Small changes, big difference

There were a few ‘jobs’ that needed doing in my sewing room. A massive clear-out was one, moving a small wall unit to create more hanging space was another, and then there still is the matter of a new floor. 

I’ve kind of tackled the first one. Well, I had. But I seem to have a knack of accumulating stuff… the minute I get rid some old magazines for example, I end up with a batch of new ones that need storing somewhere.

And fabric – although I’ve been raiding my stash recently, I still seem to have an inordinate amount. It’s like the fairy tale ‘The Magic Porridge Pot’ (one of my all-time favourites) in which the magical pot keeps making more and more porridge, and ultimately results in the porridge spilling out of the house, down the road and into the town… I think my fabric containers must have the same magical properties! 

But when I finish a clear-out, I do feel better and I enjoy the ‘extra’ space I’ve created (which is probably why I think I have room for more things!)

The second item on my ‘to do’ list was moving a small shelf unit where I display a variety of containers with ribbons and small buttons. I realised that by moving it slightly to the right, I could create enough space to hang another of my quilts. A very simple change, but one that has had a massive impact on how I feel about my sewing room.

I can now display two quilts on my walls and the result is that it feels even more like a little haven. My sewing room is my space where I can sew, relax and sometimes just hide away from the world for a few minutes.

Quilts hanging in my sewing room – Melanie Vincent

This small change in my room prompted me to change the pictures hanging on our landing, again so I could hang another quilt. In this space I will display quilts according to seasons. At the moment I have my ‘Friendly Scarecrow’ quilt hanging up, as it’s a celebration of harvest time and Thanksgiving. 

Friendly Scarecrow on display – Melanie Vincent

The other item on my list is replacing the flooring. This I have not done yet – and I can see that this will be one job I’m going to put off for a while as the thought of having to move all my stuff out in order to lay down new flooring fills me with dread! 

However, for now, I’m happy with the small changes I’ve made. It’s surprising what a big effect they have had on me. It makes me realise that we should never underestimate the big impact small changes can have.

Till next time!

Mel x

The patterns and/or kits to make the quilts featured in this post are available for purchase through my Melony Patch shop:

Owl quilt – pattern only 

Whimsical caravans – kit and pattern

Friendly Scarecrow – kit

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The heart of little town is complete!

And by ‘heart’ I mean ‘centre’ of my new Christmas quilt – ‘O Little Town‘. I love the simplicity of this design, and have really enjoyed piecing it together as I’ve approached the piecing in a different way.

What’s different to other quilts I’ve designed, is that after piecing the blocks that are paper-pieced, the other pieces that were cut to make the blocks fit together, were done in a very relaxed manner. There were no fixed or predetermined measurements – I simply laid down the paper-pieced blocks – the star, trees, church and houses – and decided how large or how small the ‘joining’ pieces had to be.

The effect is rather higgledy-piggledy which fits perfectly with the simple design and the homespun feel of this quilt. Now all that’s left to do – as I quite often say here on my blog (!) – is to sew the border, add the wadding and backing and do the quilting. Not much then!!

I would like to think that I could have this finished in time for Christmas, but the run up to the big event is always so hectic with events at school, work, friends as well as the choir I’m in, not to mentioned getting the house ready for the festivities!!

Can I fit it all in? I’ll definitely try. Keeping busy keeps me happy and focused on things I enjoy doing. How about you? Are you working on a quilt or other creative project you’d like ready for Christmas? Let me know!

Till next time,

Mel x

O' Little Town by Melanie Vincent
O’ Little Town by Melanie Vincent

 

 

 

 

 

Quilt Spot October 2018

It’s been another good month for quilt spotting in movies; maybe not when it comes to  quantity – as they are only two spots – but definitely when it comes to watching movies I enjoyed.

