Monday, 31 December 2012

The Last Hurrah

I'm not sorry to see the back of 2012 - it's been a hard year. Whilst the media would have us believe it's been a fantastic time, closer to home I've not seen much evidence of good things. Friends with broken marriages, job loses, having to watch every penny, prices rising faster than salaries - there's a lot of misery. The exceptions being Olympic athletes and the royal family.
The esteemed PM has admitted things are not improving, but we knew that already.
I have to hope there will be some light at the end of the tunnel in 2013, preferably not a train coming the other way.
So, in 2012, I started a blog - a start, but must try harder.
I joined a book club, but work commitments meant I couldn't get to the meetings on time. Put this one on the back burner and maybe try again in the future.
Got myself a new hobby - quilting, love this, but such a big learning curve!
2012 was also the year I turned 50. It still sounds so old.

NYE won't see me partying. I'll just let the year slip away, thankful it's over.
I haven't, strictly speaking, made any new year resolutions, but things have to change.
Einstein famously said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I'll try to remember this in 2013.
Happy New Year to all.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Ask And You Shall Receive

During my short time in Blogland I've been lucky enough to receive several lovely packages of fabric and related sewing items from other bloggers. I don't know any of these people in the 'real' world and yet they were thoughtful enough to take the time and trouble to search out suitable goodies, pack them and travel to a post office. Not to mention the expense of the postage. How nice is that?
Getting a little parcel in the post is always great and makes a nice change from those envelopes with windows - they're not exciting, at all.
Yesterday, Frugal Mummy asked for some wool or knitting yarn for a project. I have unused wool, albeit odd balls, so I can send some.
I'm thinking this is a kind of pay-it-forward sort of situation and it encompasses the ethos of the type of blogs I like to read. Some are just about crafting, others have a frugal slant, none are about conspicuous comsumption and the commercial activity that we are bombarded with elsewhere. I like that.
If you are in a position to help out another blogger, pop along to and say hello.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Excesses

According to the BBC, shoppers in the UK will spend £3 billion today.

I'm happy to say that not one penny of it will be mine.
I hope you all had the kind of Christmas you wanted. I relented slightly and bought presents for my 11 month old nephew. I made a patchwork Christmas stocking for the toys to go into, but didn't get a photo. Doh!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Making A List Checking It Twice........

Well, I've checked and I discovered that despite the shops being closed for a whole day, I have enough food in and will not starve. I seem to be in the minority with this revelation, as (almost)everyone else is manically buying vast quantities of stuff they can not possibly need.
Oh well. it's nearly over for another year - no more inane Christmas music everywhere you go and no more interrogations about what I'm going to eat on Tuesday (does it matter?).
I hope you are doing exactly what you want to do, this Christmas and if possible enjoy yourself as well.

I made a quick dolls cot quilt for the daughter of a colleague - used up some scraps. I know my colleague had bought her a toy buggy (stroller!) for the the little girls' dolls, so I'm hoping this will prove useful. It didn't take long and cost almost nothing.
The other day, I saw this great idea - a patchwork bottle. Sounds rubbish, but actually was very effective. Will definitely have to give this a go.

Lastly, I want to say a big thank you to Angela at Tracing Rainbows for her kindness and generosity. Thanks. x

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Perfect Nightmare Before Christmas*

I'm off for a rare night out, tonight. Really looking forward to it. I've been treated to a trip to the theatre. Don't go very often these days, as it really is so expensive - tickets, drinks, city centre parking - it all adds up.
I'll be seeing Carol Ann Duffy's Rats' Tales
It's had superb reviews and it's on at my all time favourite theatre -The Royal Exchange in Manchester.
*The title refers to the press review from The Guardian!

