Ho, Ho, Ho and On We Sew – December

Well here we finally are, it’s December and Christmas is just a week away. When myself and Fiona from Celtic Thistle Stitches started this journey back last January we aimed to work on projects through the year that would see us organised for Christmas this year. And now with Christmas just around the corner I can honestly say that I am organised. With time to spare I’ve had time to work on a few fun projects this month.

The first of these projects is a set of festive table mats. These were totally unplanned, a real spur of the moment project and one that I enjoyed having the time to do. Last week I saw a piece of “Yuletide Labels” from Makower in the remnants bin of a fabric store I regularly visit, one of the curses joys of having a sewing supplies shop at one of the tram stops I regularly use. I couldn’t resist picking up this fun fabric and of course I wanted to put it to use straight away. I decided I would start by making a few table mats. As there were nine different labels on the fabric I cut out one of each to use and insert each into a 12″ square of Grunge Basics. I’ve kept the overall design of the mats simple and used a fun festive fabric on the backs so that they are reversible. Now I look forward to using them.Festive Tablemats | Mud, Pies and Pins

I’ve also been helping my eldest son with a sewing project of his own. He’s stitched up a couple of nine patch blocks which he wants to use to make cushions. I’m really proud of how well he has made these. He chose the charms he wanted to used, organised the layourt himself and did all his own sewing. My only input was to help pinning pieces together and to iron all the seams. The next step is to get both my boys out with the fabric paints so they can both make some backing fabric for the pillows, just one of the projects we will work on in the creative days that are ahead of us.

Sewing with children - nine patches are a good starting point | Mud, Pies and PinsIn addition to sewing this month has seen me concentrate on some edible treats as I cook up some jams and chutneys to have and to gift over the holiday season. I’m not quite done with all of the cooking yet, there are still a couple of chutney/savoury jam recipes that I would like to quickly try out but once I am done with them I will spend an evening getting creative with labels and fabric and get those jars I want to gift all spruced up and ready to pass on.Edible Treats - Chutneys, Jams and more | Mud, Pies and PinsOf course this time of year is all about family and spending time with family, Myself and the boys have been off to Christmas markets and enjoying lots of time together. I have also been spending time building Lego with my eldest. When I was younger I was a big Lego fan so needless to say I was overjoyed when my son also developed a love for it. A couple of years back, when he was just 4, I treated myself to a Christmas set that we built together on Christmas Eve and included as part of our Christmas decor. I decided then that building some festive Lego together would become a tradition of ours. This year I got another set and I decided that we would start building it on the 8th, the first date on which I will allow decorations to be put up in our house. I’m not sure why I say “we built it” because he actually built 99% of it himself. My job was to help pull out the pieces needed for each step but after that I pretty much just sat on the sidelines and enjoyed the whole process. It may have said 12+ and “Expert” on the box but that certainly didn’t deter my little man and he proved himself to most defintiely be the Lego building expert he had claimed to be before he started.

Lego carousel and Christmas market | Mud, Pies and PinsI’m sure the days ahead will see me doing lots more projects together with both my boys. There are snowflakes to be cut, paper chains to make, and I’ve all sorts of creative ideas added to my festive Pinterest board so we won’t be short on ideas or projects to do together over the coming days.

What about you? Have you been linking up with our monthly parties and are you too organised this year? Or are your still working on projects? If you are, you still have time to get them finished and join in our month link party. This final link party is being held by Marie over at Quilts with Personality. Marie had shared her tutorial for the most gorgeous reindeer table runner, a perfect festive project to round up this year of link parties. As always the link party will be open to the end of the month, so there is still plenty of time to join in the Ho, Ho, Ho and On We Sew fun.

Christmas Link Party Button2For this last link party there are two great giveaway prizes: a copy of Katy Jones’s “25 Patchwork Quilts” book sponsored by Fiona at Celtic Thistle Stitches and a AU$30 voucher to spend at Amitie Textiles courtesy of  Quilts with Personality. I hope to see you over at the link party and look forward to reading all about your festive makes.

Winter Sparkle

What do you think of when you hear the term “winter sparkle”? I think of snow and snowlakes, of trees indoors and out, of christmas lights and tinsel, of moonlit, snow covered hills. So of course when I wanted to stitch a winter sparkle themed fabric ATC for the latest round of the Very Berry Handmand ATC Swap these were the ideas that I wanted to play with.

I started with a crocheted snowflake. I really love making these and have made quite a lot of them as part of my christmas ornaments so I really wanted to incorporate one into my design. Once I had the first snowflake in place on a background of onyx Grunge Basics. I went on to backstitch some more using a mix of pearlescent and plain white embroidery cottons along with silver and white metallic threads. The finished “Snowflakes” ATC is a little refelction of my love of night time snowfall.

