Sunday, 17 February 2019

Quilt Stamps


Thank you very much to all who linked up to the January Furtling post - I had planned to pop on a few days later to write this post but then my router died and I've had to wait for a new one to be delivered.

In my last post, I mentioned that I got a set of quilt stamps for Christmas and had a few enquiries about them so I thought I'd write a post explaining all about them and where to find them.

I first saw these stamps on Instagram, on Annie's Patch Pix feed in August (she got hers at Festival of Quilts) and had quite a few chats to her about them while I dithered about which set to start off with and which ink pad(s) to buy.  In the end, I decided to get the large Le Moyne Star set because that included a 2" (finished) square and that was the size/shape I thought I'd get most use out of in the initial months - I have plans to sit and stamp my way through my scrap boxes, making postage stamp/nine patch/double nine patch/Irish Chain blocks as well as room in my sewing room (it's a little room with a lot in it). I also bought the small acrylic block to attach the stamps to - the description for each set tells you which size you will need.

Let me first talk about buying the stamps.  If you are in the UK, you need to go to to buy the stamps.  If you are in Canada or the USA, you need to go to  Currently, there doesn't seem to be a way for an individual to buy direct if they're in the EU but not in the UK (you can use the .com site for wholesale orders) or anywhere else in the world, but I think some shops are starting to stock them and you can always see if a friend will have them sent to them and then forward them to you. I found the Rinske Stevens staff very helpful when I used their contact page to make an enquiry, so that might also be a way forward if you don't live in the UK/USA/Canada.  They're also on Instagram and have featured on Hochanda, so maybe that might work for non-UK EU folks?

I didn't buy the ink recommended on their site, but bought Versacraft fabric ink pads from HandPrinted instead because I'm awkward like that! I bought the white one first but soon realised I needed a second colour and couldn't decide so bought the three which I thought would be most useful and have already used them all.

Versacraft fabric ink pads in (clockwise from top left) Sand, Ash Rose, White, Cool Grey.
The stamps are stored between two plastic sheets in the packaging they come in and you simply peel off the stamp you want and stick it to the acrylic block - no glue or faff involved!  When you've finished with it, wash it (I just run it under a cold tap, but you can use soap if you wish), peel it off and put it back in the packaging once it's dry. It's really easy to swap from one stamp to the next, but I can see that additional acrylic blocks could be useful if you're doing a lot of stamping with several blocks to, say, prep a complex block or several blocks.  As it is, I'm only using the 2" square at the moment.

2" square block on the small acrylic block, ready for use.

I tend to work a lot on my lap rather than at a table (I find sitting at a table very tiring and really can't do it for long without symptoms flaring), so I use a table mat as a sturdy but light surface to work on when I'm stamping.  (Which explains the background in the photo above!)

I realised after ordering the stamp set (Mam found the website confusing as each set doesn't have a separate page so I couldn't just email her the link - in the end, I ordered it myself and had it posted to her house so that she knew the right one was ordered) that it would be perfect for my LV scrappy trip quilt - I had intended to machine piece the quilt (it was supposed to be a quick make *chuckles*  I started the cutting in January 2017.  Quick! *laughs so much it goes silent*)

...where was I?  Oh, yes!  I had intended to machine piece the top so all the 2.5" squares (well over a thousand of them) had been rotary cut and I just couldn't face drawing on all the sewing lines so I could hand piece it, but neither could I sit at the machine for long enough to even make one block a week.  Then it struck me that I could use the 2" square stamp to stamp on the sewing lines and actually get the piecing started.  Hooray!  This is my set up for stamping (usually on my knee, but in this case on a piece of white card so I didn't have to crop out my knees):

Ink pad, stamp, coaster (purpose will become clear) on a table mat.
 Of course, because I'm stamping pre-cut fabric, rather than stamping a bigger piece of fabric and then cutting along the (stamped) cutting lines, I can't stamp in the usual wrong-side-of-the-fabric-facing-up-and-press-the-stamp-onto-it method because I can't see the edges of the fabric clearly enough to line everything up.  Instead, I ink up the stamp and place it ink up on the mat:

I've found that one light press on the ink pad on one half of the square and then the same on the other (it doesn't quite fit on the ink pad) is sufficient to stamp two pieces, but it's all personal taste and practice.

