Work In Progress Wednesday

Right, I'll just say it now, I have a chest infection and I'm feeling sorry for myself, so no matter how crappy any of today's work looks, just don't tell me, okay? ;o)

My finishes for the last week are:

My Piece Bee With You circle of geese and signature block:

My first frame purse:

My Sew Bee Joyful signature block:

And part 1 of my super secret project (pop over and see Alli and she can tell you all about how it's horses in Arizona...)

I told myself that if I got that part of the super secret project done, then I could deviate for a day or two and play with something 'off-list'.  Having the ick meant that today all I felt like doing was sitting there watching loads of things I'd Sky +'ed and sewing, so now I have a choice.  

I could tackle the 241 tote, that I got recently in Anna's sale over at Noodlehead (after all, all of blogland can't be wrong about this bag!).  I've got the pattern printed out at full size, 75% and 50%, so I can have nesting ones (or something like that :oD )

Alternatively, I could try out the pattern I dreamt up at work after I got distracted had a light bulb moment in a meeting (I'm attributing it to the Excel spreadsheet that was being projected, although I think my neighbour in the meeting probably wondered about the mad numbers I started scribbling down!)  Anyway, I now know exactly how I want to use this little lot (not all that white, I assure you!):

The next part of the super secret project is prepped and ready to go, and I have plans for it and the birds for granny on the train trip down south next week for the work Christmas do in Manchester.  My long suffering colleagues are used to my madness, what's another freaky thing to embarrass them with, right? ;o)

This week I also want to start on my gran's cushions, but that involves a trip to the fabric shop and Dunelm Mills.  I may go after I visit the doc's tomorrow, so I don't actually have to go out again over the weekend.  I also have to hit Tesco too - ugh!

I'm hooking up with:

   WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

(BTW, isn't it nice that those buttons match?)
First Purse Finish

Not long after last night's post I decided I'd start the sewing for my frame purse, and was extremely happy to have finished it half an hour later!  I decided to leave the gluing until today when I could do it in daylight, thus I tackled it this morning:

I'm happy with how it turned out, and that I managed to avoid the dreaded glue-ooze!  Still, it has reassured me that a production line of purses should be pretty quick to put together :o)  

I'm glad I changed how I sewed it together, that is sewing the inner and outer right sides together and turning the right way out through a small opening that I slip stitched shut.  It made it nice and clean around the hinges, and also nice and easy to stuff into the frame!

I also had a play about with wonky stars for a siggy block today to go with my Sew Bee Joyful block:

It was my first attempt at these, and I think I need to learn to measure the 'point pieces' to cross 1/4" up from the edge, rather than trying to eyeball it!  I've now got my Piece Bee With You siggy block to do.

I've also decided to sign up for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day.  Their equivalent day in May netted me so many new friends and blogs to read, that I can only encourage everyone to take part, in hopping around to visit people as much as giving things away.  They've changed up how it works for this round, to try and make it easier for people to find things specific to them, and it's only open to blogs this time round.  I already have my item picked out, now I just have to think up a truly inventive question to ask people to comment on ;o)

Days Of Nothing...

Well, perhaps not nothing exactly, this is me we're talking about!  Anyway, this weekend I have nothing I have to do either today or tomorrow, which is about the first time in 2 months...  

I have spent a chunk of my day today reading several of the books which dropped through my door of late, armed with mini post it notes and pen, and getting tons of inspiration for all sorts of things, including quilts and bags.

First up was Jessica Levitt's Modern Mix: 16 Sewing Projects That Combine Designer Prints and Solid Fabrics, 7 Quilts + Pillows, Bags and More:

There are some seriously ENORMOUS quilts in this book, but all are so fun and modern.  It's easy to see how small parts of some of the quilts or other projects could be used in other ways.  That king size circle quilt on the front is amazing, but I doubt I'll be making one any time soon unless I win the lottery - the solid for the front and the backing fabric requires 7 yards EACH!

Then there was the book pulled together by Suzanne Woods,  Modern Blocks: 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers.  

This has been touted around the blogosphere quite a lot of late, since the blocks inside are made by a pretty large collection of the great and the good in the quilting world.  I went every so slightly mad in this book with the post its.  SO many fab blocks, and with so many potential uses!  There is everything from the simplest of standard piecing, to multitudes of HSTs, to funky applique and cool paper piecing.

