2015 Round-up

Oh boy have I been busy this year!

Whilst making this collage I thought I might try to select my top three favourite projects to share with you. But no way Jose, there's simply no way I could pick just three! It's a little like trying to pick a favourite out of my children. Nope, love them all. So many memories here - and lots more happening behind the scenes, what an awesome year it has been. I still have a few projects in work-in-progress mode (let's face it, who doesn't) - specifically my alphabet quilt, my Farmer's Wife quilt, and my Storytime cross-stitch sampler to mention just three. All are favourites, and none of them are abandoned, but working to some hard deadlines recently has meant that I had to put all discretionary sewing on hold for a little while. Hopefully I can get them all finished in 2016! (me = ever the optimist).

I took advantage of the Christmas break and did a major tidy up of my sewing room and fabric stash, and my computer files. I came across several pictures that I had shared on my Instagram feed but forgotten to share here on the blog! So let's catch you up.

~ cute star ornaments, pattern from Wild Olive ~

~ hexie trays, pattern from A Spoonful of Sugar ~

~ strawberry pincushions using my tutorial ~

~ WIP shot of my storytime 2015 Annual Sampler by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery ~

~ Pam Kitty Morning fabrics - so happy and cheerful ~

~ my new vintage style shopper bike, great for riding all around our small town ~

~ adult colouring books whilst my sew-jo has gone MIA ~

~ beautiful turquoise Liberty of London tana lawn from Ava & Neve ~

~ this is what I do to pears who have been naughty! ~

~ Homespun magazine's 2016 diary, I am one of the designers featured in it ~

~ pretty fabric pull for a secret sewing project ~

~ pear pattern testing for the lovely Frampuna on Instagram ~

~ pretty fabric bundle from a Japanese shop ~

~ love these gorgeous books featuring covers by Anna Rifle Bond ~

~ an EPP mini quilt, hexie tray, and pincushion I made for my secret swap buddy ~

~ another happy fabric bundle ~

~ pile of 28 blocks I made for a Liberty postage stamp block swap ~

~ another fabric bundle - this time pastel coordinates ~

That's it for now - see you next year folks! Sending you all my warmest wishes for a new year filled with love, laughter, and lots and lots of crafty time!

Oh what fun...

..we had on Christmas day!

- before we set them loose on the presents -

- unwrapping frenzy -

- having a picnic -

- my third kid -

- all I want for Christmas is a kiss on those cheeks -

- a Christmas miracle? I'm in a photo -

- do they come in adult sizes? -

It was such a fabulous day! We had a huge roast turkey lunch, and for a change the kids ate some of the meal with us. The greens, honeyed parsnips, and cranberry sauce were particular hits with them - the turkey, bread sauce, and spuds less so (we didn't mind - all the more for us). In the evening we went to our friends' house for more celebrations. Precious memories were made.

Alice's favourite present was this applique t-shirt made by my friend Sarah from Ric-Rac & Retro for her. Paired with her tutu and her new 'ballerina shoes' she traipsed around all day telling everyone that she was a 'princess ballerina'.

Hope you all had / are having a lovely Christmas with your loved ones - depending on where in the world you are!

Christmas pudding anyone?

Gosh it's less than a week till Christmas - it's really crept up on me this year! I wish I could say I am totally organised. It's not too bad, all the presents are sorted (they just need wrapping), but I still need to do some Christmas baking and organise a few teacher presents. Slowly getting there.

You may remember this Christmas pudding project that was published in Homespun magazine's 'Christmas in July' issue. I am permitted to share the pattern now, so as a 'thank you' to all of you who follow, encourage, and inspire me, I will make the pattern available here on the blog until the new year, in case anyone wanted to squeeze a quick project just in time for Christmas (after the new year it will be available to purchase for a nominal fee in my Etsy shop). Download the free PDF pattern here!

