Category Archives: Random Ramblings

I Made A Thing! And Some Moving News

warning: written on this bloody ipad so the links aren’t all HTML. Ugh.

Oh my goodness, you guys have been SO supportive about my battle with depression (see post below)- I was overwhelmed at your kindness! I was afraid when I wrote the post that no one would even read it as I’d been away so long, but I really felt I owed you all an honest apology. Thank you so much!

And I’ve been sewing again! I’m a member of Romsey Quilters ( and it’s their 30th anniversary this year so we’re making mini quilts to celebrate. Here’s mine:

What do you think? I got the tutorial and templates from Lee at Freshly Pieced ( and I’m now hooked on making minis from her templates. Seriously, why didn’t I make minis before? I can nearly get one from start to finish in a single day. Talk about instant gratification!

And we have moving news! Apparently we’re moving Friday the 8th. I’ve paid for the movers, and even paid the extra so they will pack us up. However, there are still things we have to do and pack ourselves. I’m especially protective of my sewing supplies. (Aren’t we all?!)

I promise I’ll post pics of my new house soon! I probably shouldn’t post any now since technically it’s not ours yet and that would probably be a bit creepy…

I’ll be really glad when this moving thing is over. I’m so stressed that I guess I’m clenching my jaw all day long without realising it, so at night I can’t sleep because I’m in agony. Seriously, I didn’t get to sleep till 5:30! I’m so silly.

I hope you are all having marvellous weekends, and if you lived nearby I’d have you over for my housewarming party. If I ever get off my bum and have one. Maybe we could have a sewing day instead…


Posted in Finished Products, Finished Quilts, Random Ramblings | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

Alive In Kilgore

Warning, this post has almost nothing to do with sewing. Granted, there’s a little sewing, but mostly it’s about my first impressions of Kilgore, Tx.

There is a teeny amount of sewing related stuff, though. I gave my niece a little dolly I’d made (rather badly, if you want the truth), but I’m pretty sure she likes it:

I guess my niece likes the dolly I made her!

Also, I’m writing this on my iPad so there’s no fancy formatting because it’s a huge pain in the ass.

Anyway, Texas is the highest oil producing state in the Union, and they’re pretty serious about it. So serious that they had no hesitation turning the downtown area into oil rig heaven. In fact, I’m sitting in the world’s richest acre as we speak. (well, we’re not literally speaking, but you know what I mean.)


In fact, when they discovered oil was sitting under the downtown buildings, they simply razed them to the ground to get at the oil:


Yes, they really knocked down the hospital to get at the oil. I guess there was enough money generated to pay for more buildings and still come out ahead. There’s a whole park dedicated to it, which is really quite a lovely little place. I took a picture of this old and presumably defunct drilling pump, which I can only assume is in danger of being stolen at any minute due to the fact that it’s behind a locked fence:


In all fairness, I can’t blame them for locking it up because I would totally steal it for a kick ass lawn ornament for my parents’ huge garden, which is like 15 acres. Btw, my dad drove me around their land this morning in a golf cart. Have you ever been off roading in a golf cart? Well, I have and it’s totally doable.

But the down side to living in the boonies is that the wifi is rubbish and the limit is, well, extremely limited. So I’m blogging from the coffee shop because they’re awesome and offer free wifi. Here’s a pic of the big wall:

Kilgore coffee shop

In England, we have the monarchy to be proud of. (and personally I think the monarchy is awesome, so no haters, please.) But Texas is different (like, duh, Jen.) and they’re pretty proud of their ability to generate money from under the ground. Which I totally wish I could figure out how to do back in England under my back garden.

I promise to take some pics of the house and environs. If you’re American you won’t be at all surprised by the, uh, compound. If you’re in the UK, you won’t believe me. But I swear it’ll all be true.


Posted in Random Ramblings, UK craft blog | Tagged | 14 Comments

So I Went A Tiny Bit Mad Yesterday…

…but I swear I totally deserve it. Well, maybe not totally, but I kind of deserved it. I’m nearly finished with my secret project for Sewing World Magazine (sneak peek soon!), and yesterday I took a ‘day off’ to go meet up with Fiona of The Sewing Directory.

Poor Fiona didn’t really know what she was getting into, going to Bath Spa with me. She brought me some threads and some dodgy paperbacks from the 70s. (LOL) However, every time I go, I HAVE to pop in and buy stuff at Country Threads (Does anyone know if they’re under new management? There are more coloured (read: non-brown) fabrics and the lady there was very well informed and lovely.) and at Wool, which is conveniently located about 20 steps from the fabric store. I shouldn’t have spent as much as I did, but here’s my haul:

I didn’t buy much fabric, as you can see. But I did buy 5 skeins of Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply/sport weight yarn to make Jane Richmond’s simple cardigan. I refuse to publicly state how much it cost me. You’ll have to go look. (But it was a lot.) Wish me luck. It’s A LOT of stockingette stitch…

I’ve been pretty honest about feeling a bit low lately, and it’s typically accompanied by feeling somewhat uninspired occasionally. I’ve been working on some ideas for the blog/website for the autumn, and it was SO nice to talk to Fiona about them. Seriously, that woman is a freakin’ genius. She had some brilliant suggestions about how to both broaden and tighten my focus that just crystallised what I’d been thinking about – I am definitely going to pursue her suggestions and start preparing for a grand re-launch.

