The Return of the Long Lost Blogger, or Why my head has Stopped me doing Stuff

I keep saying it. I will blog more frequently. I will. Here is a fresh new start. There are going to be lots of posts that I have accrued. It will be regular. I will be a good blogger.

And then it doesn’t happen.

It isn’t just the procrastinator in me. I have struggled for months and months now (stretching into years) to actually do anything. I mean, I eat (too much), I sleep (not enough), I go to work, I look after the kids, I do the housework (sometimes…mostly), I breathe, I exist. But that is it.

I think that actually is the crux of it. I exist. Sometimes I wish I didn’t, but mostly I do. But I have found it more and more difficult to do anything else. You know. The stuff that cheers you up, that you enjoy, that relaxes you, that fulfils you, that destresses you, that you want to do!

I sit. I think. I plan. I pick up things. But I do not do. Or if I manage to start, I stop almost as soon as I have started.

And I don’t know why.

That, I think, makes more even more sad than not doing stuff. The only thing I seem able to do for any length of time is to play mindless games on my tablet. Probably because they are mindless.

Last month, I realised that I could not remember when I had last read a book (other than stories to Maxi and Mini). Now, I love books. You know I do. I have mentioned this before. I store books rather than throw them out. My Kindle is rammed with books. But I hadn’t read for pleasure, for me, for I don’t know how long. It made me want to cry (I struggle with that as well at the moment, I think due to my changed medication). So, as I had something I had to do, although I can’t remember what but possibly planning for school, I decided to put on my long-neglected audio version of Jane Eyre. I bought it last summer to accompany me whilst I sewed quilt binding, but I hadn’t finished it. It was sitting there on Audible on my tablet, gathering dust. So I put it on. I think I managed 2 chapters in the time I had. But it was lovely. I enjoyed it. And then it made me sad because I hadn’t read in so long. I still haven’t read anything, but I have slowly made my way a bit further through the audio book. I need to do it more often really.

Picklepiemama audiobook

My first audiobook. Which I still haven’t finished!

But I still struggle with doing other stuff. The quilting has been neglected. So too has any other sewing (including Maxi’s Cubs badges which had to be sewn on in a hurry the other week as he needed them on his uniform before Camp), or baking, or anything else creative that I usually love. And I did start running last year. It fell by the wayside in the Autumn, but I tried again in January with RED January for Mind. Then I got flu. I have only run once since then.

Picklepiemama running

The only time I have run since the middle of January

I managed to make some bags as presents for my sisters (and the trial version for me). Then stopped again. Then I got my bum in gear and made some headphone/earbud pockets. I must admit I have got a bit obsessed with the lovely patterns produced by Erin of Dog Under My Desk, so I have some more bits ready to start on. More earbud pockets, a bag from a challenge given to bloggers for the UKQU website (I missed the challenge deadline ages ago, but I am still going to make the bag), and a wallet. Planning a quilt for our quilt group’s 5th anniversary. And a stupidly fiddly miniature quilt, which I designed and planned, and have been regretting it ever since, but I am not going to give up now! And all the many, many blog posts which are still almost fully formed, but still in my head.

Picklepiemama 2ZH bags DUMD

2ZH Bags and matching wristlets. Mine is in the middle.

Picklepiemama manchester tart

Manchester tart. One of the few bits of baking I have done.

Picklepiemama miniature FPP

Foundation piecing on a miniature scale. This is one section of the first block. The 50p is for comparison.

But I am still finding it so hard to get going. I finally have a counselling appointment for my obsessional phobia issue and my OCD today. I have been waiting since final referral last November! My original referral was in February 2017. At least I have seen a psychiatrist twice since November. Maybe this appointment will help. Although I am so scared about it. I need to confront my obsession. I want to confront it. But I don’t. I can’t stay like this though. In limbo. Maybe I can finally get rid of the mental lethargy which plagues me.

We shall see ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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Another Project Ticked off the List ๐Ÿ˜Š

The tablet holder is done! And it isn’t perfect by any means, but I managed it and I love it!

 

The pattern and tutorial are courtesy of Caroline at SewCanShe. She originally designed the quilted ipad sleeve back in January. I had been looking for something for my (then) new Samsung Tab S2, but didn’t like any of the flippy ย ones you can buy that turn into stands (too bulky) and didn’t want to pay for a soft case when I felt I could probably make my own. Caroline’s was absolutely perfect and the Blend fabric was gorgeous!

