Okay, confession time, my name is Carol not Katy but growing up my Mum and Dad always called me Katy but never actually explained why! My mum passed away recently and subconsciously my memory has been flashing back to things she’d said and done over the years. Some of those memories are that, and even to the end, she still called me Katy and she was always interested in the things I was doing whether it was changes in my job, my voluntary work or my passion for quilting, sewing and reading books. She was always saying, ‘I can hardly keep up with you Katy. You’re always so organised, I don’t know how you keep it all in your head’ I would answer’ ‘Well, it’s all in the planning Mum ……’

Who was I trying to kid?

So where does this fit in with the Bloggerati Retreat I hear you ask? Read on and we’ll get there!

The bloggers usually communicate online so it’s easy to get distracted when you have so many gifted quilters in the room as you want to look and chat to them about what they are making, how long they’ve been quilting, sharing tips on what works best for you … and so on. When you’re grieving, despite all those people around you, it’s also easy to get lost in your own thoughts and those personal memories creep up on you, and that’s just what happened. The memory of mum calling me Katy came out of nowhere, as did the random memory of a book I read as a child when I spent about 4- 5 weeks bed bound recovering from a serious bout of measles and chicken pox straight after one another. The book, What Katy Did, written by Susan Coolidge resonated as it was about a girl who was a tomboy at heart (like me) had an accident and was consigned to bed as an invalid for 4 years; those ‘spotty’ 4-5 weeks certainly felt like years!

 Talking with the bloggers about their sewing and quilting journey triggered the memory of when I started sewing. Mum and Dad bought be a sewing machine for Christmas and I’d been so excited at Father Christmas coming that I’d woken up at 5am, opened all my presents as was sewing away on my machine when Mum appeared at 7am. I think I was probably 8 or 9 years old at the time, so Mum definitely set me on the path for my love of sewing.

I’m at that stage where I still randomly think,’ I must go see Mum today,’ then realise she’s not there. I would have gone to tell her ‘What Katy did at the Bloggerati Retreat, or, ‘What Katy Didn’t Get Done until the week after’ would be a more accurate, but as I can’t do that, I’m dedicating this blog in memory of my Mum and telling you my story.

 It started off well! By Tuesday I’d planned, and almost packed, this is what I was going to take and make:

• A quilt top for my grandson for Christmas

• Finish off a Sampler quilt top using Quilt as You Go (QAYG) method for Our Quilty Pleasures NL charity project

• Sash the Challenge Block quilt top.

• Two small projects to make some quilts for the local NICU as my back up plan if I ran out of things to do!

I’d already taken out at least three different projects, but plans are always there to be changed, aren’t they?

 On Wednesday, a message popped up on my phone asking if I could make some dog beds for a charity that rescues lockdown regrets. I put a message in the bloggers group asking if they would donate their scraps from the retreat so I could use it as stuffing or tops for some beds/comforters.

Thursday – car packed ready to meet Sylvia early Friday morning.

Friday: Sylvia and I arrived just as Jonathan was emptying his car. We helped each other to move our things into the sewing room and set out the tables ready for everyone arriving later.

On Friday the bloggers responded and passed me the scraps they did not want throughout the weekend. Candy also brought me two bags of some scraps from home and Lyn brought a bag of curtain swatches to sift through and take what I needed. By this time my mind was also drifting off to what curtain swatches could be used in fidget quilts.

So, whilst the making of dog beds and fidget quilts were put to one side, my brain started going into overdrive about what I could do with the scraps. You’ve heard the saying ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,’ well, every quilter has differing opinions on what counts as stash and what counts as scraps! Me – even smallest stash scraps can be used and should be saved! Anything to help the environment ~ at least that’s what I tell myself!

I get excited at sorting through the scraps I’ve been given, anything at least ¾ inch and above gets put into the scrap box and the rest goes in the scrap bin.

I started sorting and making up some of the scraps into crumb blocks, but I have a habit of getting carried away with them. As they begin to take shape, I see something that piques my interest and I look through the scraps to find something to complement it. It’s so easy to spend lots of time making them (and I did), sifting through the scraps for the right piece – it can get very technical. I like to call it being creative!

 

Scrap block number 3 looks like a fish or shark head with its mouth open and the eye looking for its prey. I didn’t it plan this, it evolved. I just saw the red eye, it wasn’t until I looked it a week later that I saw it a fish face!

Block number 2 is the sliver of a blue moon casting its light onto the ground below.

Block number 1 has a cheeky mouse running around in the attic, the side chimney was added last then the black border (this wasn’t made at the Retreat).

Okay, time to check my plans! I decided I ought to really get on with what I’d planned to make. I’d taken some sampler blocks to lay out and make up into a quilt top. The plan was to make up the full top, quilted and all over the weekend, but you know what they say about, ‘Best laid plans!’ I laid the quilt top out on Friday night and there it stayed until Sunday. I did take enough wadding to make up the two quilt tops but as I’d forgotten to take a cushion for the chair, it became a cushion instead. Well, you have to be comfortable, don’t you?

After a long evening meal on Friday, we went back to the sewing room about 8.30 pm ish. Next came a Show and Tell group session. I did browse the pop-up shop, well bought some fabric, but that was part of my plan so that was okay. I also went back to sorting through the scraps, because by this time, there was another pile near my sewing machine!

The bloggerati were asked to contribute at least one blue and cream block of their choice. This was to be made up into a quilt top to gift to a charity or a deserving cause. Twenty-three blocks in total were brought and we needed one more to make up two quilt tops.

