Having Fun Retreating

I admit I was a little worried about this year’s retreat as many of my friends weren’t going. Due to some other commitments I couldn’t participate in all the hype beforehand either although I did enter the sample swap and name tag swap before realising that I would be swamped with other things. I made a name tag for Di of Willowbecks Designs, a lady I absolutely love. She is one of the nicest, most generous and beautiful people I know so I wanted to make something beautiful for her. I think I managed it but as I completely forgot to take a picture of the name tag you’ll just have to trust me on that one. I got the best name tag, which the lovely Trash made for me when my partner opted out a couple of days before the retreat.

My name tag from Trash

Friday’s classes were a fantastic start to the weekend as I was first taught to hand quilt by THE Jen Kingwell. I admire Jen tremendously and learned so much in her class. Hand sewing is my thing anyway and I’ve always loved the look of hand quilting so it was fun to get a chance to get tips from the expert. I got very little done in class but came away with so much knowledge.

Jen Kingwell with her Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt

Afterwards I went to a class I had hoped to get into last year: TouchDraw with Lynne from Lily’s Quilts. I use TouchDraw all the time to design my English Paper Piecing patterns and thought I knew my way around this app rather well. Boy was I wrong. I learned a ton of things and came back absolutely amazed at how much easier I could make things for myself. I’ve had a little play with TouchDraw since coming home as I wanted to make sure I don’t forget all the tips and tricks but nothing I can show you yet.

In the evening I went for a wonderful meal with 15 lovely and creative women and had an absolute blast. I was a very happy bunny when I went to bed.

Saturday started with another fantastic class: Screen printing with Karen from Blueberry Park. I’ve admired Karen’s work for a long time and have bought a few things. I was incredibly excited to meet her and get to do some printing. Most of my materials had been left at home as I packed my suitcase in a rather haphazardly way, it seems. I had a hoop, a craft knife and some paint and begged, stole and bought everything else and came away with two different designs that I really love. I’m really excited to make something with my two panels and am desperately trying to find the time to do some more printing soon.


The afternoon was a return to hand stitching and Jen Kingwell. She gave us her ‘Green Tea and Sweet Beans’ pattern and lots and lots of tips on how to make hand sewing easy and fun. This kind of hand sewing is even faster than EPP and seems more relaxed. Once you’ve cut out all the pieces the sewing is really quick. It’s just as portable as EPP but gives a completely different effect. I didn’t like the background fabric I used for the block I had chosen (I used the background I had brought to print on in the morning) so am going to start again with some different background fabric. I know I shouldn’t event think about starting this project as I really need to finish my Spring Carnival first but as soon as that is done I’m starting on GT & SB and won’t stop until it’s finished and hand quilted!

Jen Kingwell and I

Saturday evening saw the return of quilt market and I did buy some fabric. I couldn’t resist some Oakshotts and some Cotton and Steel. All in all I was very restrained as what I really wanted was a big fat quarter bundle of Oakshott but there was the slight problem of no room in the suitcase…

Pub quiz; you either love it or hate it. I enjoy a good pub quiz although I’m usually the one smiling and nodding while everyone else is giving the answers. This time, however, it was all about fabrics, designers and books and I knew quite a few of the answers. So did the others, though, so I was still sitting there nodding and smiling. And the nodding and smiling paid off as we won. We were allowed to choose a pattern from a selection of patterns and I picked Jen Kingwell’s ‘Steam Punk’. I have no idea when I’m supposed to find the time to make it but, to be honest, I’m just happy to have it in my house.

Sunday morning saw me traipsing back to the Baden Powell House with no materials for my last class. I’d bought the materials before leaving for England but had to leave them behind as there was no space in the suitcase. That’s what I get for sharing a suitcase with a six year old. My last class was with Amy Smart, who I’ve admired for a long time. She’s written a great book ‘Fabulously Fast Quilts’ and we were going to make one of the quilts from it. I walked into the class and told Amy that I was happy to be the pressing girl and thus help out all the other ladies. Luckily for me the wonderful Di from Willowbeck Designs was in the class too and I ended up pressing and sewing for her while chatting non stop. It was a truly great end to a fantastic weekend.

Di, Amy and I



It’s Almost Time

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2013 is almost upon us and I’m joining in with the linky party here.