An update to say we had a lovely time and the whole production was excellent. Well worth going to see. Can't praise it highly enough.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Negative Equity

A month ago after selling a few bits on eBay, I received my first ever negative. My upset and disappointment wasn't really in proportion with the seriousness of this happening. There are, of course much more important things to worry about in life, but we all over-react sometimes.
What annoyed me the most was the injustice of it. I felt it was completely undeserved and as many already know, EBay protect buyers but not sellers. You can't leave a negative comment for a buyer, no matter how much they warrant it. This particular woman also chooses to keep her feedback private, so the option of leaving a positive and a carefully worded comment were out.
So I was left with a massive dent in my previously perfect 100% feedback. But I found a solution - of sorts!
Using the site I made a few purchases after looking at the penny auctions - found by going to:-
'eBay tools'
'Feeling lucky bargains'
'Penny auctions'

In reality, I've only actually won two things for 1p. However, the other things I bought have all been pence rather than £'s. I've stuck to buying either toiletries or craft items, with a strict proviso that it was stuff I'd actually use.
Almost all of the sellers are based in China, so you have to be prepared to wait a while for goods to arrive. I find that these sellers deliver faster than they say they will. I haven't had any problems with service or quality.
I did wonder initially how  they could sell for 1p (or 1 cent or 1 euro), but it looks like it is a calculated risk as many items go for much more. Just have to be careful not to get carried away when bidding.
Oh, and did I mention that on these auctions they are almost exclusively free p&p.
So, feedback score almost repaired, very little money spent and I often come home to a little parcel all the way from the far east!


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Game Over....

At the risk of stating the obvious - it's flippin' cold out there!
The solution?
Curtains drawn, PJ's on. Dinner in the oven. Heating on. Heat seeking missiles (cats) fed and settled.
A sofa and a quilt - game over.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Long Payday Gap Menu

Like a lot of people I will be paid early in December. In my case a whole week earlier than usual. The downside to this, of course is the very long wait to January's salary. It's over 5 weeks, so the  budget needs to be managed carefully. I'm stocked up on a few non-perishable item, but need to replenish the basics. A detailed menu plan is in order. Apart from the addition of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, I want to buy in everything in one go, to last me until next payday.
Just in case anyone thinks I forgotten that this is  December regarding my menu choices, I have to point out, I'm vegetarian and I don't do Christmas!

Here's what I'm planning for main meals :-

 Shepard's pie (with artificial Shepard's, obviously)
Lentil stew
Macaroni cheese
Cheese and spinach pie
Pasta pesto bake
Veg curry
Beans on toast
Mushroom quiche
Falfel, houmous and pitta
Veggie spaghetti bolognese
Quorn pieces and veg pie

Each one will be eaten 2 or 3 times over the (long) month and I'll cook double portions where possible. Either to have the next night or for lunch at work.
I've put my shopping list into Mysupermarket and they cost it at £62.05. This includes food for lunches, toiletries and cleaning products.
I've used Tesco prices to get the cost, but I know some things are cheaper at Aldi. I drive past a large Tesco on the way home from work and live within walking distance of an Aldi. So, no extra costs for petrol or delivery.
I'm going to allow £100 in total for this budget and will allow for a bit of flexibility, especially if I spot some good end of the day mark downs.
I a;so plan to use up much of what is lurking in the cupboard. So I'll be eating exremely well for less than £20 a week.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Busy Time Ahead

A consequence of my change of job is that I don't have regular working days. Weekends are a distant memory. So, this week for me, my weekend starts tomorrow. I have quite a lot to fit in!
In addition to the usual domestic drudgery, I have some projects planned.
Firstly, when I last saw my Mum, she gave me this booklet which she'd saved from a September issue of The Telegraph. It came with a heavy hint about how much she liked this cushion,
It;s a Cath Kidston design, made from old embroidered table cloths. I've found some suitable embroidered linen, although it's a bit tatty. It cost me a pound from, of course a charity shop.
I'm doing to tackle this and produce my own version. We shall see!
I've also to make up a patchwork owl cushion. All the pieces are cut, from newspaper patterns I made myself. It;s just a case of putting it all together.
If I have the energy left (I don;t work very quickly), I'll cut out the 182 squares I need for a baby play mat.
Progress update tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Patchwork with Pizzazz

I saw this lovely book in Waterstones recently. I only went in for a quick browse when en route to somewhere else. I quite seriously considered buying it, but thankfully talked myself out of it. Not because there is anything wrong with the book, obviously!
When I got home, I did a quick search of the online catalogue for my local library. It wasn't available at my library, but another one in the borough had one. Just a case of reserving a copy and waiting for it to be transferred to my branch.
Ok, so it took 3 weeks, but an email duly popped into my inbox telling me it was waiting for me. There;s some lovely pictures and in addition to the quilts there are a number of bag projects. Well worth a read and all for free!

