Monday, 28 January 2019

Broken China

I started this project in August 2017, when I made just one pink flower rosette. At that time, I had vague plans to turn it into something, but only in the way that I also have vague plans to build my own house one day; really I was happy to keep it on my shelf of small things, which contains the gift of two plastic golden retrievers from my husband; a Lego sewing machine; several printer's block letters; a tiny wooden pig I've had since I was four; a die-cast model of a Mini; a shrivelled conker with a face drawn on it that my son gave me several years ago; and a few postcards - it is the very best of shelves (how could it not be with two plastic golden retrievers on it!?).

Anyway, last year when my sewing room was being photographed for a magazine, I decided I should actually have something, anything, on my design wall and the flower rosette got taken off the very best of shelves and put on the very worst of design walls, where two skylight windows directly opposite aggressively bleach the colours from anything that's placed on it (there was a reason it had been empty before the photoshoot). But afterwards, I so enjoyed having all my works-in-progress pinned up on the wall, that I decided to take a risk and leave them there - it was October and heading towards a dark English winter and I thought the damage was likely to be minimal.

This was the result - the rosette at the bottom of this photo is the one that I made in 2017...the top three are the ones I made in 2019. Sadly, the difference in colour meant that 'Rosette Mark I' has had to be returned to the very best of shelves and couldn't be incorporated into this piece. This doesn't really explain how I have gone from having only vague plans for this, to re-sewing it and then making many more until I had an actual 'thing'. I'm not sure I actually have an explanation for it, so I'm looking forward to a built-by-me house also magically appearing some time soon too.

All I can say is that I have enjoyed making all the little components for this piece immensely! It's a project that's seemed to have a wonderful rhythm to it and hasn't been in danger of stalling at any point once it go going again, even if at times I have become distracted by photographing the various components hanging on teacups...

...and resting on my palm. For me, a project is only really worthy of the label Extreme Fun, if it has been as much fun to photograph as it has to sew. This one was.

I wrote in my book about particular fabrics having a habit of reappearing over the lifetime of a stitcher's work, and the ones here are favourites that often seem to creep into mine. There is something about these china blues, alongside my very favourite shade of pink, that I can't get enough of. A few people on Instagram commented on it looking like pieces of broken china and that's what it reminded me off too - both in colour and in how fractured the pattern looks, hence the name.

Moving onto the vital statistics: in total, the finished piece measures just less than 8.5" square and contains 408 pieces. The pieces don't feel anything like as small as those in my Miniature Ripple Effect (which crams 200 pieces into a circle measuring 5.5"), but a few were still challenging - most especially those pesky little plain blue triangles. The pattern for the main pink rosettes is from my Eight Dials English paper piecing pattern, but I designed a different block to link them all together, so the end result looks very different.

I have really small hands (and badly-maintained nails, I now see), but this maybe gives a vague sense of scale. Random question: are the joints on the hand that you sew and write with far bigger than those on your other hand? I haven't worn rings for years*, but on the rare occasions when I try them on, I've realised I can no longer get them over the finger joints on my right hand, although they still fit loosely on my left. It's odd to think that all those little stitches may be like body-building for fingers! If you're wearing one, do let me know (although please forgive me if this results in you having the ring sawn from your finger in Casualty).

As if the first wasn't enough (the fun just keeps on rolling), I have a second random question I've been pondering and would like to consult with you on. I like to leave the papers in place when my English paper piecing will be framed (rather than used as a quilt) - it gives the finished piece stability and avoids the shadow and indent of seam allowances being visible through the fine fabric. I use medium-weight card for my pieces when they're this small, but even with that extra density, the card sometimes wrinkles and start to show wear under the heat of an iron (having already been stressed by gently folding it while sewing the pieces together), which is frustrating when my piecing itself has been painstakingly done, but the end result is impacted by the paper within failing and causing an uneven finish.

For this project, I've focused on flattening it beneath a big hardback book more often than pressing it with an iron, but it feels a real compromise - I LOVE pressing things with an iron! I thought of making the paper pieces from thin, heat-proof plastic (templar), but I know the points would end up damaging the fabric once it was wrapped around it - lawn is fine and plastic is just that bit more spiky than card and it would be a disaster. And sanding the plastic first isn't an option at this scale - the smallest amount of sanding would alter the shape. So, my question is: do you have any other ideas of things I could use to wrap my papers around? I need to be able to iron it, bend it, wrap it, and preferably print on it too. I don't think there's a viable alternative, but I'm so often surprised by the ingenious suggestions I receive when I ask a question here or Instagram, that I thought I'd ask anyway.