My name is Elisabeth and I live in a small village in lovely Cambridgeshire, England. I won’t be here for much longer though as I’m moving back to Switzerland in August. I usually look like this:Me, myself and I

(although I’m hoping to get a visit to the hairdresser’s in before FQR) and will be wearing this:

Name Tag by Leanne (She Can Quilt)

My fabulous name tag was made by the incredibly talented Leanne from She Can Quilt. She’s one of my quilting heroines so you can imagine how it feels to have a name tag made by her. That foundation paper pieced ‘e’ is 1″ square!

I’ve been sewing since I was a girl but only started quilting a couple of years ago. So far I’ve only made one quilt, although two are now ready to be basted and quilted in the next few days. However, I have made quite a few mini quilts and cushion covers. My favourite is hand sewing and I love drawing and sewing my own English Paper Piecing patterns. There are a couple of free patterns on the tutorials page if you are interested and I’m working on two more which will hopefully be added soon.

I also make bags. This one was made especially for the retreat with some Boho for Moda mini charms although I’m now in quandary as it doesn’t go with any of my coats or cardigans. I might just have to make another one…

Boho Bag

My classes are: Improv with Lu Summers, English Paper Piecing curves with Julianna and Joanna, Flexi purses with Tacha Bruecher and Hand Quilting with Mandy. I’ve got all my materials ready (except for quilting needles and embroidery floss) and have put my name on my mat, ruler and rotary cutter. Oh yes, I’m ready.

London Star

I’m really chuffed today.

One of the classes I took at the Fat Quarterly Retreat was the Designer Challenge where Katy and John got us to think about shapes and design quilt blocks. Most of my drawings were just blah but when we had to think about stars I designed a block that I quite liked. When John said he hadn’t seen anything like that before I took a quick  picture before handing over my drawings.

Back home I couldn’t get my star out of my head and decided to try and sew it up. I sat down, did the math and got it all wrong. When I sewed up the parts that make up the block they ended up way too big. Back to the drawing board….

I decided to actually cut out the components and go from there. I had to adjust my measurements quite a bit but plodded on too stubborn to give up (one of my most prominent traits according to Master). I’m so grateful I did as this is what I ended up with:

Do you like it? I love it. It’s not quite like my drawing but I think I actually prefer it like this. There are so many tiny pieces it takes forever to cut them all out but I think that time is worth it. Now, my math still didn’t quite work the way it was supposed to and the block ended being 11″ rather than 12,5″. Mmmh, not sure if I should just leave it at that or try again. This block will be turned into a cushion for a special person. One day I may even go back to it and make a quilt. Would be fun, wouldn’t it?

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2012 – Part 2

Hello again! I meant to write this post earlier but Little Miss Bossy-Boots was very unwell an didn’t want to leave me for even one second. Poor Little Miss has tonsillitis. She’s getting better but refuses to take the antibiotics the doctor prescribed.

Anyway, back to the fantastic adventure the Fat Quarterly Retreat was. Saturday morning I got up and had a lovely breakfast with Amy who I met perchance in the breakfast room. Getting back to my room I was so excited that I went through all my stuff again just to make sure I had everything I needed before making my way to the Baden-Powell House. The Fat Quarterly team were sitting there, greeting us and giving us goodie bags.

Now, I don’t know if you have noticed that I made a name tag for Annabella for the name tag swap but never showed you the one I received? That’s because I didn’t get mine till Saturday morning and my swap partner was  the uber-talented Tacha! Can you imagine how excited I was? Luckily for everyone at the Baden-Powell House I had lost my voice that morning so nobody heard the deafening squeal that was (not) coming out of my mouth.

I also got a sticker with my name on and a Bingo card with six names of attendees which I had to find and get to sign my card. Great little ice-breaker. I have to admit that I haven’t looked at that many female chests ever before. I found my six girls in the end but chatted with at least another 5o in the process and got to meet some really lovely people.

After a nice cup of tea and some biscuits I went to my first class which was frame purses with Katy. The sewing bit went really quickly, Katy explained everything beautifully, and I was very pleased with the look. However we didn’t have time to finish off our frame purses as it was time for lunch. Katy told us to grab her after our next class and she would show us how to glue the frame onto the purse. We did and it was really quick and easy although I managed to get mine a bit wonky. No reflection on Katy’s teaching skills but rather on my non-existent multitasking skills as I was trying to glue my frame and sew for the ironman challenge at the same time.