Back On Track

So, after a not particular short hiatus, I've decided to get back into the swing of blogging. I seem to have lost my way a little with this blog.
I'm not entirely sure what direction the blog should take. Anyway, I'll get back in to it and attempt to, at least, record my meagre attempts at crafty things!
Well, what have I been up to since last posting. My biggest change has been getting a new job. I've managed to dramatically cut down on the stupid mileage I was doing. So, big reduction on the petrol spend? Yes, but (isn't there always a but?) I've gone from a pleasant drive across the Cheshire countryside to a stop/start journey around the city. It's nine miles, but can take up to 1 1/2 hours some nights. This isn't fun.
During my second week, I was asked to work in Liverpool. Whilst travelling along the M62, I had a minor accident - no physical injury, but very frightening, not to mention expensive. Luckily, I had the AA to call on. I did, however have to stand at the side of the motorway for two hours.
This year has been strange and unsettling. I'll be glad to see the back of it. As for that other thing going on at the end of the month, I just have no interest at all.
I'm opting out!
Back tomorrow with something a bit more upbeat.

Friday, 7 September 2012

I Haven't Got A Winning Smile......

Did I say, yesterday, I'd won the Travelling Stash Box? Well, er...., no. Someone wasn't happy about it and complained. Poor Julia got a proverbial slapped wrist and I'm out of the running.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Win - Win

I don't enter that many giveaways, honest. When I do, it's only if I actually want what's on offer. There's always lots of lovely things out there, but they are not always for me.
Well, not only have I won something, again, but it's from Alabama, USA, again.
This time I've won The Leap Year Traveling Stash Box

I am beyond excited!
The premise was a new one on me, but the explanation can be found on Cherise's Blog (who is also my newest follower - Hello! )
I look forward to getting this, but also have the dauting task of replacing what I take with suitable items. My initial thoughts are that, as it's the first time it's been out of the US, I should add something with an English twist - any ideas?
Anyway, it will be my turn to offer it as a s giveaway at the end of the month, (on the 29th, obviously) so watch this space!
Big, big thanks to Julia at Green Quilts for organising this.

New Books!


My lovely friend, Ali manages a charity shop on the other side of Manchester. A few days ago, she emailed to tell me she had had some quilting books donated. 'Would I be interested, by any chance?' Er... yes!
So, next chance I got, I went for a coffee and a catch up and made my purchases.
They're all over 20 years old, but in lovely condition with loads of exciting colour plates to browse.
I paid the going rate for them, but they were still ridiculously cheap, so a real bargain. She doesn't charge much for books, as the local population don't buy that many. She does, however run an incredibly busy and profitable charity shop.

This one really caught my attention. I'd never heard of Amy Emms, but it's a really interesting read. Seemingly some of her work is on display at York Quilt Museum.  I've been meaning to visit it for a while and now have even more reason. It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive and should make for a nice day out.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

WIP on a BH

Firstly, a warm welcome to my newest follows Alice and Florence and Allison at A Messy House is a Sign Of a Happy Quilter.
My Bank Holiday was relatively productive. I've cut out the basic squares, ready to be made up into blocks. Four blocks completed.
I'm making a quilt for the end of my bed, in pink. I gathered together every last bit of pink fabric I could find in my stash. Hoping I have enough contrast.
After all that slaving over a rotary cutter, I decided to make a quick shopping bag, using up some scrap curtain material I was given.

Of course, it wasn't quick - it took all afternoon. I probably went a bit over the top, as well. Did it really need the front quilting? I lined it with a vintage pillow case, bought know where.
Still it is a good size and has been utilised all in transporting my library books, lunch and shopping. Good job I made it nice and sturdy.
 Been busy during the week, mainly with that work thing, so no sewing done. However, I've managed a bit today.
I've been tasked with making a quilt for a male family member. As he has a connection with the aviation industry, I had the very original thought that I would make aeroplane blocks (never, never say planes, it's aeroplanes!).
I searched t'internet for some ideas and from that made my own pattern, sort of.
I've made this practice block, today out of scrap fabric. As you can see, the tail piece isn't prominent enough. My measurements were a bit out as, squared up it's only about 11 1/2" - I wanted 12" square.
I've only used two fabrics and obviously, they need to have a greater contrast.
So, clever quilters out there -
Should I use more than two fabrics?
Should I make the whole quilt out of these blocks or intersperse with another design?
Any good ideas out there.
Right off to re-do my dodgy measurement for the pattern.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bank Holiday Antidote

As I have no intention of joining the Bank Holiday crowds, out there, the choices being caught in an inevitable downpour or worshipping at The Trafford Centre, I will be cutting up large pieces of fabric into small pieces.