I was never going to be able to get the same fabric, but found some lovely fabric from Riley Blake, Lulabelle and Flutterberry, changing my mind several times about which design I wanted, before finally settling on some jewel-coloured cotton from Michael Miller. The designer is Tamara Kate, and the collection is Birds and the Bees. I have Feathered Flock and Love Bug, both in Navy. I originally bought them in a curated FQ pack from Elephant in My Handbag, which included a feather pattern from the same collection and 2 co-ordinating colours of Flurry from Dashwood Studios. They were used to make an organiser for a friend, and I loved the main fabrics so much, I decided they would be perfect for my tablet case. Now I just needed the pattern or tutorial.

 

Caroline is very busy with all sorts of things, but she did a downloadable tutorial in June. And yes, it has taken me this long to get round to utilising it! Having prepped last week, I sewed it this Thursday and Friday, choosing some stupidly hot days to work whilst Mini Mister was napping. All I can say is that an electric fan full on facing you, whilst you work at the sewing machine, is a definite need rather than an option.

 

I spray basted the 2 pieces of batting to the outer and lining fabrics, before spray basting the batting together, so I had a 4-layer sandwich. This meant I didn’t have to worry about pins or clips being in the way for drawing quilting lines on. Oh, and that was an issue as I couldn’t find any of my fabric marking pencils or chalk or the washable pen that I have. Once that was located ย (and I really need some suggestions for better versions than the cheap one I have), I ruled one line at a time before quilting. I am pleased with the result as it is mostly straight, mostly at the correct spacing, and mostly at the right angles. I have to admit, some unpicking was required, including, after a change of bobbin, ย when I realised that the tension hadn’t reset properly.

Quilted tablet holder Picklepiemama

Quilting complete

 

The quilted piece got straightened and cut in 2, before having 2 corners curved. Then it was on to the zip. And I don’t have a good history with zips and had never before attempted one not on a straight!

 

Well, I got there. Eventually. Using the slowest speed setting, and going back over with the top stitching (at least the basting stitches helped) several times to make sure it was all caught properly.

Quilted tablet cover top-stitching Picklepiemama

Top-stitching the zip and binding

I had made up some bias binding from some of the spare fabric, ย my first attempt to make it using a continuous method. It was a bit wobbly, but there was enough to use. Binding the zip was hard work, especially ensuring that it was lined up properly to get the top-stitching to catch all the way round.

Quilted tablet holder binding pinned Picklepiemama

Zip binding pinned

Then I made a muck-up. A big mistake. I clipped together the raw sides, cut them straight, and the sewed round the 2 of them. Has anyone spotted what I forgot to do? It was nearly disaster…I had forgotten to start undoing the zip so the I could access it once all 4 sides were sewn up! The zip pull was sewn inside the pouch. Eek!

I thought I was going to have to unpick a load, but there was just enough of a gap to get my scissors in and grasp the zip pull with them. A bit of careful yanking with the scissors and I had moved it enough to get access to open it properly. Oops! This is why tutorials always warn you to move the zip into the middle before you close up.

Quilted tablet holder binding raw edges Picklepiemama

Binding the raw open edges

 

Quilted tablet holder Picklepiemama

Binding clipped round for sewing

The last thing was to put the binding round the 2 raw edges (needed some wiggling here to get it right), and then I could turn it and press. And it is done. What do you think? ๐Ÿ˜Š

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DP Challenge – Careful

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Careful.”

Jelly roll, rotary cutter, self-healing mat, quilting ruler

Using a rotary cutter and quilting ruler on a self-healing mat the trim a block for the quilt I am making. Ouch if you aren’t careful!

Oriental string work, royal icing, sugarcraft

Using sugar pearls as spacers in oriental string work on a cake. The royal icing is very delicate, so you have to be very careful not to knock everything off (as I did at least twice when doing this)

Pin cushion, thread catcher

Somewhere to carefully stow pins whilst sewing at the machine – my homemade thread catcher and pincushion.

Daily Post Photo Challenge – Grid

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Grid.”

