Miss Daisy misbehaves (again!)

by Helen on May 12, 2014

Sometimes living with two Newfies can be a little frustrating (although I do of course love them very much).  They are a breed renowned for their bonding with and love for their humans, and certainly my two are are most reluctant to leave my side.  If they anticipate my being in one place for a little while then, with much huffing and puffing they will park themselves in the most inconvenient spot simply so they can be as close to me as possible …..

Which is very lovely of them, but it does mean that getting up to make a cup of tea is a major achievement, necessitating amazing gymnastic feats on my part to clamber over them.  But now Daisy has taken this attachment to new extremes…

Yes, a sight never before seen on the internet (and most unlikely to ever be seen again), me in the bath closely monitored by Miss Daisy who knows very well that she is not supposed to be upstairs.  I forgot to close the bathroom door and this was the result.  I had a nice new magazine on my iPad and had settled down for a lovely soak in my deliciously fragranced Lush bubbles when a black furry face appeared over the side of the bath. So I had to get out, wrap myself in a towel and send the naughty puppy downstairs again where a totally horrified Ben (who is by far the best behaved of the two) had to be reassured that he was a good dog and Daisy’s naughtiness was in no way his fault.  Then by the time I returned my bubbles were vanishing fast and my bath water was growing chilly.  Ah well ….

But unlike my bath which turned out to be a bit of a disaster, my sewing has been going well this week.  I’ve started another – yes another(!) – Esme top from the pattern by Sew Liberated.  I love this pattern – it goes together really well, is easy to wear and suits my body shape.  This time I’ve chosen a lovely splashy roses print…..

Just the cuffs left to add and the bottom hem to turn up.  I am sure that wearing this top will definitely get me in the mood for visiting the wedding florist with Rosie this weekend!  And I used some of the scraps in my next project for the June issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine – my Summertime Picnic Blanket …

Here’s the top nearly finished – just the borders to add.  I used lots of lovely soft pastels to try to achieve an effect reminiscent of handmade paper when combined into simple patchwork, then added Gershwin’s famous song title.  Perfect for balmy summer days ahead!



Woodland Alphabet Quilt wip

by Helen on March 5, 2014

Sometimes it feels so easy ….  I’m sure you know what I mean …. those rare occasions that you have an idea and translating it into fabric and thread just flows, everything happens right the first time.  It’s such a magic, wonderful feeling that for me at least, happens only rarely – usually I can be found muttering, unpicking, tweaking and re-stitching!  But there was no unpicking at all while I was stitching this project – my Woodland Alphabet Quilt …

It’s destined to be a gift for some friends who have been waiting for adoption for some time.  They’ve recently heard that they’ll be bringing home a little boy aged seven months in just a few weeks time.  I do hope they’ll like my gift…

It’s still very much a work in progress, but I finished piecing the top late this afternoon – just some borders around the edges and it’s onto the quilting.  I was inspired by the clean lines and appliqued text of the Baby Life Quilt design by V and Co that I found in the Moda Bakeshop

I love the uncluttered feel of this quilt and wanted to try to give my Woodland Alphabet Quilt the same feeling of simplicity and space – as well as including lots of  forest friends ….


I followed Vanessa Christenson’s tip of zig-zagging around my applique shapes with clear thread.  All my shapes were quite simple so there wasn’t too much huffing and puffing while pivoting around corners.  My favourite block is R for Rabbit (of course!) …. 

Though the hedgehog and mouse are cute too.  I’m considering whether to add a narrow patchwork border around all the squares before the final wider borders – if anybody has any thoughts or suggestions I’d love to hear them.  This project will be included in the April issue of the Bustle & Sew eMagazine and then I’ll be wrapping it up ready to send to my friends in time for their baby boy’s arrival.  


Winter’s Comfort Quilt

by Helen on September 16, 2013

I’ve finished my Winter’s Comfort Quilt!  And, judging by the wind, rain and darkness outside my windows tonight, not a moment too soon! 

Winter's Comfort Quilt

 There are seven snowflakes – completely reworked  from an early 20th century design by Nancy Page and ornamented with tiny mother-of-pearl buttons for just a little frosty sparkle.  There are patchwork blocks …

Winter's Comfort Quilt

  …. a charm pack from Moda – Winter’s Lane” – a lovely soft palette of reds, blues and neutrals quilted in circles that remind me of frosty cobblestones on a winter’s evening, hurrying home from the shops,  perhaps laden with Christmas parcels ….

Winter's comfort wip

 …. and, I don’t know if you can see in the top picture, a row of tiny silver stars stitched into the dark blue sashing – to remind me of the brightness of stars on a frosty night in the depths of winter.  But I won’t mind the cold outside this winter as I’ll be nice and warm snuggled into my new quilt in front of the woodburner!  Oh, and there’ll be two large black furry bodies snoozing gently on the rug at my feet and a mug of cocoa to hand .. bliss!

The pattern for my Winter’s Comfort Quilt will be in the October issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine that’s published next week. 


A hive of industry

by Helen on September 4, 2013

As summer slips slowly into autumn, life here at Coombe Leigh is becoming very busy indeed.  Regular activities, postponed for the summer, begin again and new ones commence.  I have a new assistant here at Bustle & Sew – my friend Lisa’s daughter Emily has asked me to teach her to stitch ……

Teaching Emily to stitch

 … a very serious undertaking indeed!  Or so you might think from how hard she is concentrating on her hoop and needle in this picture.  But actually we’re having a lot of fun – she’s so enthusiastic and full of giggles!  At seven she’s old enough to start with a “real” grown up needle and floss, and here she’s beginning to stitch her first design, having carefully drawn and then traced her own rabbit and flower drawing she’s outlining the rabbit with back stitch.  We then plan to add felt leaves and button flowers to the background to make a picture she can hang on her bedroom wall.  I’ll be sure to show you when it’s done.  

I’ve been busy with my Winter’s Comfort quilt too…. 

Winter's comfort wip

 As I’ve used an old well shrunken woollen blanket for the filling, I can be very flexible with the quilting – there’s no danger at all of the filling breaking up.  The snowflake panels are quite large at 12″ square, but they won’t be quilted at all, I’ve simply stitched in the ditch around them.  I’ve also stitched around the patchwork panels, but have decided to fill them with free motion quilting – choosing circles and a cream thread so they’ll remind me of frosty cobblestones on a winter’s morning.  Still can’t quite decide how to quilt – or indeed if to quilt the navy blue sashing – if anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

And as well as all the sewing going on, I’m busy in the kitchen too with chutneys and preserves ….

Busy in the Kitchen

My lovely next door neighbour Julie invited me to take plums from her tree, and I made some Spicy Plum Chutney that smells delicious – a recipe for the October magazine I think.  Daisy and I have been blackberrying, though we didn’t get very many – I think we are a bit early, perhaps we’ll go again in a week or so.  Meanwhile though, we have enough for a lovely blackberry and apple crumble. And finally – figs from the large and rather thuggish tree at the end of my garden.  I have discovered a recipe for Fig Chutney that will use quite a few – it incorporates balsamic vinegar and red onions so sounds rather nice.  I’ll let you know!