"Snowflakes" Fabric ATC | Mud Pies and PinsBecause I had this first ATC finished well in advance of the postage deadline I went decided I would try out a couple of other ideas that I had. I had come across a pretty design for a hand stitched Christmas tree online that I knew I wanted to stitch. After scaling it down to size I stitched it with single strands of embroidery thread blended with metallic threads. Instead of stitching the gifts under the tree as per the pattern I created them with Northcott Artisan Shimmer fabrics, each one neatly tied up with some metallic silver thread and then my “Under the Tree” ATC was finished.

"Under the Tree" Fabric ATC | Mud Pies and PinsThe final idea that I wanted to try out was a simple moonlit snow scene. I started with a couple of hills appliquéd on the same Grunge fabric I had used for the first ATC. The first layer of sparkle came from the Dreaming in Pearle fabric I used for the hills. I then added layers of stitching in white and silver metallics; moonlight dancing across the surface of the snow. Some trees in silver, and a full moon brighlty shining from the sky above finished off the scene in my “By Moonlight” ATC.

"By Moonlight" Fabric ATC | Mud Pies and PinsWhen it came to deciding which ATC to send my partner I found it very difficult to decide which one I should send but in the end I asked the advice of a friend who told me I should simply send the ATC I had made first because that was the idea that I had first, was what I had decided to make when I started stitching for the swap and was what I would have been sending anyway if I hadn’t had the extra time to play around with my later ideas.

My ATC in in the post and should hopefully soon be at it’s new home. On the same day I posted off my ATC I was delighted to find that an ATC had arrived in my postbox from my partner. I couldn’t be more delighted with this little beauty. Not only does it include lots of my favourite colour purple but it is full of sparkle and delight. A real beauty that I will cherish.

Winter Sparkle  Fabric ATC received by Mud Pies and Pins

Sewing Mojo – Lost and Found

It’s been a while since I’ve been seen around here but I’m back again, at least for now. I seem to be losing my sewing mojo a lot of late and that means I don’t really haven’t had much to share. That’s not to say that I’ve been completely idle. I’ve been working on a twelve days of Christmast project which will involve 12 embroidered panels and 12 printed fabric panels. I’ve finally finished a knitting project that I started working on last winter. I’ve been helping my six year old with a few sewing projects that he is currently working on and I’ve been doing a little more paper piecing. This time I’ve been paper piecing snowflakes.

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and PinsA few months ago I signed up for Curly Boy’s Instagram Mini Quilt Swap. At first this was to be a smallish swap limited to 100 swappers but it soon snowballed into what I have come to think of as a “super swap”. These super swaps are larger, fragmented in several sub-swap groups and I have to be honest and say that I have not had the best of experiences with them. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy swapping and I have always been delighted with what I received, but part of the whole reason I enjoy swapping is the friendships and contacts you make, often with your swap partner. This is something I find to be distinctly lacking in these “super swaps”. I find it very difficult to sew for someone who does not have an online presence in any shape or form, whom I cannot stalk and find out about their likes and dislikes and who I cannot build up any sort of rapport with. It is very frustrating to try to sew something for someone you do not know when all you have to go on is a few lines of text regarding their likes and dislikes. It was not really surprising then that my sewing mojo went walk about when, for the second time, I discovered I had a swap mini to work on but pretty much nothing to inspire me as to what would best suit my partner. In the end I let Canuck Quilter’s Snowalong that I discovered back in late October be my inspiration. I really loved her snowflake designs and hoped that my swap partner would too. It wasn’t hard to decide what fabrics I was going to sew with. I started with some of my new favourite Grunge Basicis in Peacock for the background and some more in Sugar Cookies for the first snowflake.

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and PinsI decided that I would not only use a different design for each of the snowflakes but that I would also use different fabrics. For the second snowflake I selected some Timeless Treasures Dreaming in Pearle in ivory which brought a lovely sparkle to the mix with it’s pearlescent dots.

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and PinsNext up was some tone on tone white from Sandy Gervais’s Snap Pop collection,

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and Pinsand for the final snowflake I selected another tone-on-tone unknown gingham style fabric I had purchased up at my local craft store.

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and PinsTo give the quilt a sense of movement and to add yet more sparkle I quilted the whole in one large spiral using Madeira metallic thread in white.

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and Pins“Snowstorm” was finished with Dreaming in Pearle binding and measures 20″ square. Despite it’s rocky start I am more than delighted with this quilt and can only hope that my partner will like it every bit as much as I do.

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and PinsI think there are a few lessons that I have learned from making this quilt. The first is that I most defintiely need to stitch more snowflakes for myself as they really are such beautiful designs. The other lesson I have learned is that I need to limit my future swap activities to smaller more intimate groups and there are plenty of those out there. There are several groups that I have had nothing but great experiences with and that I intend to stick with, but when it comes to “super swaps” I think it’s defintiely a big no thanks from me in the future.