I feel set up for the week after watching nearly five hours of TEDx talks with my parents on Saturday - I'd thought I'd struggle with so many hours sat with still hands, but it was the most incredible event, full of stories and ideas. We laughed, were inspired, and even cried a little too - admittedly, we're an easy-to-cry family, but I can't imagine many people in the 1000-seater theatre hall who didn't sit in the dark with tears silently streaming down their face as they listened to Sophie Sabbage, who lives with terminal cancer, talk about the way we handle grief and loss - not just in relation to death, but also lost friendships, lost hopes etc - it was one of the most moving and impactful talks I've heard - I'll share a link when it comes online, but in the meantime, if you're interested, Sophie's book, Life Shocks, looks excellent.

The rest of the weekend was spent with my son listening to episodes of The Moth, the podcast of The Moth's live storytelling events, while I sewed and he did his GCSE Art coursework, and playing board games with my husband and a friend. My weekend activities feel serendipitously appropriate given that National Storytelling Week began on Saturday (TED and The Moth, not the board games), although I didn't realise until this morning.

I hope you're having a wonderful start to the week. It is crisp and chilly here, and I have all my fingers crossed for snow (the type that is a foot thick, stays for weeks, and then disappears overnight without any slush or ice, at exactly the moment when everyone has had enough of it - some would say, the very best of snow).

Florence x

* There are so many times when the other thoughts around the thought I'm writing about, end up being too cumbersome to fit neatly in brackets and so have to either be lost or moved to the end of a post. But the * is to say that, mostly, I like my hands to feel entirely utilitarian, and don't even enjoy wearing nail polish. This feels quite odd when I'm a ridiculously sentimental creature - so should enjoy wearing rings - and also love all other forms of make-up, so should enjoy wearing polish...but both just feel irritating when I'm trying to bake/sew/type/clean etc. Any ring/polish preferences of your own? That makes this a post of three questions! Feel free to answer any of them, or just make up your own if you want to chat about something entirely different in the comments. x

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

5am Life Wave

Today I'm belatedly sharing a project I started in December 2017 and finished in October 2018. On Instagram, I've referred to it as Rainbow Soup, while the Illustrator file where I originally planned it out was named '5am' (an obvious choice when you open a new document with no idea what you're going to do in there, but it is indeed 5 o'clock in the morning), and in my head its working title was Life Wave.

In early June 2017, my grandmother, who had made relatively regular appearances on my blog since I began writing it, passed away. I've gone to post about it several times in the last 18 months, but somehow found myself unable to, although it's been an odd feeling to leave her death unacknowledged here.

Over the last decade, my husband and I have lost friends and family far too early, so when my grandmother died peacefully in her late 80s, I initially felt comforted to finally be experiencing a natural, age-appropriate death - it offered a feeling of, Ah, so this is how it's supposed to be - sad, full of memories, but not unjust. I had thought that would make it 'the easy one'.

But despite what I'd initially imagined, my grandmother's death didn't end up being 'the easy one' and it took me the rest of 2017 and a good portion of early 2018, not to find my eyes streaming at the thought of her or the mention of her name - it wasn't that I wanted for her to have lived for longer, just that I had a huge ball of weepy sadness inside me over her no longer being here.

So, when I came to designing this piece,  my grandmother was at the forefront of my thoughts and, initially, the great big undulating wave of colour that runs diagonally through the centre of the piece represented her, in all her wonderful vibrancy, the world receding around her. But at some point while I was sewing it together, I gradually began to view the piece differently, and eventually that central swoop of colour began to represent a wider life force - humanity, all of us - and reluctantly, the smaller bits of warmth falling away from it - those three lone orange pieces in the bottom right quarter - came to represent my grandmother (and all the other good ones), like the light left radiating from a star that's already died.

Above is the design I created it in my graphics programme and below is the finished piece.

I much prefer for the creative part to take place on my laptop, and for the making part to be more about following a map - in this case, each individual colour was carefully matched up to my plan - it's fun (for me at least!) to try and spot the pieces where I went off track and, accidentally or intentionally, used a different colour. 

As larger pieces are so expensive to frame, for now it lives in a ready-made one found in the garage that doesn't match its dimensions perfectly (it's too big by one frustrating centimetre...although I'm not about to sew an extra row on to make it work), and it hangs in this room at the back of the house where the light never quite makes it sparkle as it did when it was in my sewing room at the front of the house, so it's a rather temporary resting place, but despite that it feels like a happy, joyful thing.