After lunch, where I got a platter of food especially prepared for me as I’m garlic and olive oil intolerant (I know, I know. Very sad), I headed upstairs  for the sample swap. I had seen so many gorgeous things on Flickr and was a bit nervous that my pouches wouldn’t be good enough. I think they were well received by my swap partners Teresa, Nicky, Emily and Di.

I absolutely adore the gifts I received. When I was taking the pictures Charlie insisted on being in it as well. I’m a softie so I let him sit on my sewing table and stay in the picture..

After the swap I grabbed my sewing machine to take Lynne’s class on paper-pieced pillows. I’m a complete beginner and in my ignorance chose the double circle of flying geese which is not a beginner’s piece. With Lynne’s encouragement I went ahead anyway and managed to almost finish one quarter of it. Sorry about the wrinkles; I took the pictures while unpacking.

Paper-piecing seems to be like marmite, you either hate it or love it. I loved it although the concentration I had to put in meant I stopped breathing for the entire class.

Afterwards I met up with the others from my Ironman group, Amy, Lucy, Muriel, Ruth and Tammy (have I forgotten someone? If I have please forgive me). We got some Savannah Bop by Thomas Knauer to play with. As a novice in quilting I didn’t really say much during the design stage but once the sewing started I did my bit. We didn’t manage to finish that night so when I came back Sunday morning I continued sewing on the sashing. I’ll show you the finished quilt top in the next post.

Although there was more fun to be had with a pub quiz I had to give up and go to bed.

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2012 – Part 1

What a fantastic weekend! I really and truly had the time of my life, made some friends and found lots of inspiration.

The Fat Quarterly team and teachers did a fabulous job, everything was well organised and so much fun. They made sure that no one sat in the corner by themselves but joined in and had a blast. The classes I took were great and very inspirational. In fact, it’s a shame this week is half term as I’m dying to get behind the sewing machine to finish off my paper pieced cushion cover and make some more portholes. More about those in my next post, though.

Now, before I continue I have to admit that I am a bad blogger as I hardly took any pictures at all. I was simply overwhelmed by all the friendliness and was chatting too much (is that possible at a retreat?) and in the process forgot to take the camera out.

Friday I hopped on the train to London with my sewing machine on my shopping trolley and three bags. I had already decided to take a cab as I could not imagine dragging my machine up and down stairs to get on the tube. The cab driver almost collapsed when he lifted my Bernina into the cab. She’s a very heavy girl, my dear Wernina (my uncle Werner bought her for my aunt Tania who then gave her to me, hence the name). I think I might have to save up for a lighter machine for the next retreat. Anyway, I got to the hotel where I met the first two participants, Leanne (She Can Quilt) and Susan (Canadian Abroad). My room was very bijou but equipped with an ironing board, iron and hairdryer. I have no idea where I could have put the ironing board had I wanted to use it but it was a nice thought….

At 5.30pm I made my way to the lobby where a bunch of us was meeting up to go to Tikki Patchwork together. I bought some fabric, of course.

I don’t know who the above fabrics are by but I also bought some Bug Jars from the Backyard Baby Collection by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller Fabrics.

Natalie Lymer’s Woodland also came home with me. I want to make some Christmas cushions that aren’t too christmassy and I think those little toadstool houses are perfect for this project.

After our little shopping trip we all went for a lovely meal before going back to our hotels and rooms to get a good night’s sleep before the start of the retreat.

I’ll tell you all about Saturday in my next post. See you then!


The Fat Quarterly Sewing Retreat in London is very soon, in fact it’s only ten days away. This has made me panic a bit (this happens to me quite a lot) as I still haven’t got all my supplies or my swap gifts. I signed up for almost everything you could sign up for thinking it would be fun and help me meet lots of people. For the swap we have been put into groups of five which means we bring four gifts (all the same) and get four gifts (all different). How cool is that? I’ve seen a few of the things people are bringing in the Flickr group pool and with every new picture popping up I hope that I will be in that person’s group. The stuff people have been making is fabulous!

