Thursday, 25 October 2012

Three close shaves

It's that time of the year again when my three furry friends have to go to the vet for an annual check up and a bit of a groom. In my defence, I never wanted persians. I had my heart set on british blue shorthairs. But then these gorgeous bundles of fluff came into my world and I was lost. How could I resist them? Well, I couldn't, so I didn't. First came two, Zorro and Flash, followed a little later by their sister and litter-mate, Lil' Fluff.

Two years on they are big and gorgeous and fluffy. Very fluffy. Persians are a lot of work and with work and study they don't get the grooming they need. The result: fur balls.  Since  I didn't train them to enjoy the grooming process from birth, they are resentful and put up quite a fight if I try to groom them now (not surprising). So, with fur balls growing like topsy amongst their luxuriant coats, a trip to the vet was in order. I told them it was to the hair dresser and to think of it a bit like a spa day - teeth, nails, hair (and a quick vaccination).

Here they are, milling about, looking for breakfast. Still none the wiser.

5 minutes later. Still looking, still none the wiser.  From here, it looks like their coats are gorgeous too. Trust me, appearances can be deceiving!

Uh oh. The penny has started to drop... something is afoot!


Voila! Back home again that night and Lil' Fluff is now Lil' Lion. 

The boys, being super heroes, are both sporting capes. That's Zorro at the back and Flash in the foreground.
I shall leave the last word to Zorro who has decided the difference between him and his litter-mates is that he makes this look good. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Botanika Hexy


(WARNING: image-heavy post follows)

I'm so excited about this quilt that I'm showing it to you before it's even had a good press! (Please forgive).  I fell in love with this fabric (Paula Prass's Botanika for Michael Miller) a while ago and when I got the chance to learn how to machine-piece hexagons at a Stitch class, my local, I decided it was the perfect fabric for me to use.  Even better, best friend, Lisa, was attending the class with me - her first - and she'd chosen a gorgeous array of red/orange/mustard coloured stash fabrics for her project. They looked amazing on the floor when we laid them out and just as fabulous sewn up!

Before we got to class, we needed to cut the shapes out using a perspex template. This was made much easier by the use of a 'lazy-Susan' circular cutting board. Genius! Next, we needed to mark a quarter inch point in from each point of the hexagon. It was just easier to rule a quarter inch line on each of the eight sides, again with the use of the nifty circular cutting board plus a ruler and a pen. (TIP for next time: I found out later that you can get these 'Frixion'-brand pens from the local stationery shop that work just like normal ink pens but, when you iron the fabric, the ink line disappears. The ink reappears if you put it in the freezer.)

The class began on a Sunday morning amid driving rain - perfect for sewing in the warm, friendly Stitch workroom. We chain-pieced the hexagons which had been sorted into rows - my fabrics are not in perfect order but I had already decided I didn't want to randomly place them as I'd fussy-cut the Wingstudy fabric hexys and wanted them to be distributed evenly throughout.





The rows were sewn 2 x 2 on the least 'stretchy' side, to provide stability, before being sewn into a complete row of 10 hexagons.  I found it easier to keep an eye on progress by pinning the finished rows to the wall. Like I said, my order is not perfect, and I completely forgot they would be offset when the rows were sewn together, but it all worked out.


Once I had sewn six rows (this is only a single bed quilt), it was time to offset them and sew two rows together, flipping and starting/stopping between the marked points. One row needs to be higher than the other before you start - you can't just line up two rows and sew along them from one end to the other, oh no, it was Y-seam time! Our fabulous teacher, Penny, emphasised the importance of getting the first two points correct, something many of us in the class found out the hard way when we suddenly found we had 'pouches' in our rows. Still, what's a learning experience without a little reverse quilting (unpicking!) That's one of the things I love about the sewing process, there's nothing that can't be undone/fixed.  


Very quickly the six rows were pieced, and my fear of Y-seams a thing of the past. And check out this cute little block that is formed on the back when you iron. Love it!


I decided to add a couple of narrow boarders around the pieced hexagons, to frame them, before using the lovely large-scale lavender floral in a wide outer border. Hmm....should I quilt now and bind, or could it do with another boarder first? 

Yes, decided another boarder was needed. Et Voila! 

Et ici
(Notice Flash photo bombing yet another pic!)

I'm very pleased with the way it came out. I learned a lot by taking the class, as well as getting a lot done in the six hours, and I'll apply all this to my next hexagon quilt; a queen-sized one already cut out and waiting in the wings - this time using Anna Maria Horner's fabulous Loulouthi pattern. 

(Gratuitous shot of Flash 'assisting' with cutting and marking).