Thursday, September 18, 2014

Quilting Bee Sparta - September meeting

After a long hot summer the Quilting Bee met again. Full of energy and enthousiasm to continue the work on the fuchsia/beige/white log cabin quilt and to think and talk about new projects. This quilt is looking great !! We're at the quilting stage, hand quilting of course! Goal is not only the work, but the team spirit, joy and fun. 

Before we started the quilting we admired the projects some of us made during the summer, like Jota's cushion, Maria's top for a baby quilt and a handbag she made at an Athens workshop. I should have taken pictures of these, but it didn't cross my mind at that moment. Sometimes my brain works a bit slow!!! Maybe the age??? Next time I won't forget. 

To be able to work I have to change some furniture around. The coffee tables go to the bedroom. The garden table, which you see above hasn't seen the garden for two years! It is stored in the spare bedroom and comes to the living room when needed.  My house has a basement, so I can't be bothered to carry the table every time up and down Besides, I have small bistro tables in the garden.
In the morning two ladies did the quilting and three in the afternoon. They were pushing and pulling a bit, but they did great team work! 

Before the summer we finished two more quilts. This one was a pain in the.....
We are all very inexperienced and decided to make triangles, not realizing the difficulty of corners matching! The patterned fabric was from an extreme good quality, used but still beautiful. The other fabric, new,  wasn't exactly good quality and gave us a lot of trouble. But we managed and are very happy with the end result.

We made a few more  blocks than needed and decided to use these to make a cushion. So, one of the girls started to quilt this piece. 
We use thick batting and do the quilting with coloured thread, in the ditch and with big stiches. 

The back is a piece of a duvet cover, lovely flowers which go well with the busy front pattern.
The design wall I made last week was very useful to pin the block for the next project and play with strips of fabric to decide how to make more and different blocks for the log cabin quilt we want to make next. But, this is a story for a next blog.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Garden Stories

September, the month of changing the vegetable garden from summer to winter. Last week we had a few thunderstorms with a lot of heavy rain. Great for my thursty garden!  And for me too! I got a bit tired and sometimes, when temperatures went over 40 degrees, exhausted of the hot weather. 
All this rain was a great opportunity to pull the weeds out. They reached up to 1 meter height in the empty part of the veggie garden!! I should have made a picture to show you the before and after, but as I hate the before, I can't get myself to picture all those weeds.
So, I started last Friday morning, first in the shade, but as the morning went on I worked more and more in the sun. Now I am a natural redhead, that is to say, I was a natural redhead !!! But my skin is still very white and sensitive. I am/work every day in the garden without any problem. With the weed-pulling I was wearing trousers and a T-shirt, bending over and pulling. Can you feel it coming?? Maybe I should have worn a longer T-shirt!! In the evening, in front of the computer, I couldn't understand why my lower back was uncomfortable whenever I leaned back against the chair. I blamed it on the chair!!
After my morning shower I decided to look in the mirror to see why my back was still so sensitive. Well.....I have a really sunburned strip about 5 cm wide just there were the trousers end. 

So today I wore a dress to continue the change-over of the garden. The whole morning I was digging. As you can see I have very nice garden tools. I am especially pleased with the soft leather gloves my brother-in-law brought me 
from the States. I can't get them here. They have soft leather gloves but only for men, one size. you can't work in the garden when your gloves are too big.

Before I started the digging I was checking the squash, ocra, peppers and eggplant. And....see what a I found. An enormous grasshopper! Unfortunately I have them in all sizes. They usually just don't sit quiet to have their picture taken. I don't like them in the garden. Flopsy, my cat really wants to help me to get rid of them. That's why he catches them and brings them to me in the basement, while I am there. Alive!!! They jump, and then I jump! 
Yesterday he brought me a little mouse. Thank God, not alive! He is such a nice cat, he just wants to please me !!!

Surprise! Another present left in my garden. One of my neighbours has chickens. Somehow they managed to escape their garden and payed a visit to mine. It seemed that they loved the strawberries, because they were all there, 5 of them. I had to chase them, first to the next garden and then to their own. Four of them went back. The fith one I chased for some time through two gardens and as it was getting dark, I gave up. Next morning she was gone, back to her home, I guess. A week later, again when pulling weeds, I found this. Two chicken eggs. Present for the garden visit!