Then there was Emily Ciel's latest book, Scrap Republic: 8 Quilt Projects for Those Who Love Color:

This book is worth building up your scrap collection alone!  Again I found ideas that were not just restricted to quilts, I mean couldn't you see a fab cushion from that triangle quilt pattern on the cover?

Anyway, having lounged around for half the day a couple of hours, I decided I'd get my super secret project set up and ready to go.  Here's a bit of it:

What, you thought you were going to get more than that? ;o)

Then I got busy cutting out the pieces from my purse kit I got earlier this month from U-Handbag.

I thought I'd give this a go before leaping in and trying to make my own sketches, but I'm going to veer from the pattern a bit as far as attaching the interior to the exterior goes (it will look more professional at the hinges, and is the method I've seen in many online tutorials)

I also cleaned up my sewing area, and got a kill two birds with one stone moment inspiration from the Amy Butler's Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags book which was lying at the end of the table.  A friend of mine is having a big birthday next month, and I've been planning to make her a bag.  I hadn't decided what sort, but when I flipped through to see what the next bag was in the Stitch Along (which is back in January) I decided that it would be perfect.

I'm going to try shopping my stash first to see what I have in her favourite colours, and will hopefully get going on it tomorrow.

Now if you have any jokes up your sleeve (with a preference for the dirty ones) head over and see my friend Laura at Needles, Pins and Baking Tins who's having a giveaway to celebrate (somewhat belatedly) her 200th follower.

Happy Mail And Circling Geese

Between the parcel I had to pick up at the sorting office this morning and the envelope through the door that I got when I got home from work, today has been a really nice happy mail day.

In the first parcel was my order from Bagpurseframes on Etsy.  I put this order in at the same time as the glue (they kind of go together) but as this was winging its way from China, it took a little longer (was still pretty good timing though!)  Look at all the goodies:

I did think about taking these all out of their wee bags, but then I couldn't face trying to reunite them all again, so you'll just have to imagine them more clearly ;o)  Anywho, that there is 20 purse frames and 10 flex frames, which should keep me going for a while :o)

I also got this:

I just need to brush up on my Chinese now ;o)  Actually, it should be okay, the pieces and percentages of pattern sizes are in the Latin alphabet, and there's plenty of diagrams :o)

For my next bundle of goodness, my Yellow, Grey and Aqua charms arrived, isn't this a pretty selection?

Nope, not a clue what I'm going to use them for yet!  I'm thinking some may be getting united with some of those purse frames though...

Anyway, after I'd finished drooling over this lot, I decided I'd get those circling geese done for the Piece Bee With You block this month.  I thought I'd try a little experiment with this paper piecing as it wasn't hand drawn, and I had multiple copies printed off.  I felt that the previous 2 PP blocks I'd done had rather a lot of waste, as I hadn't really cut the fabric much other than to the nearest square or rectangle size (as advised on a tutorial I read somewhere)  I thought I would try combining the 2 types of paper piecing out there in quilt land - the first utilises a solid paper base as a foundation, and the second uses freezer paper cut to the relevant shapes and the fabric trimmed around.  

I really like the foundation piecing method, but as I had the multiple copies of the circling geese pattern (found here) I cut one copy up into the relevant pieces and used them as templates to cut the bits out with a 1/2" allowance all round.  I knew for a whole block I needed 4 of each piece, so after cutting out the first one for each piece of the pattern, I used it as a template for the remaining 3, which was a pretty quick solution.

This left a satisfyingly small pile of trimmings:

And a pretty nice block:

This is my very first attempt at geese of any sort, so I'm pretty happy with how they turned out :o)
Work In Progress Wednesday

This week has felt seriously unproductive, and yet I travelled 600 miles for a bear fair last weekend, so I guess I wasn't sitting around twiddling my thumbs!

Anywho, here's my finish for last week:

Jimney Thistle was in the raffle at The Great Yorkshire Teddy Bear Event on Sunday, and all the bears together raised about £500.  I went with the bells for his front because although I'd have loved to do yo-yos, my stash just wasn't yielding matching purples :o(  I have enough of this fur to make one more bear, although the next wee guy will have a purple head with orange ears.

Although Hoagy wasn't finished last week, he was handed over to his new owner, so now I can show you his whole picture:

He has a double jointed neck for extra inquisitiveness.