As you may know by now from reading my ‘quilt spot’ blogs, movie watching in our house is usually a family matter – we tend to choose movies that everyone (and by this I really mean the kids…) will enjoy. Which means that my ‘quilt spots’ are usually limited to movies aimed at little kids (my youngest’s choice) or horror movies (my eldest’s choice). I guess it goes without saying that when I do spot a quilt in one of these movies, it’s a joy – a little serendipitous moment, and one to be celebrated!

This month has been slightly different. First of all, I went to the movies with a friend to watch ‘A Star is Born’ – ever since seeing the trailer a few months ago, I’d been desperate to see it, and it didn’t disappoint. The songs are amazing and the soundtrack has become my new play list when quilting. Sorry ‘The Greatest Showman’ – you have been (temporarily) replaced!

I love the story – I remembered it well from watching the Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson version when I was younger – and think Bradley Cooper and especially Lady Gaga (doesn’t she look amazing more au naturel??) have done an outstanding job in bringing the story up-to-date with the times.

Imagine my surprise when I spotted two, yes two, quilts in the movie!! In the house of Jackson Maine’s (Bradley Cooper) long time friend. In his daughter’s room there is a little patchwork quilt on the bunk bed, made up of little colourful square patches, and then there is, I think, a quilt hanging on the wall. I can’t be sure though, so maybe I only ‘spotted’ one quilt. But as quilts seem to have a certain format – be it shape, size, colour, pattern – what is hanging on the wall looks to me like a quilt. Of course, it could be a poster of some sort, but I don’t think so. It’s in the background of a shot that focuses on the main characters, so it’s not easy to see what it is, but it looks like applique ice cream cones?

Nevertheless, this was was ‘ooooh!’ moment. Luckily the scene is in one of the trailers so I managed to get a screen shot of it to post here! Let me know if you think it is a quilt, and if so, what it’s of!

Quilt Spot A Star is Born
Quilt Spot A Star is Born

The other ‘spot’ was in ‘The Help’ – another of my favourite movies. I have seen this movie a number of times, but this month I watched it with my youngest. She loved it too – there are many important lessons to be learnt from this movie, so it was quite an educational film for her to watch. One of my all-time favourite lines in it, and one that I now often say to my girls, is ‘I is kind, I is smart, I is important‘. I know it may not be grammatically correct, but the message is what matters here.

The quilt I spotted was in Minny Jackson’s (played by Octavia Spencer) humble home, where most of her kids sleep in one bed. They have a well-used patchwork quilt to sleep under. The scene is dark, so it’s hard to see the details of the quilt, but it looks hand-stitched, the colours seem faded, and it’s probably made from bits of fabric left over from dressmaking or the like. How I’d love to get hold of this prop and learn more about it’s history and the maker.

 

That’s it for this month! Have you spotted any quilts in movies or on TV? Do let me know by leaving a comment below.

Till next time!

Mel x

Check out my previous ‘Quilt Spots’: JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril, MayJuneJuly August and September. Also, if you’re a Margaret Atwood fan, check out my ‘Alias Grace’ special Quilt Spot part 1 and part 2.

 

A star is born… in my new Christmas quilt

“Tell me something girl… Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there something else you’re searching for?” And so goes the song ‘Shallow’ from ‘A Star is Born’ with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. I saw the movie a couple of days ago and LOVE the new version of the story, especially the music.

patchwork star and houses by Melanie Vincent
O Little Town by Melanie Vincent

Apart from listening, and singing along, to the soundtrack non-stop today whilst working on my new Christmas quilt ‘O Little Town’, there isn’t really much to connect the movie to my quilting – apart from ‘a star being born’ (patchwork style) – so you may wonder where this blog post is going. So here goes… the opening lines of the song ‘Shallow’ do speak to me, and it seems my new quilt, as it slowly progresses, is a translation of a number of thoughts going through my mind at the moment.

patchwork houses by Melanie Vincent
O Little Town houses by Melanie Vincent

It’s not that I’m unhappy living in ‘this modern world’, but I sometimes wish modern life, or life in general, would place more emphasis on things that really matter – family, friendship, honest work and kindness. In my new quilt, with its simple design and homely feel, I hope to convey these thoughts.

