Friday, 29 October 2010


I am lucky enough to have plenty of sewing machine feet that came with my machine, Janome DC4100. These include:

  • Standard Foot
  • Automatic Buttonhole Foot
  • Blind Hem Foot
  • Overedge Foot
  • Satin Stitch Foot
  • Embroidery / Free Motion Quilting Foot
  • Zipper Foot E
  • 3 Way Cording Foot
  • Beading Foot Set
  • Custom Crafted Foot ( Open Toe )
  • Ribbon / Sequin Foot
Now time to be honest, do I use all of these? To be fair I've given most a go. I still can't work out how to do a blind hem, so that needs mastering. The 4 bottom ones were "bonus" feet but they have not come in handy. I think I might have used the ribbon foot, but that is limited to quite a narrow ribbon.

I mainly use the standard foot, overedge foot, automatic buttonhole, zipper foot and for the odd bit of decoration the satin stitch foot. If I do free motion quilting that foot will be used too. Apart from my first quilt, I've done stitch in the ditch or straight line quilting.

Every now and then I look at the feet that I could have! I'm usually inspired by something I've read somewhere.

On my list of interesting feet are:

1/4 inch seam foot, perfect every time! £13

An Ultraglide ( Teflon) foot for oilcloth? £24.50

A circular attachment - this most excites me although it's £39. I think this would be great for quilting and embellishing things I make. Plus you can use all different stitch settings with it.

Ditch Quilting Foot for stitching in the ditch. If I did more quilting I would consider this, as it's nice to be accurate for a more professional look. £13

Ruffler - although I'm trying to not make clothes at the mo, as I'm never that happy, shopping is more fun with my time restricted time.

I might ask for the circular foot for Xmas. Are there any feet that you find invaluable? Do share!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

present ideas

We are having a birthday this week. Our youngest is turning 4. 4 I know, I can't believe it. Sometimes I feel like I never want my boys to grow up. They are at such great ages, and just like all things in life, once it's gone, it's gone.

Of course, the older they get, the more complex they are. My eldest is just surprising and delighting me with his creativity. We can read complex novels together and both really enjoy it (we're on the Harry Potter series at the moment).

But back to the younger one. It's been quite difficult deciding what to get him. We are very resistant to purchasing more plastic toys, that seem to get everywhere around our house. And of course, having an older brother, a lot of stuff gets handed down. But we have come up with a few cool presents that we think he's going to love.

We have bought him a Vtech Kidizoom Camera (suitable from 3-7yrs). It looks pretty good, you can zoom, do fun editing options and do small movies. I think it's going to be very popular! This is the first working camera that we have bought for either of our children, so I hope that it doesn't cause jealousy with the older one! We will see.

I also bought him a few puzzles and games from a lovely independent toy shop called WigWam in Brighton. There is another great toy shop in the North Laine, on Sydney Street called Daisy Daisy.

The lovely jigsaw we got is by Djeco. I love these, they come in different shaped boxes to fit around the character. They do a ballerina, a pirate, a Knight to name a few.

I love games and when I saw this small card game I couldn't resist. It's Happy Families, which I definitely played when I was little.

The illustrations and design style of these Djeco puzzles and games just make me so happy. I adore their sensibility.

I also picked up this lacing set, which is great for hand eye coordination. You get to make a few sweet pictures.

As my son's birthday is by Halloween, I bought him this very clever torch. In fact I liked it so much, I have bought more of them for other gifts. It doesn't have batteries, you just "wind it up" via squeezing it's sides. Clever!

I have probably spent more than I normally would but he's not having a party, and I can't help feeling as the second child that he misses out on lots because we've already got it/ done it. I hope that he gets a lot of enjoyment out of these gifts, I'm pretty sure he will.

Additional Note: I'm pleased to say that most of my gifts have been bought from independent local shops. And there isn't a huge amount of plastic - phew!

Monday, 25 October 2010

weekend randomness

We went on a family wander through our local park yesterday. It was a beautiful, but chilly, autumnal day. We are capturing the changing colours of the leaves before they all drop.

I love the colours that you see all around at this time of year. It's like summer giving us one last fling.

Bright colours to keep smiles on our faces, even though I could no longer feel my hands.

Fun around the clocktower. Where endless battles are fought.

Always full on fighting with branches and swords.

Beautiful ironwork to enjoy the "secret garden" through.

Stunning skies, against an interesting skyline.

And a rest in the "snake" tree.

I hope you too captured some good weather and good times this weekend as well.

(all photos taken on random with the hipstamatic app - that is everywhere right now!)

Sunday, 24 October 2010


I know I've barely used my sewing machine in the last few months, but that doesn't mean I don't have big plans for it. My list is starting to run a bit long, so I thought I'd list it here (rather than my head) and see if that mobilises me into action!

