Adventures with Jan, Part 1

Who, you may ask, is Jan?

Actually, what would be a better question.

I need to get a picture, but Jan is my brand new sewing machine (Oh good grief, I named my sewing machine! It’ll be the car next…). It isn’t a totally random name as it is a Janome machine.

I have only had it/her (anthropomorphising- sorry Dad) for a couple of weeks. I spent a silly amount of money at the Festival of Quilts on buying a new machine because I needed more versatility for quilt-along.  Actually, trying out different makes of machine was a lot of fun, and highly amusing. Possibly another post… 

Anyway, my new machine arrived about 10 days later, at which point I realised just how big it is and how much more space than my current machine I would need for storage (I finally got a wheeled bag ordered on Friday, so hopefully that will help). On the other hand, I love the automated things it has which I didn’t have before, although I have reverted today to using the foot pedal rather than the Stop/Start button. And the main plus is the huge throat space and the quilting extension table which came with it.

I did a sampler thing to try out a load of the stitches which I thought I might use (I think there are quite a lot I won’t use), but on Saturday I decided to attempt my first project with the machine. I prepped a couple of mug bags the other day, adding the interfacing and batting on Saturday afternoon, so it was silly to not start sewing.

I have wanted to do a mug bag for a while, especially as I have been carrying a mug to and from quilting classes and groups, and at some point I will probably drop the bag it is in. A mug bag will hopefully give a little more protection. I eventually managed to find a pretty pattern (it turned out I had had this pinned on Pinterest for a while) and set about making it. The pattern is by Bronwyn of Red Brolly (Red Brolly’s Facebook page), but currently her website is unavailable due to personal reasons.

I have broken into my stash (shock, horror!) and found some gorgeous fabrics to attempt 2 bags. I went for some Tilda Candy Bloom fabric which I picked up at last year’s FOQ, and some Ella Blue Chirpy Lola fabric I got in a sale earlier this year. The Solids were Kona from my stash (still trying to work out which colours they were).

The pattern proved straightforward, and I have started to get used to using Jan. I have even braved using some of the auto-stitch features and experimented with needle position. I remembered how to thread the spool and bobbin threads, and am even getting the hang of the automatic threader (I have that on my older machine but never used it).

I finished the bags by hand-sewing the bags into the wraps today whilst Maxi was at school, Mini was at Playgroup (having started last week), the washing machine and tumble dryer were going full pelt, and the sides in the kitchen were drying.

Then I discovered that American mugs must be smaller than UK mugs, as most of my mugs do not fit! Eep! The one I take to class goes in sideways, so that is ok, but I have had to dig out a smaller mug to go in the other. Note to self: if I make these again, add about an inch to each measurement. 

Here they are. I love them regardless of their tight fit. The only thing I will change on them is that I am not so happy with the button/ribbon closure, and may change them for Kam Snaps. Other than that, what do you think? (Matching mug rugs next…)

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A Catch Up

I am sitting writing this (and hoping it will save as I have no wi-fi) in the car in the middle of a field near Sandwich in Kent. I realise this seems a little strange, but I can explain. Mini Mister fell asleep during our drive out here, and since his routine is totally out, any time he actually naps at the moment is a blessing. Hubby had to sit in the car with him yesterday, so it is my turn today. At least I have all the windows open and there is a lovely strong breeze blowing through to keep us cool. It has been rather too warm the last few days for me (and the children, to be honest, as it makes them more crotchet than usual). As for the where, well, the picture shows my current view, Richborough Fort.

Richborough Picklepiemama

Richborough through the windscreen

We last came here when Maxi was a baby (and bumped into the then Archbishop of Canterbury in the shop/exhibition), so decided a return visit was needed. It is a huge open area, with loads of Roman ruins and plenty of space for the kids to run around. Since we are staying near my Dad’s place (and my middle sister and her family are staying with Dad) we have 4 smalls between us to entertain. This should keep them occupied for a bit (well except Mini, as previously mentioned). Richborough was the site of a huge port until the area silted up. The coast is now further away and the fort has fallen into ruins. But the remains of the Saxon walls are impressive (the Saxons used the remains of the Romans fort to build their walls).

Richborough Picklepiemama

Spot the child – Maxi in front of one of the walls at Richborough (picture courtesy of Hubby)

So, a catch-up. Yet again, I have not been writing my blog as often as I should. But it is the summer holidays and we have been quite busy. I have worked my way through some of my sewing projects whilst Mini has been at Nursery and Maxi has been either at football camp, Playscheme or his grandparents’ place in Suffolk. Some housework and clearing out has taken place, but I still have loads to do. I have attempted some baking and making, but since I am following Slimming World, I haven’t tried that many cakes and biscuits. I have, however, discovered that quark is quite good for mousses, learnt how to use powdered and leaf gelatine, rediscovered how many different kinds of dishes can be made with 0% fat Greek yogurt (sweet and savoury), and eaten my bodyweight in fruit and veg! Some experiments didn’t work well and need tweaking, some we never want to eat again, but mostly they have been successes. I do get through an awful lot of fat-free yogurt though!

Summer visits with the kids have included soft play in various places, the beach in Southwold, a few castles (we are planning on another this afternoon, and yet another tomorrow), RSPB MinsmereThames Chase Forest CentreThameside Nature Park (Essex Wildlife Trust), a railway exhibition, the East Anglian Transport Museum in Carlton Colville, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (all the way out to the power station at Dungeness), the Sealife Adventure in Southend, and a theatre trip with Maxi only to London to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and hunting Dream Jars near the theatre. We have read a lot, done lots of crafty things, been paddling in pools and the sea, got muddy, got very tired, caught the sun, poured sand out of clothes and shoes, got through a lot of suncream, and had a lot of fun. Me and hubby even managed to get a night away to go to Birmingham so I could go to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC (so much creativity in one place was truly inspiring – and I now have even more projects lined up…).

Anyway, I think I will wrap it up there for the moment, and go back to sewing hexies. Mini is still asleep, so the above image may be my only view of Richborough today 😊