The project I'm planning needs 100 squares plus binding, etc. 52 cut so far, 48 to go. Lets see how far I get today.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


I didn't know what a baby taggie was until recently, but having stumbled across a picture of one on t'internet, I thought I'd have a go at making one for my nephew.
Early Learning Centre make one, in the form of a book, so I planned on expanding on the idea.
It was a great way to use up scraps and some random bits of fabric, not suitable for quilting.
I've tried to make it as tactile as possible - using a couple of pieces of velvet, some satin, fluffy fabrics, textured gingham as well as cotton.
The ribbons are all from a bag of scraps of ribbon I got ages ago from a CS.
Again I used some different textures and fabrics.
I cut twenty five 2 1/2" squares and 25 pieces of ribbon, 5" long. The ribbon is folded and pressed to make the tabs.
I backed it with some cream fleece, taken from my bargain Abakhan fabric. So, the cost was hardly anything.
I'm quite pleased with it and it's kept me quiet all Sunday afternoon! Now, just need to find out if  seven month old Henry is impressed.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Money For Nothing

After the excesses of yesterday - a visit to Festival of Quilts, which meant train fare, ticket cost, cups of coffee and fabric, etc, it's time to reign in the spending. It's 13 days to pays to payday. Can I stay away from the cashpoint until then?
I've got a full tank of petrol, bought after checking for the best price, of course.

I've more than enough food and cat food in. Can't have the mogs going hungry.

That's not my cat, but it looks a bit like Tim.

I've menu planned my lunches for work.

This is the money I have left in my purse

How long can I make it last? The only expenses I can envision are milk, a bit more fresh veg and fruit and putting air in the tyres (remembering, of course that Asda has a min. amount of 20p, whilst others have a 50p min.).
So, barring ant disasters, I don't need any more cash and can give the cards a rest. Let's see how I do!

Friday, 17 August 2012

A Quilty Pleasure

At some point in the 1980's, I went to a gig to see My Bloody Valentine, the punk/rock band, at the Ritz in Manchester. On arrival, we took up the best vantage point, ie. in front of the stage. This particular gig is very memorable because, for once I didn't manage to hold onto spot at the front. The Punks also waiting were extremely aggressive that night and before the band even got on the stage, I was somewhere near the back. Much safer, but not as much fun.
Little did I know that, all these years later, the outcome of that night would stand me in good stead. Why? Well, today I've been to The Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham. Thousands of middle aged and older ladies, in trainers, flocking around fabric stalls. It was difficult to get a look in - no chance of getting near the front, I'll take my chances with the Punks, any day!

This quilt was very large and very impressive.

I liked this Clarice Cliff inspired quilt.

I've got a thing about House Blocks at the moment, so this really appealed.

A lot of work has gone into this one.

This mini quilt depicting tiny quilts on a washing line was cute.

I even managed to spot this Stash Swap quilt from Diane at The Cheshire Quilter !

I liked the hand made signs telling you not to touch the quilts. They were all different and not necessarily in English.

At the entrance there was a place to vote for your favourite quilt. That was a tough call - traditional, contemporary, art - what to pick? I went for one that hadn't got any accolades from the judges, but I liked it.
A long day, but really interesting. Came back with lots of ideas, some money and a slight feeling of inadequacy.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A Dilemma

I would post more...............

but I'd have to remove a sleeping cat from the keyboard.


Welcome to my newest followers Hard up Hester and Pauline.
I've just been looking at my stats and seem to have gathered some extra traffic from unlikely sources. At first I couldn't understand why a couple of porn sites would lead people to my little blog. Then it dawned - titling a post Secrets Lies and Videotape might not have been a good move.
So apologies to those poor unfulfilled souls who arrived at my blog to learn about bargain fabric and not what they expected!
Tomorrow I'll be going to Festival Of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham. Really looking forward to this. It's my first visit. If you're going today (opening day), don't tell me anything!