Here's my immediate WIP, can you guess what I'm making? ;o)

This is my Piece Bee With you block for November.  I also have a siggy block to put together, which I suspect will be an improv effort!

I also managed to get the first of granny's birds sewn together whilst relaxing(?!) after the fair on Sunday night, one down, five to go.

Coming up this weekend I have the first wholly and entirely free weekend (well, after a leaving do for a colleague on Friday night).  I'm currently tossing up starting the super secret project, or putting together a dress for the office Christmas party.  I originally had a rather grand plan for this dress, but then we were told that the party would be in Manchester this year, so that caused a bit of a rethink.  I'm now thinking I might reuse the pattern for one of the dresses I made over the summer, the halter neck one.  I've also been weighing up whether to use the original fabric I bought (some fabulous dupion silk that was a bargain price) or to get something else and save it...  Decisions, decisions!

Now just so that I can enable you all in creating your own things, pop on over to Pings and Needles to check out their Go Baby giveaway.

I'm linking up to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Nosey Parker In The Neighbourhood Post 1

Kat, over at Diary Of A Flutter Kat came up with a novel new linky party, where we unashamedly get to be nosey about where our bloggy friends live.  This is the first round, and we had the following questions:

1) Tell us about your home:
Where do you live; (town, state, country that is - obviously not your street address!!)  what is it like e.g. do you live by the beach or a lake or in the desert etc..., is it famous for anything in particular (e.g. industry), and maybe what is the climate like etc... 

2) What are the houses like in your area. Apartment style, Joined, Semi-detached, Detached etc... 

3) What are some of your favourite places to visit or favourite things to do in about your town/city.

4) How do most people travel around your town/city? E.g. subway, bus, bike, what are the most popular styles of car. 

5) Is there a type of food that would be quintessential to where you live? E.g. a famous local produce etc...

So I'm sure you're not sitting on the edge of your seats here... but never mind, here's my answers anyway!

1)  I live in the east end of Glasgow, which is on the western end of the Central Belt of Scotland:

On the map above you can just about see Belfast, in the lower left hand corner, where I'm originally from.  A Belfast boy met a Glasgow girl in Germany, they married and had their girl in Belfast, and moved with her all over the world, and now their girl lives in Glasgow and they live in... Blackpool.  Oh well!

Glasgow seemed to start from a religious site in the 6th century, adding a cathedral in somewhere around the 10th century, followed by a university (the rivals to mine, boo hiss ;o) ) in the 15th century, and then in the 18th and 19th centuries developed as a major port for Trans-Atlantic trade.  With the industrial revolution, it embraced engineering and manufacturing, especially ship building.  It is the largest city in Scotland, and the 3rd largest in the UK.  While the City of Glasgow council area has around 600,000 people, the whole area has about 2.3 million people living in it (about 2/5 of the population of Scotland).

Despite the population density, Glasgow actually means 'dear green place', and as well as many parks in the city, in less than an hour from the city centre, you can find yourself on the shores of Loch Lomond, on the beach down the Ayrshire coast, or up a hill in the Trossachs.  We have been European City Of Culture, we're a UNESCO city of music, have great music and comedy festivals, and so many venues to see things it's ridiculous (did you know, for example, that Oasis were first 'spotted' here?)

Alas, Glasgow does not rejoice in a balmy climate, it gets very cold in the winter, with an average temp of 1 C (and a record low of -17 C), and at an average high of 19 C in the middle of summer, it's not like we're breaking the palm trees out ;o)  Our rainfall would be plenty to float a few boats too.  Oh well, that's what keeps it green, right?!

Snowy tree in front of Glasgow Tenement building, Crow Road

2) Around me there is a mixture of red sandstone tenements, flats and terraced houses circa the mid 80's and some really nasty 60's concrete council flats and high rises.  The tenements (well, the ones in the west end) look fab, have wonderful high ceilings and gloriously big rooms, which in the old days would have housed about 10 times as many people as they do now!  They also have draughty sash windows and are a nightmare to heat, but lets not go there ;o)  I live in a converted flat in what used to be the Labour Exchange building, and I get high ceilings, but modernish-sized rooms.