My last task for Friday was to make up another block as, by luck, I had some blue and creams in my retreat stash. Time to head back to my room, it had been an early start and a long day, so at 10.30pm I called it a night.

Saturday started early for me. At 6.45 am I was at Reception asking to be let into the sewing room – first there but closely followed by a few more early risers! Not worth starting anything significant as it would be breakfast soon, so back to the scrap stash mini blocks.

Saturday’s main task was about cutting out the pieces for the snuggle quilt for my three-year-old grandson. It takes quite a while to cut out the pieces for a full quilt of 64 x 64”, decide on which fabric is going especially when you are using 9 different fabrics. Next came marking the half square triangles.

By this time, I’d hit a brick wall, the lack of sleep over the last three nights, sleeping in a strange bed, and single bed to boot, meant that I tossed and turned thinking I would fall out of bed. The increased caffeine intake had done nothing to help. I headed to my room for a much-needed nap, a very rare occurrence through the day for me. I left the sewing room at 3pm, by 3.08 pm my head hit the pillow and I slept solid until 4.09 pm.

Back at the sewing room, refreshed and less tired I started sewing, cutting and pressing the HSTs for my grandson’s quilt top. A pit-stop along the way for some of us, a cheeky gin before our evening meal, then back at the sewing room. Still feeling tired I managed to cut too close to the seam on one of the HSTs.

With no spare fabric to make another Gruffalo HST, I stopped there and decided I would leave trimming and sewing the blocks until the morning. Nearly the end of the night, 10.30 pm, so back to making crumb blocks with the scraps, chatting with the die-hard bloggers left in the room, a wander round to look at Jonathan’s pop-up shop … again.

My mind started thinking about what to make (and blog) with the freebie pack of fat quarters from The Craft Cotton Co and the freebie Bosal product brought for us. Finally heading to bed around 11.30 pm with ideas still buzzing. 

Sunday came. Time to lay out the blocks for the quilt how it needed to be pieced. Easy enough as the quilt top is made up of 4 blocks each measuring 32” x32”. No picture, I’m afraid, just in case his Mum peeks at the blog to find out what I’m making! But I can tell you that the fabric has an eclectic theme of his favourites, dinosaurs, the Gruffalo, tractors, diggers, boats and other vehicles!

I decided to leave it there and trim and sew the blocks together when I got home. Another browse around Jonathan’s pop-up fabric shop to find (and buy) the exact fabric I needed for another Christmas gift and back to the sewing.

Still a couple of hours before it was time to pack up and go home so I pulled out the two small ‘back-up’ projects to make. I managed to rejig and sash the spool blocks which were left over from another quilt. The green quilt came from another scrap stash I’d been given, originally consisting of 4 blocks of 4 squares and a strip of the same fabrics. All that’s left to do is quilt and bind them and these two baby quilts will be added to the pile for the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A job for back home.

Time to pack up and go home and time to reflect on how the planning and execution of the weekend went for me! What would I have told my Mum?

I would tell her. ‘Well, the planning was great Mum, I had all the fabric, tools and equipment I needed to do everything on the list, well except for a cushion. It was great to meet up with like-minded folk, who understand the love of quilting and all it’s eccentricities like UFOs, never having the right fabric and always needing to buy more! But now I have more work to do. I have to make some dogs beds before I go to see my granddaughter in 4 days’ time and then make something with the free fat quarter pack from The Craft Cotton Co and Bosal and blog about them! So, you might think I’m organised but I’ll leave you to make your mind up on that. You know how I like working to deadlines so it will get done.’

So, in the four days following the Retreat this is what I did.

The Dog Beds:

I sorted out some of the wadding strips and placed them onto some calico, used some 505 basting spray to hold them onto a top and bottom layer of calico. Quilted approx. 4”-6” apart, used QAYG to attach the curtain fabrics and then bagged it out with a backing of cotton curtain fabric or drill cotton. For the puffier dog bed, similar process but the inner padding was made of calico ‘pillow’ 24” x 28”, sewn in channels and stuffed with the very small fabric scraps. Add a top and bottom layer of fabric. Yes, you’ve guessed I have a stash of some great curtain fabrics and old curtain linings that are great for making bags and dogs beds. Thank you to all who gave me their scraps – there is enough left to make more

Beds for four dogs done by Thursday evening, on route to their new home on Friday -here they are.

My final task for the week is to make something from these lovely fabric fat quarters freebie courtesy of …

I used the Into the Woodland FQs to make up into a NICU baby quilt. At our very first Bloggers Retreat 2018, Helen Howes showed us this very simple Improv block called Tigers. Follow the link and it will explain how to make them and there’s some follow up Improv blogs too. Well worth a look.

https://ukqu.co.uk/blog/2018/12/13/improv-for-beginners-and-improvers-part-the-first-and-an-introduction/

Here are my Tigers blocks in the making and the final baby quilt.

Thank you to Craft Cotton Co for the lovely fabric, it was really lovely to work with too.

So, checking back with my original Retreat What Kay Did (or didn’t get done) list this is where it’s at:

• My grandson’s quilt top to finish – but Christmas is a month away so lots of time to make!!!

• QAYG Sampler Block quilt – I’ve started so I’ll finish it this week.

• The Challenge Quilt blocks to sash – parked for the time being – amazingly this is made up of 375 different pieces of fabric … and there could be more to add!

• Oh yes, the Bosal piece to do too. How many sewing hours are there in a day?

Finally, thank you to everyone for making it a great weekend. In my head I’m planning next year’s Retreat!

Happy Sewing Everyone

Carol

Twitter: @quiltsewgo Instagram: quiltsewgo

Twitter: @ukquilters Instagram: uk_quilters_united

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