Sewing grids: 2 quilting rulers, self-healing cutting mat

Sewing grids: 2 quilting rulers, self-healing cutting mat

IMG_20150920_105155

Baking grid: silicon mat, basket weave rolling pin, cooling rack

The hexie addiction begins…

So, a few months ago, an online friend started making mini hexies (hexies = patchwork hexagons). I thought that they looked pretty, but that was about it until I saw the start of her quilt top begin to take shape. Oh wow! So, so pretty! I thought about using some of my scraps of fabric to make some, but it got pushed down the ever-expanding project list, and I forgot about it for a while.

I decided that I needed a project for the summer. Last year it was knitting a blanket for Mini Mister, and I have knitted in previous years too. A new challenge was needed, mainly because I don’t want to do any more knitting for a while (too much garter stitch sends your eyes funny!). I remembered the gorgeous hexie quilt top and that made my mind up. Trawling the net for ideas, and ways to finish Mum’s hexie quilt which I have inherited, I came across some lovely versions of a pattern called Grandmother’s Knot Garden. I am still undecided as to exactly what my version will look like, but that is what I am aiming for.

Something else I came across was a rather cute little hexie travel kit on a lovely blog called The Zen of Making. Haley, who writes the blog, has created some excellent tutorials on the art of English Paper Piecing (EPP), the basics of hexie quilts, as well as the tutorial for the travel kit. She was also extremely helpful when I had a question about fixings, which gave me the confidence to have a go.

My kit is not as polished as hers, but it was very good practice for all the handsewing I need to do for a hexie quilt. Finishing basting my first hexies was stupidly exciting, even more so when I whip-stitched them into 2 little flowers. May be I am just weird to get excited over them, though!

Anyway, here is the first hexie flower prior to sewing and my finished kit (please excuse the appalling photos):

DSC_2294

. ย  ย ย ย DSC_2338. ย IMG_20150718_215009

I have followed Haley’s suggestions for little Altoid tins to keep the tools in, but thought about creating a mini thread-catcher, since I don’t want to lug around the one I made for my sewing machine (pictures of that and links to originating blog will be on another sewing page as soon as I can write it). Google threw up hundreds of hits, but most led back to a couple of original ideas. In the end, I went with a variation on one by Red Hen Fabrics from their Quick Projects page. The only thing I bought was the inner hoop from an embroidery hoop for the top, although several other makers suggested using Pringles tubes or something similar. Everything else was scraps, including the cardboard. My variation was to pad both sides of the base as I thought it would help the sides stand up better. Collapsed, it fits neatly in my kit.

thread catcher mini

The final make was another with scraps, and again the result of a trawl of the internet. Having 2 small children around, the thought of having scissors loose in the kit worried me (and yes, I won’t be leaving it lying around for them to pick up, but they do both seem to find things they are not supposed to. The joy of inquisitive kids!), so making a closable cover for my small sewing scissors and my embroidery scissors was a must. There are some beautiful cases out there, including some you can fit all sorts if things into as well as your scissors. However, since I had already made the kit, I just wanted a simple cover. I found the perfect one on a blog called Cotton Cellar. It only uses 2 squares of fabric, and you only sew 2 seams (plus hand-sewing a closure). I made 2 in less than an hour, sizing the measurements up slightly for the larger pair of scissors. I love them! What do you think, especially as all 3 things use different colours of the same Michael Miller fabric for the outsides?

scissor pockets

I am all prepped for the summer now. I wonder how many hexies I will manage to make. I will keep you up-to-date on here. See you soon! ๐Ÿ˜€

Pickle Pie Mama???!!!

It has occurred to me that I have not explained the title of my blog or my blogging name. This is very remiss of me!

Most of what you need to know about me can be found here:ย About page

As for the name, well Pickle Pie is the name I gave my line of brush rolls when I started making them for other people. You can’t really call it a company, as it isn’t registered (yet), but I own a domain all ready for a lovely new website, should I get round to selling properly, and I have a FB page with the name. I even went as far as to buy custom-made labels to sew into the things I make to sell (note to self: I must order more).

So, since I plan on showcasing my makes on this blog, I decided to continue the use of the name. I couldn’t have Pickle Pie on its own as someone has already used that, so Pickle Pie Mama I became.

And why? Because I am a Mama to 2 Pickle Pies, the gorgeous and wonderful Mini Mister T and Maxi Mister A. Two conquerors of my heart, and two very pickley little boys ๐Ÿ˜€

So there you are. That’s me! Bye for now ๐Ÿ™‚