Till next time,

Mel x

O' Little Town sketch
O’ Little Town sketch by Melanie Vincent

Quilt Spot September 2018

This has certainly been a good month for ‘quilt spotting’ in movies and on the telly!

First up are two children’s films, ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Bedtime Stories’. I remember going to see ‘Labyrinth’ in the cinema when it first came out… Well, I say ‘see’, but I actually didn’t see any of it… I was a teenager at the time and, to be honest, I was ‘busy’ with my boyfriend…

So this time was really the first time I sat through and watched the whole movie. I’m pleased to say that I don’t think I missed much all those years ago… with apologies to all the ‘Labyrinth’ fans out there – I understand this movie now has a ‘cult following’.

In my opinion it’s one of those movies that could do with a remake. The story in itself isn’t bad though; the main character Sarah wishes for her baby brother Toby to be taken away by the Goblin King, and her wish comes true. The baby is transported to another world where she then follows to search for him. It’s through her adventures in this labyrinth that she realises how much she loves her brother.

There are two quilts I spotted in this movie. A small hexie quilt folded over a chest at the foot of the double-bed in Sarah’s dad and step-mum’s bedroom, where baby Toby has his cot, and another one, made up of simple square patches, in Sarah’s room.

 

Making wishes come true was also a central theme in ‘Bedtime Stories’, where the main character, hotel maintenance man Skeeter Bronson, played by Adam Sandler, realises that the input his nephew and niece have into his bedtime stories makes them turn into reality, and by trying to influence their input he can try to make things in his life go his way. It’s a funny story about the power of having dreams and working hard to make them come true.

I have seen this movie a number of times as it’s one of my kids favourites. Somehow I never noticed the quilts before. Both kids have the same quilt – so not sure if these were handmade or not, or made the same for both kids. It looks like the quilts are made up of large square and/or maybe rectangular patches with fabrics that feature rectangles and linear shapes.

 

And the last movie we watched this month which featured a quilt, was ‘Wonder’. At least it looks like a quilt – it’s folded at the foot of the bed of the main character’s, Auggie, sister. This is an AMAZING story about a boy, Auggie, who was born with a genetic condition that affects his appearance. Having been home-schooled for most of his life, he enters mainstream education for his fifth grade.

The story tackles a range of issues, but at its core, it’s about wanting to be accepted for who one is, inner strength and belief, and the power of friendship and family. There are some inspiring quotes throughout; my favourites, which I have heard before, are ‘You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out’ and ‘When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind’. I absolutely loved this movie and it’s a definite must-see if you have not already seen it.

09-quilt-spot-wonder.jpg
Screen shot of Wonder

Finally, a ‘quilt spot’ on the telly!! On ‘Grand Designs’ no less! This has to be one of my favourite programmes on the telly and there are so many re-runs on the various channels that are now available, that if I’m stuck for watching something, I can be sure I’ll find an old episode somewhere by flicking through the channels (not something I’m usually keen on doing…).

What I enjoy about this programme is learning about what the people featured want to get out of the design they have come up with, and how hard they work to make it a reality. I may not always like the finished construction, but I can appreciate what it is they wanted to create and achieve.

This time, however, the episode I watched was from the latest series currently being shown on Channel 4. The couple featured wanted to create a modernist house based on one from the 1980s classic – though never one of my favourites – movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. There are elements of the design I really like – the huge window panes that offer fantastic views over the countryside, and how the house blends in effortlessly, and surprisingly, into its natural surroundings. But what really caught my eye were the two quilts in the children’s rooms. Again, I love how traditional crafts like patchwork quilting can work so well in modern surroundings, adding greater warmth and charm to the interior.

 

 

Have you spotted any quilts on the telly or in movies? Let me know by sharing your ‘quilt spots’ below!

Till next time.

Mel x

Check out my previous ‘Quilt Spots’: JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril, MayJuneJuly and August. Also, if you’re a Margaret Atwood fan, check out my ‘Alias Grace’ special Quilt Spot part 1 and part 2.