My grandmother didn't have an easy life, but she was one of the most vivacious and radiant people I've known. She had the ability to make the mundane feel magical, whether that was something as simple as choosing the shiniest fruit in a greengrocers, or racing us to collect a hundred weeds from the garden each evening in our nightdresses, waking us at midnight for feasts (where she would open out the bathroom and airing cupboard doors to create a secret compartment on the landing for us to hide away in), searching gravestones for the loveliest names, telling us stories from her imagination*, floating around her local lake in a rowing boat for hours, where she would regale us with tales of lost loves or the great many ghosts who'd haunted her houses (if she misplaced something, she found it more comforting to blame a ghost than herself and had many furious meetings with them as a result), helping us to create miniature worlds from things she'd saved up in the weeks before our visits, or mainly, just talking in her beautiful voice, which seemed to curl around words as though she was hugging each one of them - she had worked a telephonist connecting calls, which always seemed a perfect job for her.

She created a bubble around the three of us (her, my sister and me; the members of The Magic Circle, who could communicate telepathically by placing a tiny rose button against a circle of card), and when we were together, I always felt anything was possible and and as though the whole world was full of magic; if a little streak of madness lived within her, in grand-mothering she triumphed in using it for good.

(I want to draw your attention to the rosemary plant covered in little flowers from the 5am Life Wave while it was a work-in-progress - she would have loved this photo and it was created in her honour).

Here are a few links to posts where I talked about my grandmother while she was still alive - in this post, I discussed an interview I'd taken part in for a friend's dissertation on special places - I chose my grandmother's house and talked about my childhood memories; a few Christmases ago, I wrote a post where I mention knitting together and how she made me feel whenever she was teaching me; here, I write about her wonderful baking and how she used to greet us when we arrived at her house as children; at the end of this post, I share her (and my own) frank opinions on my neglecting to buy school photographs of my children; in this post about the EU referendum, she plays just a bit part, but her comment made me so proud as she bucked the trend of how many in their late 80s were reported to have voted; in this post my grandmother makes a pertinent assessment on the contents of my brain (it also happens to be one of my favourite posts, although most of it doesn't relate to her); this post shares a photo of my diminutive grandmother (she was well under 5ft) nestled amongst a densely-planted bed of cornflowers; this post shares a story from my childhood where she taught me that small things are just as good as big ones - it is one of my favourite memories of her and it still delights me that rather than simply reassuring me that my tiny gift was just as lovely as the bigger parcel my sister had given her, she stopped to use an illustration I could truly understand, asking if she was not as special as my other, much taller, grandma. She kept the little creatures that were wrapped inside the package I'd given her for the next thirty-five years, and now they live on my dressing table where I see them each morning - it should be an odd thing to have your own gift back, but somehow they feel more like her gift to me.

And finally, at the end of this post, I talked about her move to a care home, nearer to the area where my mum and I live - I was sewing name tapes into her clothing and feeling nervous anticipation for her as she set about putting down new roots ( totally unnecessarily; she had a wonderful way of magnetising people to her, even when addled by dementia).

Although we held vigil all week, none of us were with her when she died just after midnight, but my mum and I arrived separately shortly afterwards. One of her carers, who knew her well, put bright pink flowers in her hair. We asked if that was a tradition in Hungary, where she was from, and she laughed and said 'No, I did it because I knew Jeannie would have liked it', and she would have done. After the undertakers had gone, my mum and I lay on her bed not wanting to leave her room and chatted until 5am, watching the light change and hearing the very first bird make a sound to begin the dawn chorus. We held hands and laughed, cried and celebrated what a wonderful life she'd led and how few regrets we had for her - she'd had a marvellous ability to make lemonade from lemons and had been loved for it.

Later, as we drove home in convoy along empty roads, a bird swooped directly in front of my windscreen, loop-the looped, then dived playfully back at the glass once more before flying off - it was so curious that my immediate thought was that it was my grandmother playing with me and when we reached the place where we'd agreed to meet for an early morning walk, my mother asked if I'd noticed the bird in front of my car and said she'd felt sure it was Nannie - I was so pleased she'd witnessed its peculiar movements too. So many friends who've lost loved ones have had odd experiences with birds just before or after makes me wonder if our spirits briefly inhabit them.

I was sad to learn that the poet, Mary Oliver, died last week. It's impossible for me to pick a favourite poem or line - there are too many that I love (a bit like Liberty prints), but a line taken from The Summer Day that always resonates with me for its feeling of immense possibility, is this one: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Thinking of this in relation to my grandmother, I know she will have felt she spent it well.