Snowstorm mini quilt | Mud Pies and PinsWhat about you, if you swap is there a particular types of swap that you enjoy ? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

How I Came to Enjoy Paper Piecing

Have you ever tried paper piecing? What do you think of it? I must admit that while I have tried it in the past I’ve never really enjoyed it. I think that may be due to the projects that I tried. Although I can happily chain piece four hours I find I am not generally a fan of repetitive tasks and so given that my past trials of paper piecing saw me piecing together eight segments for one block, again and again, it is perhaps understandable that I wasn’t too much of a fan. However, following the paper piecing class held by Karen from easy patchwork at Peaks I have discovered a new admiration for this method of piecing.

PaperpiecingIn Karen’s class we constructed a lovely leaf block. There were just two pieces to the block, both different and that was it. That is was possible to create something so beautiful so easily, and so quickly was definitely a turning point for my relationship with paper piecing.

LeafKaren had suggested a number of ways in which we could use our leaf block including on a cushion or wallhanging. I choose to incorporate mine into a table mat. The leaf block had been constructed from scraps of some autumnal Sandy Gervais fabrics that I had in my stash and I choose to combine them with Grunge Basics in Peacock as my background fabric. I toyed with several ideas for quilting the mat but eventually decided to stick with the leaf theme. I stitched in the ditch around the leaf segment in the block and then continued the stitching so that I outlined a whole leaf shape incorporating the pieced block. I then added a few more scattered leaves and the overall finished effect reminds me somewhat of leaves in puddles, a sight that can be all too common in autumn time.

Pieced matIf you would like to have a go at making this block yourself you can find a copy of the pattern available in Karen’s Craftsy store. I’ll definitely be making more, as one table mat is rather lonely all on it’s own.

My New Obsession

How would you like to open your curtains to a view like this every morning? Peaks 6 Retreat - View from Les 4 Vents, Morzine, FranceWell I had the pleasure of doing so for a long weekend at the start of the month when I attended the Peaks retreat in Morzine, France. This biennial 3-day retreat is run by the lovely Elita from Busy Needle Quilting and after the wonderful experience I had at the retreat when I attended for the first time last April, I was more than delighted to be able to attend again this time. For three days I joined Elita, her helper Gina and 13 other lovely ladies as we invaded the chalet Les 4 Vents in Morzine. We were very well looked after by our hosts who provided everything we could want. The accommodation, the food, the location, all were perfect. Even the weather was at its best, with plenty of sunshine and warmth. We even had the pleasure of being able to dine al fresco each lunch time. Life doesn’t get better than that!

Peaks 6 Retreat - View from Les 4 Vents, Morzine, FranceThe schedule at the retreat is very relaxed, there were three different classes, a couple of fun evening activities and lots and lots of free sewing time. The first class, on Friday morning, was on the spinning card trick star that I showed you in my last post.

Peaks 6 Retreat - Spinning Card Trick Star Block Quilt | Mud, Pies and PinsThat evening we had the stash attack project and I’d like to share my makes from that with you today. We started with some 3” fabric squares, mostly taken from Elita’s scrap stash and learned a new-to-me, and probably new-to-most, technique for quickly chain piecing 1” squares from our 3”scraps. Most people then went on to use their pieced squares as a design element in a sewing machine mat with hanging storage pockets. But as I already have a mat for my sewing machine, and didn’t need to make another, I decided I would put my pieced squares to a different use.

Peaks 6 Retreat - Liberty and Grunge table mats | Mud, Pies and PinsAs I was piecing the squares from some Liberty scraps I had brought with me I couldn’t help but notice how well they coordinated with the Grunge Basic Sugar Cookies hexagons I had left over from making my tree-skirt-that-wasn’t and decided I would have to pair up the two. I inserted a 2×10 strip of 1” Liberty squares into each hexagon and had the basis of some rather fun table mats. I had brought a few other pieces of Grunge Basics with me and selected some in Raspberry for the backing and binding. I decided to mirror the front design on the back by inserting a strip of the Sugar Cookies into the Raspberry. Before binding I quilted the mats with a simple diamond design.

Peaks 6 Retreat - Liberty and Grunge table mats | Mud, Pies and Pins Peaks 6 Retreat - Liberty and Grunge table mats | Mud, Pies and PinsNow I have to say that I think I became slightly, or should that be totally, obsessed with the Grunge Basics at this stage. I love the play on colour in the fabrics, how well the work as background fabrics and how stunning they look combined with the Liberty prints. I will definitely be teaming them up with Liberty fabrics a lot more in the future, and I intend to add plenty more to my stash as I really am quite in love (read obsessed) with them. I guess you could say that not only have I brought home some great makes and wonderful memories from the Peaks weekend I have also brought back a new obsession.

I hope you’ll pop back later in the week when I’ll share the last of my Peaks makes. In the meantime I’ll leave you with one of my many great memories from the weekend – the view from my sewing table!

Peaks 6 Retreat - View from Les 4 Vents, Morzine, France