 

 

Another Christmas quilt coming along nicely…

It’s not too early to start thinking of Christmas… is it?! No, of course not. But to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really planned on making ANOTHER Christmas quilt this year – I have so many already. The truth is, I simply LOVE Christmas, especially Christmas quilts!

And I have SO many other projects in the pipeline that need to be completed. Remember my ‘Home and Garden’ quilt? I haven’t really progressed with that one, as I’m waiting for some fabric to arrive. Also, I have another design which I haven’t mentioned before – ‘Flower Burst’ – for which I’m also waiting for fabric to arrive.

Home garden banner
Home and Garden paper-pieced blocks by Melanie Vincent

Of course, I could always complete the quilting of my ‘blue flowers applique quilt’, but I usually like to hand quilt in the evenings, whilst watching TV. It’s not really something I do on my precious sewing days, which tend to be on a Friday when I’m not working.

Blue flowers by Melanie Vincent
Blue flowers by Melanie Vincent

So I was getting itchy fingers; I don’t like waiting… and I felt I just wanted to get cracking on with another project. I flicked through my ‘sketch books’ to have a look at ideas I had already pencilled and came across quite a few which I would like to complete at some point. But the one that grabbed me was my ‘O’ Little Town’ design. I had sketched this a few years ago but I thought now would be the perfect time to bring this design to life.

One of the best bits is, of course, selecting the fabrics I’m going to use. The ones I’ve chosen are old style country fabrics, with some Civil War prints thrown in too. I’m getting a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about them!!

It will be a paper-pieced quilt and today I spent the day preparing the templates for the star. I created these using the software QuarkExpress, which is used for desk top publishing – it’s software I’m used to working with from my editing/designing days.

I took my time with getting the measurements and proportions to my liking, and tried a number of variations of the same design. This part of the design process is crucial. It’s only through trying things – trial and error – that you get to know what you like and what works.

Star variations
Star variations – the bottom right is the final design.

I’m pleased I managed to settle on a final design and to print the templates on foundation paper, ready to be sewn next week. Whether the quilt will be finished and ready to use this Christmas, who knows! But I’m enjoying the process and that’s what matters most!

Are you making something for Christmas? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Till next time!

Mel x

O' Little Town templates in progress
O’ Little Town templates in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rips, tears and patching things up

It may sound a bit obvious, and even a little silly, but one of the things I love about patchwork quilting is the patchwork itself, and how bits of fabric are sewn together to make amazing patterns and compositions.

Another thing I love, is that if the odd rip or tear appears, it can easily be ‘patched up’ or repaired, especially if you still have some of the originally fabric left, and even if you don’t, you can make the new patch a unique feature of the quilt. It needn’t seem out of place.

On one occasion, I accidentally snipped a quilt top I had been working on for 10 years! My heart almost stopped when I realised what I had done. I felt so silly for carelessly cutting some fabric with my sharp sewing scissors while the finished – yes, it was finished – quilt top was draped over my lap… Really? Why did I do this?? But my initial fear was soon replaced by the quick realisation that I could easily fix the tear by patching it up and turning it into a little feature. I still had plenty of the original fabric left, and it was just a matter of cutting out a patch with a matching pattern and then sewing it on carefully. The finished patch looks good and I’m really pleased with the result.


Similar instances have happened over the years with curtains and other items… I should endeavour to be more careful in future.

I sometimes wish other things in life could be so easily fixed. I have been quiet of late, you may have noticed… and it’s not just because it’s been the summer holidays when most of my free time is spent with the kids, but also because I have had a lot on my mind. It seems the dark clouds that were hanging over me at the beginning of the year are back to haunt me. I have my own rips and tears, but unlike those on fabric which can be easily patched up and sewn over, those in my heart and mind cannot. I know time will heal, but the scars, like the stitches, will still remain.

Till next time,

Mel x

Garden Sampler December 2010 with Milly
The finished quilt with my eldest daughter (2010)