Florence x

** It was too much to add in brackets in the middle of that paragraph, but those stories she made up usually involved a boy and a girl entering another world through a tree trunk, where they would come across miniature woodland people, sparkly lights, and a banquet of party food. At the end of the adventure they would have to return to the real world, but would usually take some kind of treasure with them...somehow my brain never linked up the dots as a child to notice that the boy and girl who starred in those stories actually shared our parents names! My grandmother had a lightning quick wit - unaffected by dementia - and would have been amused to find I only discovered the link after she'd died when I was talking about it with my sister. As a random aside to that, while I didn't inherit her nimble mind (or, seemingly, even a mid-paced one), what I've realised while writing this post, is that she did impress upon me a love of all things miniature and that I've never really known where that's come from until now.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Templates and Precut Papers for EPP (and, as always, some random thoughts)

Just a quick post to let you know that there are now acrylic templates and precut paper pieces available from Paper Pieces for all the patterns in my book! Although I've always seen scissor-cutting paper pieces and creating my own templates as part of the process, I know for many this is a deal breaker with English paper piecing, so I'm really happy that these are out there. And actually, now I've experienced the ease of having them ready-made, I can see myself becoming a convert too.

I found the process of these pieces being created really interesting and when the samples arrived for approval, as someone new to using templates, I suddenly had lots of questions. I thought I might share a few of them with you here, just because I found it really interesting to discover the answers, and also because it may help you when it comes to using the templates if you're new to them too.

Q1. Does there have to be a brown backing on the templates? I'd find them easier to use if they were clear. This question ended up being a marginally embarrassing one to have asked, as the backings are actually really easily removable to leave beautiful clear templates like the ones at the top of this post - they're just there to protect the templates during transportation (this is similar to the time I was left not feeling overly enamoured by our new bath's lack of shininess, only to discover it had a fine plastic protective coating on it). If you don't fussy-cut fabrics and like a delicious surprise with each cut, you can leave the backing on as they probably give the templates a little more grip, but otherwise, just peel them off (yet to be peeled off in the photo below. Fully peeled in the top photo).

Q2. Why are the ends of some of the acrylic templates squared off, as with the kite shape above? Apparently some templates that go to a point can be really sharp, so PaperPieces cut them off to stop them from poking at people and also to stop them from sneakily cutting free of their packaging! As the squared off bit is so small, it doesn't interfere with using them as you would if they were still there when it comes to rotary cutting around them :)

Q3. Why do the paper pieces have to be on brown paper?  Several years ago, I'd looked into getting paper pieces cut, but I found when the company who cut those pieces for me sent some samples over, the laser had left unsightly burn marks on them and they looked really grubby as a consequence. It turns out Paper Pieces use brown paper for that very reason - although the laser burns are still there, they don't look or feel grubby on brown paper. Such a brilliant solution. (Nb. more standard shapes are die-cut, avoiding burn marks entirely, which is why you'll sometimes see shapes on clean white paper).

Interesting other points of note: 
  • Having never looked into templates properly before, I was amazed to find that you can choose whether to buy acrylic templates with a 1/4" or 3/8" seam allowance on the PaperPieces website. As someone who glue bastes (for English paper piecing, you temporarily wrap the papers with fabric and this requires some way of securing them - this is called 'basting'), I've always preferred a trim 1/4" seam allowance, but on the rare occasions when I've thread-basted, I've found I preferred a more generous seam allowance. 
  • You can also buy the acrylic templates with a viewing window (again with a 1/4" or 3/8" seam allowance); no viewing window (as pictured above); or with no seam allowance at all - useful if you want to hand piece with a running stitch, rather than EPP. 
  • For the three small rosettes from my book, you can buy papers for each block in packs of 1, 6 or 12. Buying in larger packs will allow you to sew lots of blocks together to make an entire quilt. In my book, two of the blocks are the same size and one is a little larger, but here, the three blocks have been made the same size, so that you can sew any combination of them together. 
  • PaperPieces don't breach designer's copyright by providing piecing instructions or diagrams, so you'll need the book to go alongside the paper pieces. 