Just down the road from me is ‘The Cross’ where 5 streets meet, and which has recently enjoyed a lick of paint thanks to the redevelopment work we’re getting prior to the Commonwealth Games setting up camp just along the road in 2014.  My great great grandfather used to sit with his friends for a smoke and a chat under the ‘umbrella’ when trams went all ways around it, and one couldn’t just saunter up the pavement to it!

3)  Living just a mile from the edge of the city centre and the Merchant City, I’m rather spoiled with things to do in town.  I also work right smack dab in the middle of the city centre, so there’s probably a few things I don’t appreciate as much as I should, such as this scene a couple of hundred yards from the office:

When I get spare time with my camera, and the weather is good (these 2 occurrences rarely coincide), I enjoy going to the Necropolis behind the main Cathedral.  Now I know most of you wouldn’t exactly see it as being a good time, going to a graveyard, but people, this is a graveyard on steroids.  It’s like the most giant ‘after death pissing contest’ you have ever seen in your life!  Hundreds of rich merchants, academics and various other members of the ‘great and the good’ of Glasgow in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century are buried here, and the edifices created in their memory are quite something to behold.  They also have quite nice gardens:

Up in the west end, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was recently renovated, and is truly a fun day out, I mean, where else can you see a Spitfire buzzing an elephant and a giraffe, a dog made out of wellies, and a ceiling full of gurning heads?

 Much nearer to home is the People’s Palace, another amazing hodge podge of a museum, but this one is entirely dedicated to Glasgow life.  There is a history of the city, with exhibits of everything from a traditional tenement flat to shops to the slightly more hair raising famous criminals section!  This happens to be right alongside Billy Connolly’s famous banana shoes, but I’m sure there’s nothing in that…  My gran’s neighbour, who recently passed away, was responsible, with his wife, for providing a lot of the display items from the traditional tenement, as well as having been heavily involved in the Glasgow 1955 project, where camera clubs across the city took photos of Glasgow life for an exhibition.

 4)  We’re really rather lucky that in Glasgow the town planners truly rocked the public transport system.  Strathclyde Passenger Transport covers buses, high level trains, low level trains (where the trains run underground through the city centre, but above ground outside that), the subway (affectionately known as the Clockwork Orange because our underground line is circular and the trains are bright orange) and ferries (which cover the Clyde estuary area).  Because of this vast range of options, my commute to work, door to door, takes a grand total of 10 minutes, or 25 minutes if I walk directly (it’s about a mile and a half), or 40 minutes when I walk back via my friend’s house (about 2 ¼ miles)

 In addition to the public transport, they have finally finished the M74, which runs from the border at Carlisle up to Glasgow (and which I can remember them starting to build in the mid 80s, after years of interminable roadworks on trips up to see my gran and papa, and which wasn’t actually finished, for the first phase until the year after I went to uni in 1998)  Now that phase 2 has been completed, I can hop on the motorway in 5 minutes and be straight on the road to the west coast, or heading round to the M8 to hit the east coast, or heading up to the A80/M80 north, or even just following it to its logical conclusion where it meets the M6 to head south.  Right enough, even before they finished it a few months ago, I was still pretty close to these things, it’s just even handier now!

As far as types of cars, the UK tends to mainline smaller cars, and in the city, between the challenges of parking in streets full of flats which were built long before cars were even dreamt up, and the great public transport system, there’s not a huge number of people in the are I live in that have them.  Those that do tend to favour the ‘compact’ models like the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio or VW Golf.

5) Ahhh, food… I think most people in the UK would tell you that Glasgow is synonymous with such delicacies as the deep fried mars bar, deep fried pizza, deep fried burger and battered sausage (are you spotting a theme here?)  As a city it is seriously unhealthy, but fried food aside, it does have some quite good restaurants, although come a Friday morning in the office you’ll frequently find workers tucking into a bacon buttie with square sausage, fried egg and tattie scone…  Come Friday night, the less discerning inhabitants are also to be found tucking into a locally brewed can of Tennents lager (and no doubt any other night of the week too!)

On a broader scale, Scotland is famous for haggis, neeps and tatties, shortbread, tablet and that little tipple favoured by many around the world, whisky.  Although there is a distillery just down the road from me in the Gorbals, it is a grain, rather than single malt distillery, as are the others in the city.  The nearest ‘proper’ distillery is just north of the city at Glengoyne, handily near the West Highland Way, should one feel the need for a little fortification while walking it!