Then I place the fabric square right side up on the stamp, making sure I can feel the ridged edges of the dotted lines on the edges of the fabric:

Place the coaster over the top and give it a quick, firm squash with the flat of my hand.

Then, I remove the coaster and peel off the fabric and check that the dotted cutting lines can be seen either on the edge or close to the edge on all four sides of the square.  As I am hand piecing, I will be matching up the sewing lines, not the raw edges or the dotted lines, so that smidge of fabric round the edge will remain there.  (Unless, as in the case of the medium and dark solid aqua fabrics, they will shadow through - those get trimmed to the cutting line before being pieced.)

As you can see, it is a very fine line, but is visible enough to see in artificial light.  I found the white ink to be fine in daylight, but as soon as that faded or it failed to arrive (it is, after all Britain in the winter) and I had to rely on artificial light, I had problems seeing it on the very light fabrics.

It does slightly show through to the front, but no more than a pencil line does, which is what I've been using for years.  And once they're pieced together, that line falls in the ditch and can no longer be seen:

Sewn ink lines are in the ditch and can't be seen, in contrast to the unsewn lines which can still be seen at the top and bottom of the pieces.

Sometimes, I don't always get the fabric lined up quite right on the stamp (usually once or twice for each block - a fail rate of one or two out of forty-nine isn't too bad, I don't think!) and this is where the other colours come in handy.  I wish I could say that I did this deliberately to create a teaching point but...

The sewing line is too light on the left-hand side (which could be worked around as I could just sew with the adjoining piece uppermost) and is too close to the edge because the cutting line can't be seen at all.  (You may be wondering why, on a 2.5" square, there is any leeway at all in the placement of the stamp.  It's because the measurement between the sewing line and the cutting line is a scant quarter inch, so the whole stamp (from cutting line to cutting line) actually measures around 2 7/16ths. This is because, as I've said before, hand piecing lines up the sewing lines, not the cutting lines/raw edges and so the unfinished size of the piece doesn't matter as long as there's a decent seam allowance along all the edges.)

Getting back to my point, if I re-stamped this with the same colour, I wouldn't know which line was which without measuring, but, if I re-stamp with a different colour, I'll immediately be able to tell which one to follow and which to ignore.  I ink the stamp with a different colour and then follow the same procedure as before, but with a bit of extra care when feeling the ridges round the edges and this is the result:

The grey ink (or more white ink on the stamp) would probably have been a better choice, in hindsight, but this is fine for me.
As the lines are so close together, I don't need to worry about the first line showing through on the front, which is another reason to be slightly mean with the ink rather than slightly too generous.

I hope this has helped answer your questions, but please let me know if you have any more queries and I'll do my best to help - I'll also answer them in the comments as well as by email, so that they're visible to everyone reading this post and the comments.

Mini Archie and his chums are very, very busy (I've barely seen them!) on a top-secret mission to escort a VIP to his new home, but found time to pop home for a group photo and to berate me for not finishing loads of things while the internet was down:

I finked you'd have doned thiiiiiis much work while you wasn't distracted by the internet but you hasn't.  I is verrry disappointed in you, BC. 

Thanks for popping in!  

P.S.  (Don't forget that there'll be another Furtling link up at the end of the month - if you want to start writing your post, the code for the Furtling button is always available on the Furtling page - shout if you need a hand getting it into your blog post!)

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Mini Archie's January Furtle Around The Blogosphere

Archie The Wonder Dog

Hello!  And welcome to the very first furtle! I've added a Furtling page to my permanent pages but here's a brief explanation:

Back in the day (gosh, I sound old!), Lynne at Lily's Quilts had a monthly link up (called Fresh Sewing Day) where people shared sewing which had made them happy or which they wanted advice on, or just a round up of all they had done that month.  I loved those posts and connecting with quilters round the world and made lots of friends through them.  As happens, times change and many blogs became neglected in favour of Instagram.  I managed to blog fairly regularly until 2015/16 and I've really missed it.  I decided that having a monthly link up like the old days would help me get back into blogging regularly (well, once a month at least!) so I asked Lynne if I could revive FSD or do something similar and she said generously said yes. With the help of a group of friends (which we named The Furtlers after a comment from one of us) who've been talking about reviving their blogs/have recently started a blog/never neglected theirs in the first place and so are a shining example to us all, I've set up this monthly link up and hope that it helps us rediscover the enjoyment of blogging and the slower pace of life on a blog rather than the often frantic pace which Instagram brings.  (That's not to say that I don't love Instagram, I do, it's just that I find myself longing for a deeper look into a project and to read the story behind it and I think a blog is the best place to do that.)