For ages I couldn’t decide on what to make for the swap but on Monday it finally hit me: The sugar loaf pouch. The pattern is by the lovely Lisa Lam from U-handbag and I bought it ages ago. Then it just sat there and from time to time I looked at it and thought “I have to make one of these pouches, they’re s cute”. Now I can add “and so addictive”. I love them and they are so handy, just big enough for a phone and some other bits and bobs or sewing supplies or medicines and plasters or….

Will I be able to stop after four, the number of gifts I need to bring? Watch this spot!

PS Did you notice I didn’t put any metal hook snaps on my pouch? Well, I only had three at hand so I left them off completely. I just couldn’t wait….

Name Tag

Despite being in bed most of the week with fever, nausea and diarrhoea I managed to finish the name tag for the Fat Quarterly Sewing Retreat! Funnily enough it looks nothing like I imagined when I first squiggled down some ideas. I’m happy with it and I just hope my partner will like it too.

I fussy cut a double decker bus, London cab and Union Jack from the “Cool Britannia” fabric that I bought especially for the retreat (I ordered mine from Claire at Patch Fabrics if you’re looking for it). Add to this a bit of linen and a crisp candy stripe and you have a combination that looks rather nice and very british. Are you wondering where the name is? Well, as it’s a secret swap I can’t show it yet but I can tell you that it’s embroidered in a dark blue stem stitch.

I couldn’t stop, though, as I really loved the combination of the three fabrics and made a pin cushion and zippered pouch as well. It’s a good thing I had to go and get Little Miss Bossy-Boots or there’s no telling what I would have sewn next.

Hope you have a lovelier weekend than us; it’s raining cats and dogs here.

A Mixed Bag

Hello! nice to see you here again. We’re back from our trip to Ireland which I have thoroughly enjoyed. It was incredibly relaxing with Grandma and Grandpa entertaining Little Miss Bossy-Boots most of the day. It gave me some time to do things on my own or with Master. We even managed to have a lovely anniversary lunch (7 years last Sunday) with some friends in Kelly’s Bar in Galway. We ambled through a tiny market in Galway where I bought some Echino and Far Far Away III fat quarters and just generally enjoyed some quiet time.

I also found the time to work on my hexagons in peace and quiet.

“Hexagons? I thought you said you were going to do octagons?” I hear you say. Yes, that was the plan but I changed it at the last minute. The week before Easter my friends Nicola and Vicki came over and we made five heart pillows. It made me realise that we have to somehow find the money to buy lovely fabrics to make them with. So far we have been using fabrics that we’ve had lying around and some stuffing that I bought for the first heart pillow I made. It’s ok for now but I really think that we need some cash to be able to buy materials such as bags to put the pillows in and cards to wish the women the strength to fight. I’ve decided to make a hexagon cushion in pinks and reds which I will donate for a raffle. I might find some more things to give away if I have a good look but I thought this might be a start.

Anyway, Ireland was lovely and we were even lucky with the weather. As an added bonus we were allowed to bring the dog and I very much enjoyed walking him along the river in Birr.

One day we even found a friend for him. Although all dogs are supposed to be on a lead there are quite a few dogs that roam freely. One day on our way down to the river we met a gorgeous white dog who followed us on most of our walk before going back home. It was lovely to watch the dogs running around and playing. They chased each other into the river and all around the field. Pure joy!

Sadly we had to return two days early as Master had to attend an important meeting at work.

Now that I’m back I want to make my partner’s name tag for the Fat Quarterly Sewing Retreat. I’ve had a great idea for it but I’m not sure that I can pull it off. I will have a go and if it doesn’t work out I’ll have to put my thinking cap back on. Pressure is on as I’ve seen a few name tags in the Flickr pool and they are gorgeous. On top of that the shipping date is the beginning of May so I really have to get a move on.

Fat Quarterly Sewing Retreat

London here I come!

Well, not quite yet but soon. I bought a ticket for the Fat Quarterly Sewing Retreat which takes place in June. I’m so excited about it I could do a silly dance but that would just embarrass my family. Although I’ve known for ages that I’m going it sort of hasn’t sunk in properly until now. I’ve entered all sorts of fun swaps and the fabric you see above and below was bought with that in mind.

It’s “Cool Britannia” for Benartex and I love the little London cabs and double decker busses.

The sewing will have to wait till we get back from Ireland, though, as my neck still can’t take the position I’m in when I’m sewing.