I will be back soon with the year's round up, and a bit of a reflection on 2015 and all the excitement I expect 2016 to bring! But the thing I am most excited about right now - it's six days till Christmas, which means it's seven days before hot cross buns hit the shops! Ha ha!


I am so happy to share that I am in the line up official bloggers who will be taking part in Fat Quarter Shop's much anticipated 2016 Crossroads quilt-along, to celebrate the myriad of crossroads in our lives.

As my first contribution to the quiltalong I was asked to share my own life-changing "crossroad" today. It was so hard to just pick one event to share - isn't life just a long string of crossroads, one after the other? Every decision you make, no matter how small or large could have such an impact on the rest of our lives, and the lives of all those around us. But if I had to choose one, it would probably have to be the 'journey of a lifetime' I took with my husband (then boyfriend) throughout 2005/6. In a moment of madness, we decided to take a long break from our hectic city lifestyle in London, and cycle to Sydney for charity. It ended up with us giving up our highly paid executive jobs in London, get married, move to Australia, and have two beautiful kids here.

Here is us, looking all tanned, fit and young, photo taken on a Greek mountain pass after many hours of tough cycling to the top. Altogether we cycled for an entire year, with our tent on the back, roughing it a fair bit. So many memories - good, bad, hillarious, and at times downright scary. Probably the biggest crossroad 'moment' though was meeting an Aussie couple in the middle of the Australian outback, who took pity on our tired and bedraggled states, and invited us to their house in Adelaide (South Australia) for a break to recharge our batteries. We weren't intending to cycle down as far as Adelaide, but the offer of sleeping in a proper bed and having some home comforts after an entire year on the road (and a month in the Aussie desert) was simply too good to resist. We changed our route, and did the detour to Adelaide. So glad we did - we fell in love with the city, the relaxed outdoor lifestyle, miles and miles of empty beaches, the vineyards, the people - well everything really. We had no intention of moving to Australia up till that point - so it was definitely a life-changing crossroad!

As for Down Grapevine Lane - 2015 was definitely a major crossroad year for my little brand. So much was squeezed into one short year! This year, I refocused the business back to my initial vision of designing and blogging (rather than selling hand-made goods, which became all consuming during 2014). I started to quilt 'properly' - not just little patchwork projects but making real big quilts.  I started working with the big fabric houses for the first time. Then half way through the year something really 'big' happened. Then a few months ago something else equally 'big' happened. Needless to say there has been a LOT of secret design and sewing going on behind the scenes over the latter half of 2015 (official announcements coming in the new year). These two major events have really defined the future path for me and for Down Grapevine Lane, and I am SO excited about 2016 and what it will bring. But most importantly, I met so many lovely people in this global crafty community through the powers of social media, and I built a lot of real friendships along the way too. I am so very very grateful for those people (you know who you are!).

Back to the 2016 Cross-roads Quilt-along, as with the 2015 Snapshots quilt-along, the Crossroads quilt along is also for the benefit of a chosen charity. This year's charity is March of Dimes, an amazing organisation whose mission is to prevent pre-mature births and give all babies a fighting chance. You can get more information about this quilt-along and how to join in Fat Quarter Shop's blog. The quilt we will be making is so pretty!

Here are all the bloggers who will be participating in the quilt-along. Pop over to their blogs and read about their crossroads moments!

Vanessa of Lella Boutique
Angie of Gnome Angel
Melissa of Oh How Sweet
Erin of Why Not Sew
Melissa of Happy Quilting

(photo credits: Fat Quarter Shop)

Block 10 Ava Tutorial - Farmer's Wife QAL

Thanks for visiting! Today I will be showing you how to make the 'Ava' block (block #10). This is my second tutorial as an official guest blogger in the Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt Along.


I have machine pieced this block using my 'From Marti Michell' templates - as I mentioned in my previous post I love these acrylic templates with engineered corners, which make it so much easier to line up the pieces, which in turn means more precise blocks. However if you don't have the templates you can still follow this tutorial by rotary cutting your pieces as per the cutting instructions on the CD that accompanies the book.


