skin permanently if you don’t take care. It’s called “the toasted skin syndrome”, or Erythema ab igne (EAB). Worst case - it can lead to skin cancer. Of course you need to spend a lot of time with your laptop on your lap to get the toasted skin syndrome, but we all know how easy it is to forget everything around you when surfing around. The way I'm thinking, even if my skin isn't toasted crisp, there sure are to be some damages before it gets that bad.

You could place a book under your laptop to reduce the heat exposure, but that’s not a very good solution. The book has to be the same size as your laptop and that usually means a lot of weight. If the book is too thin it can bend and get creases.

So why not make a giant potholder? It’s light weight and doesn’t mind if you bend it around a bit.

Skin protector tutorial

For my skin protector I chose two fabrics and a piece of insulating batting (for pot holders). I measured my laptop and cut one of the fabrics (fabric A) and the insulation batting accordingly. To pep up my skin protector I chose a pattern for reverse appliqué for the front. For the reverse appliqué a smaller piece of fabric is enough. This skin protector is really big!

Instructions for cutting

2 pieces of fabric A              18" x 16"   
1 piece of insulating batting   18" x 16"  
1 piece of fabric B                11" x 11"

3 long strips 2 ½” from fabric B

The template for the flowerpower elk you find here

The template is smaller than the one I used for my skin protector. I magnified the template by 134% (from A4 to A3). You can of course use any size you want.
Put the template behind your fabric A and draw the outline with a pen. I used a white pen, so you cannot see it so well on the picture, sorry. 

Then put the piece of fabric B under the outline of the elk on fabric A and pin the fabrics together.

Baste the fabrics about  ½” along outline on the outside.

Next step is to cut out the interior of the elk (fabric A). Be careful that you only cut fabric A and not fabric B. You should cut ¼” away from the outline.

This is how my looked like after cutting the fabric away on the inside of the template.

Then you should make small cuts in the curves. Otherwise it is almost impossible to get nice rounded curves.

                                                                         Before you start sewing you should push the edges beneath the fabric along the outline.

Sew with small, invisible stitches. Use sewing cotton in the colour of fabric A. 

Reverse appliqué in detail

finished reverse appliqué
When you have finished your reverse appliqué it's time to gather the fabrics and the batting together. Make a sandwich of the two fabric A pieces and the insulating batting, with the wrong sides of the fabrics together and the batting in the middle.

Sew the three long pieces from fabric B together and use the resulting strip for the binding. You can find a good tutorial for making the binding here.

Voila, the skin protector is ready to use. As I wrote this tutorial I kept it under my laptop on my lap and it felt very good, much better than a book or toasted skin :-)

Thank you for your interest, don’t forget to visit the other great blogs participating in the blog hop. Most of all – thank you Beth for everything you've done for us! 

Todays bloghopper
Ginny from Fish Creek Studio

Next week

Aug 28
Lucy from Charm about you
Ella  from throw a wench in the works

Aug 30
Elaine from Dashasel Sews
Jess from the Elven Garden
Bye and welcome back again!