Having a vegetable garden means that you have to work, but it gives also pleasure and of course nice organic veggies to eat (if all is well!)
A few days ago I harvested leeks. It isn't the time for leeks here in Sparta. I had some seeds and just put them in the soil to see what would happen. And they came up. They didn't like the extreme heat, but I managed to get some edible pieces. I had to throw a lot away, and still have a supply in the freezer for our winter soups. 
Garden stories will continue as I plan to get my whole garden in a "proper" state.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Garden quilt blocks

On Pinterest I saw a beautiful garden quilt and that gave me the idea to make one for my couch. More a throw that a full size quilt. I started by browsing my 501 Quilt Blocks pattern book and found some patchwork and applique blocks that I liked for this purpose. 

I am not very good in following rules, that's why I often change patterns. Above I just added a stem to get a more grounded flower!

The embroidery in this block comes from an old tablecloth. I love it that I can use this kind of pieces again, because we all know how much work it is to make something like this. And ... women put a lot of love in their creations, so it shouldn't go to waste.

To stay with the applique, I made two Dresden plates with different fabrics and colours.

The bird I made is still waiting for his picture to be taken, as is the owl panel.
It is fun to make your own quilt pattern, but now I need a design wall !!!
A suitable place is above the bed in the guest room. I have already two pieces of insulation board, which I used to put over the bed to put the quilt layers together. Now, they have to go on the wall. A real DIY project which need some thought !!

Besides the applique, I made two patchwork blocks. Difficult, because the pieces are tiny and I am not yet that experienced. I really love the butterfly. The cottage house didn't come out the way I wanted, but I think it looks ok. 
Anyway, I have to make some more houses because the Greek on-line quilters group "Και στην Ελλάδα αγαπάμε το πατσουωρκ" will start a QAL with house blocks. 

Time to start fixing the design wall!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Patchwork clothes and tablet covers

Now, what connection is there between tablet covers and patchwork clothes??

For most people there is none, only for me there is !! This summer I am wearing the patchwork dress I made last year a lot. The tablet covers, which aren't patchwork, were made while I was wearing my dress. (This patchwork is becoming an obsession!!!!!) 

It was a try-out and I am rather pleased with it. I used a sleeveless blouse I have as a pattern for the top and lined that part. Then I sew slightly ruffled strips underneath and .....voila!!

The long, hot summer over here inspires me to use bright colourful fabrics for whatever I make. 

I am planning on making more of my own clothes again. I used to do that years ago, but got so fed up with it at a certain moment that I stopped. Maybe I have to start again, nice linen dresses and tops. I copied a lot of them on my Pinterest 'summer clothes' board. So much inspiration!!! 
As a didn't have any linen, but wanted to make a long blouse, I just used some scraps again!

I must say that I get a bit impatient sometimes. Couldn't wait to go shopping for  some nice linen and couldn't wait for someone to take a picture !

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Garden and cats

Due to the recent heat wave we had, with temperatures over 40 degrees Celcius, my poor garden is suffering! Leaves turn brown, although I water every day, and buds dry on the plants before they get the chance to open, especially the ones from the pink Mignon-dahlia.

I am not going to show you the dried-up buds, but this was the plant three weeks ago. 
Some plants aren't bothered at all by the heat, like the Solanum, who hardly has any soil, but became enormous. Started off in a plastic pot. I laid some bricks around it in a corner of the house and just watered. The roots must have gone through the pot, and use the dust that gathers in this corner as soil too!!!

Opposite of above Solanum blooms the Campsis radicans. This is a very abundant shrub/climer. The orange flowers are beautiful, but.... be careful, it attracts a lot of wasps and ants. I have been stung already twice! But then I rub the spot with some broken ivy leaves and the pain subdues quickly. Lovely to have a garden and be able to use the plants, to eat, to use as medicine and just smell and enjoy the shapes and colours. 

Of course not only the wasps, beetles, snails, grasshoppers,  and mosquitoes like my garden, but also the garden cats. These are the cats that my neighbour and I feed, but they aren't coming in the house, like these two enjoying an afternoon nap.

The one who owns the house is Flopsy, a neutered male. He is a bit frightened of the female garden cats, because they can become vicious when they have kittens! So he prefers to find hiding places in the garden. As he is "well-nourished" he is not so quick any more! But he is very sweet.

We just had a nice thunderstorm. Love it at the end of August, after all this heat! The garden feel great too, it needed desperate a downpour. And the jasmine smells wonderful after the rain.