For the primary fabric in this block I used a Sevenberry cottage floral print in purple. For the coordinates I used a green floral and a lilac floral from my stash, which match the Sevenberry print pretty well (both of those came from scrap packs so I am not sure which lines they are from, sorry).


Before cutting, I always starch my fabric using spray starch - I spray it onto the fabric generously but without soaking, then press it with a dry iron until the starch sets. I make sure the iron is not too hot or it scorches the starch, leaving brown marks. The starch lends stiffness to the fabric which makes cutting easier and more precise, and the finished block looks a lot sharper than it would have been without starch. You can also use products such as Best Press and Flatter to get similar results.

When working with small pieces such as the ones we have in this block, a rotary cutting mat helps HEAPS. I absolutely love my pink personalised one from Sue Daley Designs. It's super helpful with normal rotary cutting, and almost an absolute must-have if you are using the From Marti Michell templates as you have two extra cuts to make on each corner, and that little template slides off so easily if you are trying to rotate the piece by hand. I filmed the cutting process to show you how much easier it is with a rotary mat.

There are a lot of pieces in this block! So take extra care to make sure your cutting is as accurate as possible, as even the slightest error is magnified when you are dealing with so many seams in a block. If you are using the Marti Michell templates you can download the conversion chart here, which has detailed cutting instructions for the templates.


In explaining the steps I will refer to my pieces using the colours in my block i.e. purple, green and lilac. Replace these with your own colours when you are following the steps below. Use a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Step 1. Sew the lilac triangles onto the long edges of the large green piece that will be at the centre of your block. Press towards the central green piece.

Step 2. Sew a green triangle onto a lilac square as shown. Press towards the green triangle. Make 4.

Step 3. Sew another green triangle onto the other side of the piece you created in step 2. The positioning of the second triangle is important - this is how it should look, and you stitch along the dotted line.

Make 4. These pieced triangles should be exactly the same size as your purple triangles.

Step 4. Sew together the triangle you made in step 3 onto a purple triangle. Press towards the purple. Make 4.

Step 5. We are now ready to assemble the block. Lay out your pieces as shown below.

Step 6. Join the pieces into rows. Press the seams of each row in alternate directions (e.g. top row to the left, middle row to the right, bottom row to the left).

Step 7. Sew the rows together by putting them right sides together and butting the seams at the intersections. I carefully pin each butted seam to make sure my intersections are precise. After sewing press the seams open. This is what the front and back of your block should look like.


- Starch your fabric before you cut (I use spray starch and a dry iron (ie no steam) on medium-high heat).
- Make sure your rotary blade is sharp so it doesn't chew and stretch your fabric as you cut.
- I highly recommend investing in a few basic sets of FMM templates - those engineered corners makes it so much easier to line up the pieces and make sure everything fits together perfectly.
- Pin blocks together before sewing. The pieces we are working with are very small so it's easy to be tempted to skip this step - don't.
- Press seams that will intersect in opposite directions so you can 'butt the seams' when you are sewing the two pieces together. I pin the butting seams together using a single pin placed at a slight angle - push the pin down through one seam, and back up again through the other seam.
- Check sizes of pieced blocks before continuing on to the next step.
- If you do a lot of patchwork, invest in a 1/4 inch foot, which makes it so much easier to get that precise quarter inch seam.


Here are the blocks I've made since my last Farmer's Wife quilt-along post (see my previous blocks here). I have fallen behind a little as I am up against some pretty stiff deadlines on a secret squirrel project. Hopefully I will be able to catch up soon!

If you aren't currently sewing along but would like to join the 5300+ quilters worldwide taking part in this mega-quilt-athlon it's not too late! You can find all the information you need on how to join up and key links in my previous blog post. This is the book you will need.


** The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase. **

Happy quilting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...