Please add a link (one per person, please) to your blog post, which could contain: a mosaic of all you've made in January, something you've made/started/worked on, a goal which you'd like to achieve in February (and then in February's post you can reflect on that goal and set yourself another one - I find this particularly handy if I'm in the midst of a big project and finding the making of hundreds of blocks to be interminable), anything crafty you'd like to share.  This isn't just for sewing or quilting, but is for all crafts so if you knit, make lace, make clothes, do anything which could come under the heading of 'craft', then please link up.

If you link up, please visit the link immediately before and after you and leave an encouraging comment - we all know that comments create joy, so let's spread some around. Also, please treat all the linked posts and their authors with respect - I want this to be an inclusive space for all crafters and crafts and all are welcome.  If you're not sure if you're welcome or you belong, you do - this is by no means a closed space and if you want to join, then you are most welcome. If you need help linking up, please leave a comment and I will do my best to help.

To link up, go to the link at the bottom of this page and click on 'link up' (it's a blue button) and then add your link (website URL), a title (this could be your blog name but could also be something interesting to draw people to it (keep it clean!) if you prefer), and your email.  This last one doesn't appear on the link (I will have access to it - I won't use it unless there's a problem and I need to contact you) so don't worry that you're about to share your email address with the world (or the handful of people who find this link), you're not! The link will remain open until 11pm (GMT) on 4th February; if you're seeing this post after this date, I'm afraid you can't link up to the January Furtle, but can link next month if you like.

This month, I have finally started piecing my aqua/low volume scrappy trip blocks.  I've had this project prepped for months (years, possibly) but have never seemed to have the time to sit at the machine and get started.  For Christmas, I requested a set of quilt stamps (find them here) and chose one which had a 2" square so that I could stamp my pieces (they're already cut as I was going to machine piece) and hand piece them instead. So far, I love the stamps (well, stamp - I've only used the 2" square) and it's a lot easier than my usual way of prepping.  Of course, they're no good if you want to create your own blocks made of non-standard pieces, but there are many sets and for the projects I want to hand piece using standard pieces, they're ideal.  I have a fancy to work my way through my scrap boxes stamping 2" squares to make some postage stamp rainbow blocks. At some point...

Here's my first block:

And the back (if you look closely, you can just see some of the stamped lines - for this one I mainly used the white ink pad, but struggled to see the lines at night so have swapped to the sand ink pad for the second block, which I'll hopefully show next month):

Needless to say, Mini Archie is keeping a close eye on progress (which, while slow, is faster than no progress at all!):
Get back to your sewing, missy!

Thanks for popping in!

Inlinkz Link Party

Hazel missed the link up by a few hours, but here's the link to her post: - it would be lovely if some of you could visit her! Thank you!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Coming Soon...

Hello!  I hope you're well and are keeping your spirits up if you live in the northern hemisphere and haven't seen sun in what feels like years. If you live in the southern hemisphere, I hope you haven't melted...

I have a plan for a revival and renaming of an old blog favourite (of mine, at least), so come back on Thursday (31st) to see what's happening...

Monday, 31 December 2018

Long time, no see!


I have been meaning to blog for a few months now but never seem to find the energy to do it (knitting on the settee while watching telly seems more appealing than perching on a kitchen stool in a chilly kitchen and tapping away at a keyboard, somehow), but I wanted to pop in before the end of the year (just!) and say hello!  I have a wish to start blogging on a more regular basis next year (maybe once a month) but need to sort the photo thing out first: at the moment, 99% of my blog photos are hosted via Flickr (with a free account), but their rules are changing in January and so I need to find another way to host photos.  I have downloaded all my photos from Flickr and am slowly going through each one to see if it's on the blog or not.  Those not on the blog will be deleted, those on the blog will stay, and I'm hoping that the latter will bring me below the 1000 photo limit. Wish me luck!