As the heavens provided the water, I had an hour free to write!! Now it's time to feed the hungry!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beach and Caretta-caretta

It is going to be hot again today and the next few days, 36 degrees Celcius with no wind, so a  bit suffocating. Thank God for technology! We can put on the airco upstairs and in the basement, where I kind of live, (with my sewing machine, fabrics magazines, books etc.etc.) it is cool, especially with the fan on. Excellent weather for the beach! 

Reading at Petalea Beach, in Mavrovouni, near Gytheion. The sticks in front mark turtle eggs. The big Caretta Caretta leaves its eggs all over this beach, as on many other beaches in Greece. The little ones come out at full moon and wobble to the sea. There are lots of volunteer turtle watchers. First to put protection around the eggs and, when the babies have to find their way to the water, there shouldn't be other light sources to distract them. The volunteers look into that too. 

Of course I am going to the beach with one of my patchwork beach bags.

I am planning to go more often to the beach this year. Last year I didn't go at all! And it is so relaxing! The second time I went I took this bag with me, together with the Boutari pareo. I love this one, because it has a real Greek island scene and because blue is my sea colour!

My daughter Alexandra choose the bag I just finished last week. She loves the colour and the pattern.

Two post ago I showed you the cushion one of my students was working on. Well, she finished it and this is the result. Good work Eleni!

Time for me to get back to work. Have a few I-phone covers to make and started a garden quilt. That will keep me busy for quite a while!

Monday, August 4, 2014

tablet covers in all sizes and colours

When I got the idea to make tablet covers, I imagined that there would be different sizes, but that there are so many ....nothing a bit standarized! So I made some samples in different sizes.
They all have a pocket to put the earphones and I also made a little pouch for the battery, that you can hang on the button. The covers are padded and very soft.

Nice little presents for my friends, who, one after the other, are buying a tablet.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

country life

The end of June! So many days, so many hours! Where did they go???
I must say that my daughter, who lives in the States, came over for a week. Then time passes really quick! 
So, what did I do with the remaining time? I started to teach two women patchwork and quilting. They are going to make a cushion and are doing very well.

The pieces are cut from quilt fabric, vintage greek fabric, a second hand dirndle dress and an old second hand house dress. 
The result looks lovely.
It is a challenge to sew pieces cut from different quality cottons, because some pieces have more stretch than others. 

I made this red cushion as an example. The other one with the little Asian girls is made earlier. They go very well together and give a feeling of summer in the countryside. 

In the background the Jasmine is smelling exquisite! It is a very old one. My father-in-law planted it when he had the house built in 1953! One winter we had 6 continuous days of frost, till -6 degrees. That year a lot of plants died in Sparta. I was very upset because the Jasmine also looked destroyed. But.... next year it started to get new branches and now it is in full bloom again! 

Next time I will show the tablet covers I made. I'll try to post them in very due time, because I have plans to do a lot of sewing, so I will have a lot to show!!!!
Time to start working!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ready for the beach

The weather is unstable at the moment. The sun is hot, but a very strong northern wind is blowing! That makes it hot and cold !!!
Yesterday evening I went to a choir event at the ancient city of Mystras. Three choirs were singing and were nearly blown off the hill! Boys were holding the speakers to prevent them from falling over. It was really cold and that on the last day of May! Unusual. A pity because the choirs were really a pleasure to listen to. 

I hope that the the wind will subdue and that summer really starts, because it is time to go to the beach, Of course we need a big beach bag, that will hold all our stuff.

I decorated the bag with a handmade doily that I found at Monastiraki, de Athens flea market and a tiny little pocket.
The bag has a zipper, so no fear of watches, glasses, suntan falling in the sand and getting all sticky! The bag has 4 inside pockets.

We are taking our favorite magazine with us to read on the beach and get inspired! Lots of ideas for new projects.

I made quite some tablet covers but will show them in my next blog. Some simple tote bags are also in the planning. Who knows I have time to start them today?? The garden also needs a lot of work, though. Questin is....what to do first?? Maybe I should have another cup of coffee and think about that!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Summer bags

Spring is such a lovely time, especially in Greece, not too hot yet, beautiful wild flowers everywhere. My vegetable garden is ready, hurray! No veggies yet but it looks great. Have to carry on with the normal garden, still quiet some work to be done. 

It's time to get our summer clothes ready, put on our sandals and enjoy spring and summer. Time for summer bags !!!

These ones I made just now.

I made this one of a tea towel I bought in the second hand shop. The outer pocket comes from an old shirt from my husband.

Both bags have a key chain

Time to get going again. Working on a bag with embroidered doily. And .... the garden needs work again... and again....and again!!!