When my samples arrived a few months ago, seeing the templates unexpectedly etched with Flossie Teacakes was quite a lovely moment. Similar to getting Moo cards delivered, it just feels nice to have your name printed neatly on anything that's one-step removed from yourself, as though you exist in another form, neatly packaged, more professional, and almost certainly more well-coordinated in an aerobics class than the creature that exists in reality (for the record, I no longer attend aerobics classes as it presented a hazard to the other participants to have someone who constantly interrupted the flow of movement from left to right and introduced an unfortunate 'human pinball' element to the workout). If you've never had your own Moo cards printed by the way, I'd advise you to do so, even if you only ever keep them in your own desk drawer and take them out to look at them from time to time - they're the best stationery you'll ever own and that little box full of cards seems to represent so much potential. Whether that potential ever becomes a reality isn't necessarily the important part - it's the possibility that matters. I last got some mini cards printed in 2012 when I ran my little shop site, Made by Florence, and I think I may have just have unexpectedly talked myself into getting another set made (blog posts are always meandering things...who knows where they'll end up).

Doubly exciting for me with my templates was that this was my very first non-paper item I've ever had my name on - it actually says Flossie Teacakes on them, rather than Florence, but it represents the same thing to my mind. If you grew up with a less obscure name than mine, you may have been lucky to regularly find your name on items in gift shops, but I was disappointed at every stand of key-rings, bookmarks and door signs I ever came across. We spent a lot of time adventuring with family friends when I was young, and I was always left feeling wobbly-lipped and covetous whenever the other children emerged from a shop or museum with a named item. If only I'd known that, aged 41, I'd finally get my name printed on a useful product related to my favourite-most EPP, I may have borne it with more grace. As it was, aged 6, I scowled and muttered dark thoughts to the small pig I kept in my bag. I modelled myself on Lotta at that point, so every pig I owned (and as a passionate vegetarian, I kept several) was named Bamsy, just like hers. The Lotta books were the less-well-known series of books written by Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking, and I still adore them now in a way that I never really have with Pippi. Pippi was a different kind of character altogether and I found her slightly baffling, while Lotta's angry-at-the-world, youngest-in-the-family wilfulness was entirely relatable. I often wonder how much influence books have in forming a child's character at that age and if I identified with Lotta and Josie (from The Bossing of Josie by Ronda and David Armitage) because I saw myself reflected in them or, more worryingly, if I grew more like them because I admired them and their bold ways! Later, it was Flossie Teacakes who made an impression on me (that probably goes without saying), followed by Anne of Green Gables, who ultimately proved to be a more levelling influence. Were there any book characters who had a particular impact on you when you were growing up? Or even as an adult?

Florence x

Ps. I've often wondered how I used to write blog posts so often. Now I know: they were shorter. Sorry to anyone who'd braced themselves for reading this with a fresh cup of tea and then found themselves left with a half-full cup.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Adventures in tiny English paper piecing

I'd mentioned in my last post that 2018 was a year for letting finished projects go undocumented and you can probably see from the unseasonal flowers that these photos haven't been taken today. This project was the tiniest piece of English paper piecing I'd ever undertaken - there are exactly 200 pieces squashed into this medallion that has a diameter of 5.5" (just under 14cm).

The pattern for the medallion is based on The Ripple Effect quilt in my book, scaled down by 70%, with a few modifications to allow for the tiny pieces. Unusually for me, I took a lot of photos while I was piecing it together, possibly because it's much easier to photograph things when you only need a tiny portion of your desk to be tidy!


This was where I started. You can see that the tiny pink diamonds in the photo above were little bigger than the centre of one of the bobbins that sit next to them. They presented various problems...mainly that my usually diminutive glue pen suddenly felt large and unwieldy, but I found that if I could wrap something, then I could definitely sew it. Someone on Instagram later suggested cutting a little moon from one side of the glue, which is a super idea for reducing its girth.

miniature english paper piecing

These triangles are a bit bigger than the tiny diamonds, but you can still get a flavour of the glue pen issue - I wish someone would invent a miniature one.  

miniature english paper piecing1

I used a 1/8" seam allowance throughout, but even that seems quite bulky around these pieces. 

miniature english paper piecing4

For cutting the fabrics, I used an 18mm rotary cutter (the standard ones are 45mm), which makes a huge difference to how easy it is to cut tiny pieces. 

miniature english paper piecing5

Working at such a small scale meant that the production line felt fairly manageable in size - one can sit on a chair with everything nicely in arm's reach, which lends itself worryingly well to watching a boxset. I remember watching Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace while I wrapped the pieces and was totally mesmerised by the unexpected shots of beautiful quilts that cropped up throughout. Although disturbing, it's not nearly as unsettling as The Handmaid's Tale and I'd heartily recommend it (my 17 year old also watched and loved it - I think at the time finishing her GCSE art and textiles coursework, which now seems a long time ago as she's now started her A Levels). 

miniature english paper piecing6

miniature english paper piecing9

I like having everything in one easy-to-haul pot. This was the one I used for this project (although I now have another one that's even better - to be shared at a later date). 

miniature english paper pieicng 11

For the piecing, I used Superior Threads' Bottom Line thread in tiny bobbins colour-coordinated to my project - it's fine and strong. The wrong colour thread seems to show up more at this scale because each stitch is a larger part of the whole, so I found it's worth taking the time to blend them a little more carefully. 