1. Cushion Cover to match my sister's quilt - for December

2. Midwest Modern Quilt finished - January

3. Place Mats for children x6 - November - I don't have a design yet, but probably something simple, so they can be put in the wash on a daily basis!

4. Denise Schmidt Quilt "Snake Charmer" for eldest son - March or sooner!

5. Castle Peeps Quilt for youngest son - December

There are probably a few more things, that will be added onto this list. I have a friend who is expecting a baby, due on Xmas Day, so they may well get a lovely baby quilt for their newborn.

I need to get some more fabric for the Denise Schmidt quilt, I've been stock piling slowly! With the cushion cover and place mats I'll use fabric from my stash, and I guiltily suspect I already have enough fabric for a baby quilt!

Plus I'm hoping I will get my sewing table very soon as well!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

My new favourite chocolate

Montezumas - made down the road.

Dacia Ray's Peace & Quiet Book

One of the lovely blogs that I read, Dacia Ray, has just shown her beautiful peace and quiet book that she has lovingly made for her son. Dacia has kindly let me share her book with you, enjoy her craftmanship and please go and read her post here.

Quiet Time Book

I have seen soft books in shops to buy, but nothing as personal and special as this. If I had seen this a few years ago I would have made one for my children. It truly is a work of art, a very special book indeed.

Quiet Time Book


Quiet Time Book


As Dacia mentions she was inspired not only from her own childhood book that she had, but also from Empty Bobbins, Moda Bakeshop and Posie Gets Cozy.

Quiet Time Book

Learn how to tie a lace

Quiet Time Book

Learn how to dress yourself!

I think this would be a beautiful thing to make for your own child or grandchild. If anyone else has links to other "peace and quiet" books let me and Dacia know!

Serious Bit:
Dacia gave her kind permission for me to reproduce her photos, they are her copyright, and can only be used with her written permission.

Friday, 22 October 2010

ingenious children

I love the way if my children don't have something, they make it for themselves out of what they already have.

Lately my eldest has been really impressing us with his creations.

He was very ill at the start of term, and he watched Spiderwick on dvd at home. He was really inspired by the film, and he set about making his own Spiderwick Field Journal, using the DVD extras as a guide.

For a boy who begrudgingly writes, this was brilliant!

Next are the never ending lego models. He's creating his own army here.

And after this week's swimming lesson, he had accomplished a few new moves, so he decided he needed some swimming badges to mark the occassion! From left to right, Pencil Jump, Swimming Unaided with a float, Mushroom Float and a Starfish Float.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

quilt front woo hoo

I know it's been a longtime coming, but here is my quilt front. I'm not 100% sure about the orange, but I'm hoping when it's quilted and washed, it will sit a little better!!! In a bright room, it's too loud, but when it's dark ie bedtime, it looks ok!

It's all Amy Butler Midwest Modern. I seemed to have a load of this in my cupboard, left over from other projects, some cut into small pieces. I had to come up with the best layout for it. I decided to go for a busy all over print design, as I've grown to like them in recent years (although simplicity and modern designs tend to inspire me more).

The back is being pieced together also from the Midwest Modern design, but more of the green and pink shades, with a bit of the brown/ orange thrown in to make it cohesive. They are all cut into 5" wide pieced strips. I've got a plain yellow (school bus yellow?) to go with it. I'm still umming and ahhing over pattern design.

Should I make all of the planned back pieces into a quilt top, and just back the quilt with plain fabric? Not sure, not sure.

So far, I've tried to make the backs as good as the front, ie 2 quilts in one. This doesn't seem to be what anyone else does! The fabric is expensive, the time taken on this ridiculous (too much internal debating, which is still going on), the quilts are being made just as spare blankets, although there is another option, I'm weighing up currently (keeping that secret). Yet again decisions decisions! There is this to inspire me and this and this! Thank you Moda Bakeshop!

I've got visitors for the next 3 weeks, so I doubt I'll be doing any sewing, anyway! More time to spend thinking about it then.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

veggie cooking

I got a new cookbook the other week, Rose Elliots New Complete Vegetarian.

I made the cauliflower and leek curry and it was delicious. (photo doesn't quite capture the colour, it was taken with my phone). Husband said it was even nicer the next day.

Also it wasn't spicy, not that the children would touch it! I have a few of her other books and have always been impressed. This is an updated version of her classic book and it is bursting with recipes (but if you like photos in cookbooks of the dishes, there aren't many.). I trust her, so I don't let that put me off!
I'm looking forward to making more dishes. The best thing was I had all the ingredients in the house already, so it was an easy to do job!

Monday, 18 October 2010

batty me

Gingerbread Biscuits made for an early school Halloween Charity Cake sale.

The funny thing was I was getting all stressed about making something and then my husband said why don't you make biscuits with your Halloween cutters! He was absolutely right!