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and say (a belated) Merry Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year and Mini Archie volunteered to do that:

I hope 2019 is a healthy and happy year for you all (and for me!) and I'll hopefully see you here before 31st December 2019!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Catching up...As Usual!

Hello!  I'd like to start by saying thank you very much for all the lovely comments you left on my previous post about Archie.  I'll be honest, I did intend replying individually to each and every one, but I just can't do it, so please consider this your reply.  Thank you xx

I've finished quite a few things, both from my Finish-Along lists and not (oops!), and here's a sample:

Mini Archie's hexy quilt
Mini Archie's hexy quilt

Socks for Moo
Welly socks for Moo

Socks for Sarah
Socks for Sarah (Moo's mam)

Socks for me
Socks for me

A last-minute finish for Q3 of the #2017FAL! This is my #Katedress by @sewmesomething in a black @robertkaufman chambray pindot, bought in @johnlewisretail while on a very special day out with friends earlier in the year. As it's 145cm wide (and pricey),
A tunic (Kate Dress) for me

Can you tell that I abandoned quite a few things close to Christmas last year when I realised I wasn't going to get them finished in time? (And that I still hadn't wrapped any presents/put the tree up and it was 21st December?!) . This crochet wreath is a
A crocheted wreath, started before last Christmas and abandoned when it became clear it wouldn't be finished in time!

Mini Archie's Fair Isle jumper
A Fair Isle jumper for Mini Archie (my first ever Fair Isle and my first ever jumper, what a project to start with!)

I finished my seaside embroidery (on my FAL since Q3 2015) and made it into a pouch
A Lola pouch for a friend

A Lola pouch for my sister-in-law

Another wreath which was abandoned just before Christmas last year

Another jumper for Mini Archie (not Fair Isle this time as I needed to knit a plain jumper to test the pattern) - the tree was added with Swiss darning

And finally (drum roll, please!)... Christmas Cherry quilt is finished!!






I started this quilt four years ago (and started thinking about it at least eighteen months before that!), it's nice to have it finished!

Sorry if some these photos are blurry - I use an app which is supposed to upload photos to Flickr (for use on my blog) and Twitter whenever I post to Instagram, but it doesn't always work (read: often doesn't work) so a lot of these are screenshots taken from the web version of Instagram.  Maybe squint and see if that helps!

Mini Archie has been trying hard to step into Archie's paw prints, and you can see lots of his adventures on Instagram (I know not everyone has an account, but if you follow the link, you can see the posts, just not comment on them) and has proved to be quite a hard taskmaster:

I has awarded BC temporary custody of My Pointy Stick while she stitches down my pompom trim. It has taken four rounds of tacking to get to this point - I doesn't know what that is, but I fink it means she luffs me... #MiniArchieTheWonderDog #theadventure
I is inspecting your sewing.  So far, it is up to snuff...

I hope you've all had a good Christmas and I send best wishes for you and yours for 2018 - may it be the year you're hoping it will be.

Thanks for popping in!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Farewell, Archie

Archie: 2000 - 2017

This morning, I took Archie for his final walk (actually two of them), he had his final breakfast, he made his last visit to Mam and Dad's house, and then he took his final ride in the car on his fluffy blanket.
Do I get a treat for sitting so nicely?
Archie has been in fragile health for many years - he had a really bad back as the result of an attack by a much bigger dog a few years ago, and the injury constantly threatened the feeling in all four legs.  He also had a failing liver and a heart murmur, and the latter was slowly but surely getting worse and meant he was losing power in his back legs.  Throughout all this, he was he usual chirpy and stoic self and always looked well considering how many health problems he had.  He loved his food (particularly biscuits and tuna) and he loved his walks, right up until the end.
I love it here, lots of sniffs to sniff, lots of people to admire me.  Now, how about a biscuit?
Yesterday evening, I took him to the field (one of his favourite sniffing spots) and although initially keen to be there, he lost interest after a few minutes and it was then that I thought 'I think he's starting to fade.'  He was poorly overnight and I got up at half one and stayed up with him, sitting on the floor next to him while he snored away under a blanket without a care in the world.  I just couldn't bear to go upstairs and leave him on what I knew was his last night with me.
It's late, why are you still up?