With miniature piecing I've found an appropriate home for my usually irritatingly-dense number of stitches - here, it was actually welcome and worked well. Really dense stitches don't work so well on larger pieces because it takes forever to sew and because it causes an unnecessary nightmare if you need to unpick anything, but for tiny piecing, a greater number of stitches ensures your pieces aren't held together by just one or two stitches, which is a bonus (although no less traumatic to unpick). 

miniature english paper piecing rosette

The photo above and the one at the top of the post show the finished medallion. I thought you might also like to see the back - it's so thick with seam allonwance that it feels a bit like a little mat, but somehow very little of the bulk transfers to the face of the medallion - the main place is where those eight seams join right at the centre. 

reverse of miniature english paper piecing

I'd originally planned for the finished piece to go on this peachy coloured backing, but once I'd spent several hours carefully appliquéing everything in place and it was ready to be framed, I stood back and realised the colours of the medallion no longer seemed as vibrant as they had against the pink flowers in our garden...and so I very carefully unpicked it all! With the distance of time, I'm now unsure what I disliked about it, but maybe it looks better in the photo thank it did in person. 

I spent days returning to trial different backgrounds and eventually decided on this blue one. I ironed a very fine, soft layer of black iron-on interfacing to give the fabric a little more stability and all was well...

...until at some point, I pressed it again and tiny black glue dots from the interfacing appeared all over the front of backing fabric. I was devastated, especially as I've used iron-on interfacing hundreds of times and never experienced anything like this. 

If you tap on the image, you'll be able to see the dots in all their vile bespeckled glory! For a while, I tried to live with it and tell myself the dots didn't bother me too much, but when I took it to my sewing group and chatted about it with them, I realised it really did bother me. And also that I wasn't convinced the blue backing fabric even worked anyway. In fact, I found it horrid and the square blue border, which worked so well with the peach background, just faded away against the blue. So all in all, it was an abomination that needed to be hacked at AGAIN with a seam ripper. I'd worried doing such a thing TWICE may leave me calling my sanity into question, but I felt so relieved once it was done that I realised the task heralded the preservation of sanity rather than its destruction. I talked it over a bit more with Carolyn, and she suggested that if I was going to choose a different backing fabric, I could go for something non-directional, which suddenly felt like it made a lot of sense as the circular piecing means the block is non-directional.

After weeks of quibbling over backgrounds, suddenly a choice of two presented themselves and after more consultation, I went with the green. I have no good photos of the final thing - the shade of green seems to change in photos - but I'm actually really happy with it in real life. It sits on a shelf and every evening during dinner my eye catches on it and I realise the combination of colours and piecing just make me feel happy, and even more so beside this beautiful green dish. (The dish was given to me by the editor of a Japanese sewing magazine when she and her photographer came over for lunch one day last year. It brings back memories of a really lovely day and the two greens look deliciously satisfying together - I'm not sure when the photos from that day will appear in the wild, but hopefully at some point during 2019).

One Saturday, when Sussex Sewing Group met up at Pincushion (which, contrarily, is in was something of a field day out of Sussex, although closer to home for me), I was talking with Nicky while we shopped and said that I'd changed out the background and it was now finished; she asked if I was happy with it and when I said I was, she spontaneously gave me a huge hug. I was really touched that she instantly understood how much I'd wrestled with this project and saw finally finding the right background as something worthy of such a celebration. 

Even though it sits on the Favourite Things I've Made list in my head, it's a highly flawed item with one shape in particular proving a visible challenge to piece (if you want to see which, it's the outermost round of pale pink diamonds, every one of which is slightly misshapen). I was so sure the piecing could be improved upon, that over Christmas (in between board games and eating chocolate), I started a second version, which I'll share with you just as soon as I get over the obstacle of taking a photo of it finished (I already have a lot of in progress photos to share)! 

Wishing you a happy week, 
Florence x
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