My eldest helped me make the dough, which was great fun. It had to rest for a few hours in the fridge, and by the time I got it out again, I just wanted to do a quick job of rolling it out and cutting out the biscuit shapes. The pumpkin and cat are in my children's lunchboxes today as a treat. The gingerbread recipe is by Dan Lepard in his Exceptional Cakes book. To my mind it's the best recipe I've got for it. Absolutely perfect!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

castle peeps

I have been inspired by the Lizzy House Castle Peeps collection. This is a great fabric range for boys (no flowers or fairies!) and even though Lizzy House is American this range feels decidedly British, to me anyway. It's the medieval people and castles that do it. It comes in three colourways, the blue, a vibrant red/orange and a calming green/ yellow.

I love this quilt idea, download it free from here. Also, it looks pretty straightforward to me, to do as well (which is always a good thing!) As usual it's far cheaper to buy the fabric from an American shop, than a British one (when is that going to change?) Have you made anything with this fabric?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Sponsored 10k run

I would love to be telling you that I'm doing a 10k run, but I'm not! However, my lovely brother-in-law is, around Harewood House in Leeds, on 31st October for Cancer Research UK. His mother died of cancer 20 years ago. If you want to donate please do, his page is here. You can Gift Aid it as well if you are a UK tax payer. The minimum is £2.

I hope this is ok to put here, but having had cancer in both my husband's family and also my brother-in-law's family, plus friends' families it's a cause that I do give to. And I'm always impressed with anyone who can run further than 20 paces (my current ability!).

Apart from that I hope everyone is feeling lovely and happy today. It's yet another beautifully sunny day, which I have to cherish and enjoy, before the sludgy grey winter is upon us!


By the way on a crafty update, I am desperate to be sewing, but this full time working malarkey and kids not getting to sleep till 8:30pm, means I'm shattered. I'm not physically able to get the sewing machine out at 9pm. Know what I mean? Of course, this hasn't stopped my fabric buying for the 2 quilts I am planning for my boys! Quilty Pleasures, lives up to its name!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Another photographer in the family

My eldest took this, I think he's giving his dad a run for his money!

Yes it's me, sitting on the steps outside the Unitarian Church in Brighton, on a very warm October day. He used my (new) IPhone (courtesy of my older sister) with the Hipstamatic app. He did a good job, as it was really busy! I don't know if he did the diagonal on purpose and with artistic intention, but it certainly looks good.

The bag is full of (heavy) library books. My son got one called Witches and Wizards and we've spent the weekend finding herbs and flowers so he can make some magical potions!

Friday, 1 October 2010

lovely films

As Autumn has arrived (proof I’m wearing tights for the first time in 7 months), it’s time to plan for our shorter and colder days ahead. I like nothing better than snuggling up on the sofa and all watching a film together. I don’t know what we’ll be watching yet, some old films and some new gems to be discovered.

This has made me take stock of what I have enjoyed recently. My old list ran something like Usual Suspects, Good Fellas, Cinema Paradiso, When Harry Met Sally,, Fargo. Most of the films that are my favourite were made in the last century, mainly in the 1980s or early 90s.

I think it’s time for a new list.

I’ve probably missed loads of films out but here are some that I’ve really enjoyed and been impressed by in the last decade. Although I have to admit most of them were made in the last 3 or 4 years. I think we missed a lot of films from 2003 onwards (when our eldest child was born) until we got Lovefilm in 2007! Please fill me in on my gaping hole of a film memory!

Possibilities for All Time Favourites:

Moon: Fantastic, atmospheric, psychological, perfect

Juno: Funny, smart, heart warming take of teenage pregnancy!

Kick-Ass : I liked the crazy violence, the humour, the fact it had a big heart. The writing, the performance, the direction.

Stardust : fantastic modern fairy tale. It was brilliant. All the characters, such humour, brilliant.

Little Miss Sunshine

Highly recommended and commended

Me and Orson Welles: The old world charm. The craziness of being young and being with a big headed star.

Damed United: love the tale, Brian Clough, what a legend

Adventureland, I enjoyed the nostalgia, the capturing of youth, the inexperience, the half way house between childhood and adulthood.

17 again: Surprise contender, but for what it was, it was done well (favourite character was the Dad’s best friend!)

City of God: arresting

Brokeback Mountain

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: Totally delightful. See it if you haven’t yet.

Oh Brother Where Art Thou? : Hilarious.

George Clooney Films: Burn After Reading, Good Night & Good Luck, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Michael Clayton

Childrens Films


Curse of the Wererabbit – Wallace and Gromit

Nanny McPhee

Studio Ghibli Films



Nim’s Island



Let me know your favourites and any you would recommend!

Have a lovely weekend, we’re away, as we’re off to a party in Leeds.