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At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Couldn’t get to grips with my Toyota, no matter how hard I tried
Couldn’t figure out the tension, couldn’t put the bobbin in
Every broken needle and snapped thread sent me scuttling for the gin..

But I survived, oh I survived
I mastered all the basics and then I thrived
Watched the videos on YouTube, figured out my quilting foot
Made some cushions and a quilt and I was absolutely hooked

So I started a new blog and wrote with all my heart
About the trials and tribulations of mastering my chosen art
I’d like to spend my days sewing but I have to work to pay
for all the fabric, tools and notions and the odd cake in a café

And I survived, oh I survived..

Happy New Year! Oh I know that it’s been months and months since my last blog post. I hope that you like my little attempt at humour. I’ve been thinking about my sewing ‘journey’ lately. If you’ve read the About Me section then you’ll know that I really was utterly hopeless at sewing when I was at School. I was actually banned from using the sewing machines and that was really it for the sewing until my late twenties when I must have expressed some sort of interest and my mother in law found me a second-hand sewing machine.

My initial attempts at sewing on my machine were quite fraught and I seem to remember that there was a great deal of swearing, a lot of snapped needles and a lot of snapping at the husband (then long-suffering boyfriend). Initially, I think that I just wanted to make a few cushions for our sofa and I don’t quite remember why I became interested in patchwork and quilting. My mum taught me to hand-sew hexagons when I was younger but her sewing was mainly for practical reasons and, from what I remember, she sewed by hand. I can’t remember her using a sewing machine at all…

I started this blog in 2013 and I really think that I have learned quite a lot in the past four years:

– I know how to put together a quilt-top and bind a quilt.
– I have learned a variety of English Paper Piecing techniques.
– I know how to make blocks using the Foundation Paper Piecing technique.
– I can put in a zip and use my zipper foot.
– I think that I can just about put piping in a cushion!
– I can use my darning foot and have even attempted free-motion embroidery.
– I have even attempted some applique!
– I am still working out triangles..
– I have rediscovered a love of embroidery

Over the years, I have purchased a variety of sewing books and some have been more helpful than others. So, just in case I have any new readers who have made a resolution to learn to sew this year, I thought that I would list those that I have found to be the most useful:

– Quilting, Patchwork and Applique (published by Dorling Kindersley) – This book is really comprehensive and has very clear instructions with really good visuals too. Its contributors include some well-known quilters.
– Sewing in no time
– Quilting in no time
Both of the above are by Emma Hardy. Again, they feature really good step-by-step instructions and there are a variety of useful projects to help develop skills.
– The Liberty book of Home Sewing – Probably better to buy this once you’ve mastered the basics. It’s just really pretty!!
– Quilting on the Go by Jessica Alexandrakis – A good introduction to the techniques of English paper piecing.
– Material Obsession – Authored by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke. Really lovely quilt designs. I love Sarah Fielke’s use of colour.

Of course, whilst the books have definitely helped, I’ve probably learned the most from attending classes. Over the past few months, the lovely Christine of Strictly Fabrics has been teaching us a variety of new techniques particularly for EPP. I’ve not been terribly brilliant at completing projects but I am delighted to report that my first finish of 2018 is this hand-pieced clamshell cushion:

Clamshell cushion

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I bought this pack of fat quarters as I thought that the material was really bright and pretty. I particularly like the elephants! The colours are very vibrant and the above photos don’t do them justice. I must work out how to take better pictures using my phone! Perhaps that should feature in my new year’s resolutions…

I also used this fabric pack to make a tote-bag with a Dresden plate:

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This was given as a Christmas present to a member of our family who is also a Girl Guide Leader so I hope that she can use this to carry some of her crafty bits and pieces!

So where will my sewing journey take me this year? Well, for a start, I hope to finish some of the projects that I began in 2017. This includes three quilt-tops that all need to be completed and then quilted. I think that the end of last year was somewhat consumed with work so I hope to try to make more time for stitchery this year. I have also signed up to a Facebook event that is being run by Betty’s Sewing Box called A year in Stitch which is a commitment to add at least one stitch per day to your work for a whole year. I have a couple of embroidery projects that I am working on so I hope that I might be able to achieve this. Embroidery can be fitted into a lunch-hour or done in front of the television on these dark winter nights when we have little motivation to do anything other than hibernate and huddle in front of the log-burner..

Well, I think that’s enough of my ramblings for one evening. Wishing you a very happy and quilty new year that is filled with fabric and lovely projects!

April x

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