I expect to come back with a few purchases and lots of inspiration.
I've decided to go on the train. When I worked out the cost of fuel, parking and use of the M6 toll (£11 return!), I couldn't justify spending that on a day out.
I have, of course, used the MSE method of ticket splitting. This has reduced the price of my ticket from £80 down to £31. So, if anyone asks, I'm getting off at Stoke, right?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Secrets, Lies and Videotape

If you find yourself  'Up North' at any point (that's UK, of course), make a visit to an  Abakhan Fabric shop.
There's eight stores in this part of the world, plus some in Estonia and Latvia, but that might be too far to travel for bargain fabric.
Obviously they sell online as well, but here's the secret, in the stores they sell these funny rolls of scrap fabric for...................60p each. I know, what a bargain!

Looks odd, doesn't it, but here's what 3 of these rolls turned into. Picked up on my last visit to the Manchester store.

- Pink fluffy fabric, maybe a cushion cover or yet another cat bed
- large piece of oilcloth
- white cotton velvet
- 2 pieces of animal print cotton, 1 large enough to back a cot quilt
- large piece of cream fleece
-  plain white heavy cotton
- some odd pink and blue man-made fabric, don't think I'll find a use for this
- several pieces of usable craft weight cotton

Well worth a visit. The only downside - they put your purchase in a large clear polythene bag, so you look a bit like a homeless person, or someone just out of prison as you walk back to the car!

p.s. I don't have any lies or videotape.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Food Glorious Food

I've just come back from a few days in sunny Scotland. I didn't come home empty handed!
In addition to a carrier bag of freshly dug up spuds, I went and picked this lot myself, from the garden
Well, I didn't exactly pick the eggs - I've got 2 dozen of them, so quiches and cakes next week. However, they were freshly laid by the variety of chickens roaming the garden and you do have to look very carefully in the shed to see where they are.
My free 'organic veg box' included lettuce, beetroot, peas, green beans, onions, courgette and spinach. The spinach didn't travel too well and has been used first.
Looks like I'll be eating well this week and all for free.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Tesco Fail

Whilst shopping for those essential supplies for a good night in - wine and crisps,  spotted this.......

Posh crisps at a very reasonable 87p a packet or the a bargain multi-buy - 2 for £3.50.
Really Tesco, do you not have staff who can read - someone has to have placed these POS strips (there was more than one) on the shelf edge?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Quick Present

I wanted to add a little something to the birthday present I'd bought for SIL. I made these scented hanging sachets, to go in her wardrobe.
Fabric from stash  (used to be a duvet cover), ribbon from bag of ribbon offcuts, bought ages ago, wadding - just used scraps from supply and dried scented stuff for inside - already had that, unused.
So, total cost - bit of time and lots of care.
Different fabric pattern on other side. I think they look OK and I'm sure I'll make some again.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Busy Bee

It was my turn to provide the pattern and fabric for the Quilting Bee I belong to.  I've only joined one, so far - I know my limitations!
There are only 9 people in this Bee, so that meant I needed to make up 8 little parcels.

All neatly folded......
And tied up with 'bee' ribbon, with a little bee charm in there for good measure!
Wonder what will come back

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Bees and Blocks

 For my very first quilting bee project, I was sent these lovely fabrics. The instruction was to make a 'Wonky Block'. Also, new to me. I spend so much time trying hard to get my seam allowance consistent and  straight, that to be told to make it wonky was counter -intuitive.

 The parcel also contained a fabulous surprise - a chocolate Bee. It's not a trick photo, it really is quite large. I promised myself I wouldn't eat it until the block was done and in the post!
This was my plan for the fabric I received. I'm fairly confident that I have followed the brief properly.

And this is the finished result. What do you think? Too simplistic? Perhaps a bit amateur looking. The learning curve continues. It is, however, square (honest) and the requisite 12" x 12".

Can't wait to see what the finished quilt looks like - there's only 9 people in the group, so far and we are  all making one 12" square block each, per month, for the next nine months. At the end of that, we should all have a quilt each.

The second block involved using some really lovely fabrics and although the instructions were clear and concise, I didn't find it easy to do.
This is my block cut and ready to sew. Triangles are not my strong 'point'.

And the final result - well I'm going to post the picture so that it acts as as reminder of how much progress I've made, in the future. I'm not pleased with it at all. I just can't seem to master triangles and points. I'm hoping practice is the answer.