While I was sitting with him, I thought about where I would take him for his final walk, and eventually decided that he'd like it to be at the beach as in his younger days he loved being there chasing stones, eating seaweed (and then throwing it back up in the boot on the way home) and digging a hole right at your feet if you stood still for longer than thirty seconds.  He was astonishingly good at running into the shallows after a stone and would come back with the right one, even if he'd never seen it before it was thrown.  I don't know how he did it, I can only assume that enough of my scent remained, even when immersed in the sea.  So this morning, I took him for a walk to the headland as it was as close to the beach as I could get him (too far for him to walk/be carried onto the sand and there's plenty of sniffs to be had in the long grass) and he had a marvellous time.  He got straight up off his bed when I asked if he'd like to go for a walk, his ears were fantastic and he wandered round for about twenty-five minutes, even haring off down one of the paths towards the beach.  (Old dogs are a lot like toddlers: they can move faster than you think when they want!)
Just the ticket: one final photo shoot.  Remember our agreement about payment upfront?

Aren't I handsome?

On the way home, I stopped at the top of the road (his most favourite sniffing spot) so he could have one last sniff and say goodbye to all the sniffs he has known and loved. He came back and promptly gobbled up a piece of chicken sausage, and then more sausage along with some chicken.  He was so perky and like his usual self that I began to wonder if I'd been mistaken, but deep down I knew it was a last hurrah and that it was time to say goodbye.  We went to see our favourite vet (and our favourite two receptionists) and he ate nigh on an entire packet of treats while waiting.  It was important that I let him go while he was still happy and still having more good days than bad: I didn't want to hang onto him because I couldn't bear to let him go, I wanted him to still have some quality of life and to walk into the vets', not be rushed in and carried in a blanket.  Me and Mam stayed with him the whole time and he wasn't frightened: I know I made the right decision for him, at the right time for him.

Archie, we met in August 2001 when I visited a small local animal sanctuary with Dad and Charlie, and the moment I saw you in the cage, I knew you were the dog for me and I was the owner for you.  You pressed your side against the mesh so I could stroke you and then you put your paw through one of the gaps and dragged my hand towards your armpit and chest, where you particularly liked to be stroked.  You did that many times over the years and I never failed to remember that moment in the rescue centre.
Fuss me

Thirty minutes after pulling up, and after a little walk round the woods with Charlie (to make sure you got on), we put you in the car and headed for home.  You sang all the way home and wandered round the back of the car, and I wondered if you were starting as you meant to go on.  In fact, you sang in the car for many, many years as you knew that going in the car meant going somewhere exciting.  I can't say I appreciated it all the time, but it was part of what made you you.
Comfier than it looks, honest!

More sun, fantastic!

People have wondered why I decided to call you Archie The Wonder Dog, and that's an easy one to answer: you were wonderful.  And also, because you used to lie on a favourite bed in such a way that you reminded me of Superman:

You were always obedient and keen to please (except when you nearly killed yourself chewing through the casing on the plug for the fridge-freezer while it was plugged in and switched on and it's only because you managed to pull it from the wall before you got right through the casing that I had you until today.  And the time you chewed my car tax renewal notice and the post master humiliated Mam when she handed it over.) and you only got lost once, when you followed the wrong person in the dark.  You'd been living here for about three months and you ran all the way home and waited for me at the gate, wandering out to greet me with an envious nonchalance as I gasped for breath, having also run all the way home after another walker said they'd seen a white dog sprinting up the cut.
Can we get going yet, I've got sniffs to find!
You were the whitest dog I have ever known and you kept your lovely white coat right to the end - no yellowing or grizzled muzzle for you and you deserved the nickname the local bairns gave you of 'Daz Dog': other dog owners would stop to ask how I kept you so clean, but it was all down to you and the fact that you tiptoed round deep puddles rather than running through them.  Not that you were afraid of getting dirty, just that you were afraid of water (which made bath time very stressful, even when you were being washed outside with a bucket of tepid soapy water and a flannel) and I always wondered if something had happened to you as a puppy.  You were in that rescue centre twice: once as a puppy and then again eighteen months later when your first family took you back.  I could never understand how or why they did that, but I'm glad they did because it meant I got to look after the best rescue dog who ever lived, and for that I will always be grateful.
I'm so white, I shine!
Archie, you have been my constant companion for nigh on sixteen years and I don't know what I'm going to do without you.  The house feels odd and I keep looking to see where you are and if you're okay.  I know you are, though, because you're with Dad, Charlie and Alfie, probably running around on the search for food.  You'll have to be quick, though, to beat Charlie to it!
I love tuna!
You loved a walk and you loved a biscuit (or three) and any combination of those made you happy.  You loved to walk on the beach, in the woods, on the moors or just round our local area and you were so obedient that you could be off the lead as soon as we left the roads behind.  You never ran off after something (apart from the odd half-hearted chase of a rabbit when you felt you owed your terrier ancestry to give it a go) and would always come back at the pip of the whistle.  Of course, you weren't always quite so obedient when it came to food and once nibbled a snout-sized hole in the bottom of the spare food bag (which lived under the settee in the conservatory at that point) and ate about a fortnight's worth of food in a few days!

You loved to play find the treat, and I would hide them round the house so you could find and eat them.  You greeted every visitor with the expectation of treats (and weren't afraid to put your nose in their bags to check for provisions) and you once even climbed on a park bench next to a friend who always gave you a treat and ate all the treats out of his coat pocket!  However, you were so charming that you got away with it, and he even got the treats out of his other pocket for you.
There's someone coming and he's definitely bringing biscuits - I requested them!

You were excellent at finding things the food fairy had left for you - an entire packet of biscuits, cheese, burgers, chips, a jam doughnut (although to be fair, that was momentarily left on the ground (in a box) by a boy playing hide and seek with his friends, not by the food fairy, but you weren't to know that and you certainly ate it with impressive speed - the boy couldn't believe how fast you were and how little you chewed it) and the only time you didn't come back when called was when you had your nose in a bag of food or you were searching for the final crumb from a piece of cake.  You always gave yourself away, though, because you'd come back licking your lips and looking very pleased with your find.  You also would spend hours standing at the fence between us and a previous set of neighbours when they had a barbecue because you knew that at some point a substantial piece of chicken would be passed to you.  In fact, they used to cook one specially for you so you didn't miss out!
Any moment now...
You had a lovely curly tail, which was incredibly hard to photograph, and the most expressive ears (and eyes) of any dog I've met: your ear action was good until the end.

Have you taken enough photos yet?

I think the lilac complements my ear action - what do you think?
The wind is playing havoc with my ears!
You loved a sunny spot, either inside or out:
Wall, I do love you.
and would lie on the front grass bathing in the sun and keeping watch for anything happening on the street.
Nothing to report as yet.
I'm afraid I can't look at you for much longer, I need to keep an eye on the street!

You also loved the snow, and would run gleefully through it, not at all fazed by the cold under your paws.
I love snow!!!
You also loved your sleep and would cover yourself completely in a blanket so that you couldn't be seen.  More than once I couldn't find you in the house, only to discover that you were under the heap of blankets and beds.  You much preferred to be under a bed than on it, and I'd often find you perfectly covered by a blanket...and laid on the cold kitchen floor.
I didn't like being in the kitchen by myself

 The sound of gentle snores emanating from a blanket has been the soundtrack to the last sixteen years (well, that and the sound of you whingeing for another biscuit), and the house is silent now it's stopped.  Like a clock that's stopped ticking and which leaves an echoing silence in its stead.

I will miss you, Archie, in more ways than I can say.  I could fill hours with stories of how wonderful you were: kind, gentle, sympathetic, amusing. However, none of them would convey how much I love you or, indeed, how much I know you loved me.

Farewell, Archie, you were adored by many, and you are missed.

Keeping your eyes open and your head up is very hard when you're in a sunny spot.
This is the life!

What's that, Mini Archie
What's that, little one?

My other ear?  I don't know what you mean!

How can you resist this face?   You can't?  Great, I'll have a biscuit, please!

Are you sure pink's my colour?


Goodbye, Archie, and thank you.

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