And although this didn’t actually come yesterday, I wanted to show you the beautiful fabrics that Hantex, Ltd sent me:

They’re from the Modernology range by Pat Bravo and if you’re in the UK and want to buy some, here’s a list of B&M/online shops that stock Hantex, Ltd products. Seriously, this stuff is GORGEOUS. I’m going to use them to make a small notebook cover, just to make sure I know how to do it. Then I’ll probably use them in a swap I signed up for. So they’ll be going all the way to Texas with me so I can sew them on my mum’s machine!

Gotta go pick up Savi and take her to lunch in Romsey! See you tomorrow! :)

If you’d like to receive my blog feed in your Google Reader (or any other reader) just click on the Feedburner (RSS) link below. :)

Subscribe in a reader

© J C Excell, 2012

Posted in Random Ramblings, UK craft blog, UK Modern Quilt Blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Features & Bonus Boob Story ;)

Can you believe the week’s almost over? I hope you have more exciting plans than we do – cleaning up the back garden and packing. I can hardly wait. Oh hey, did you want to join PLAY, my new mini quilt competiton? Details here.

Ok, so I promised you a boob story. A couple years into puberty, my boobs grew to be ginormous. I hated them, always. I got teased, and plus they made me look fatter even at times when I really wasn’t. I always wanted to get a breast reduction, but it’s not like they’re free, are they?

Anyway, I knew they were big, but one day I went to Bradbeers (the local dept store) and got professionally fitted for a bra. Unlike most services that measure you in the bra you’re wearing (which just tells you the cup size of the bra, not whether you fit in it or not), the Bradbeers lady knew what she was doing, and I walked out of there horrified that I was a 36F. An F, people. No one wants to be an F. F stands for Fail. So I went to the GP, who sent me to the surgeon, who warned me I might get scars. Who cares? They’d be smaller! Just the chiropractor bills alone testified to the damage they were doing. So I got on the list and eventually got a date.

Back then Savi was about 4, and in the bath one night, I attempted to prepare her for Mummy’s surgery, that I’d be in hospital, that I’d be sore, blah blah blah.

Me: Honey, I’m going to go into hospital for a couple of days because I’m having surgery. The doctor is going to make my boobs smaller.

Savi (clearly scandalised): Doctors can’t do that! No one can!

Me: Yes, they can. They make it so I’m asleep and can’t feel it, then they do an operation and make my boobs smaller.

Savi: No. That’s not possible.

We went back and forth for a while, me trying to convince her it was possible, Savi adamant that I was clearly shrooming. Finally:

Me: Fine, Savannah. They can’t do it, you’re right. Whatever.

Savi (as I stand up to get out of the tub): Maybe they can do something about your butt, too.

Isn’t she sweet?

The most popular links this week were Ellyn of Ellyn’s Place giveaway (which I believe is still open today):

 And House of Pinheiro’s lovely quilt finish:

If either of you want a Featured button, they’re on the right sidebar. :)

And I’ll see you guys Monday for another Manic Monday Linky Party!

P.S. Because the Google Overlords want to force the entire planet into using their crazy social application, my Google Friend Connect widget has been cancelled. But you can still get me in your Google Reader (or any other reader) by clicking on the Feedburner (RSS) link below. :)

Subscribe in a reader

© J C Excell, 2012


Posted in Feature Friday, Features, Linky Party Results, Random Ramblings, UK craft blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | Tagged | 18 Comments

Stashtacular! Thursday

Today’s Stashtacular! post is up over at Kelly’s Blue Bird Sews. It’s the story of how we ended up creating this stash celebrating event. I must admit much of the creativity of it and most of the good ideas come from Kelly.


(p.s. In her post she lists the giveaway prize as a $25 gift certificate from 1Choice4Quilting, but I messed up so it’s actually a jelly roll from Fat Quarter Shop. Next week’s is the $25 over at Spontaneous Threads. SORRY!)

The giveaway is still open here, so get in on it!

And my lovely Sew Bee Joyful quilting bee still has a few openings. You can read the info on the Flickr group’s page.

Tomorrow’s post will be late. My parents are coming over from Texas and we have to entertain them, but I promise I’ll get it done, even if it’s on Saturday morning!

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in fabric giveaway, Random Ramblings, Stashtacular!, UK craft blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | Leave a comment

Feature Friday + Would You Like a Sexy Glove?

Last night was a whopper. Miss Geek split the top of her thumb open on a knife and it seemed like forever till it stopped bleeding. I was starting to get a little frightened, but then it seemed to calm down enough for us to put a plaster (band-aid) on it.

Problem: We have one plaster in the box, one of those little ones which is only useful for tiny paper cuts. So I drove up to the shop and bought all they had. Which wasn’t much, but we got it covered up.

Next Problem: How will she take a shower? Answer: She sat on a stool in the shower and I washed her hair and helped her get clean. Something I haven’t done in aaaaages! But we had to protect her tape-and-plaster dressing, so this is what we came up with:

© Copyright, J C Excell 2011

The very latest in shower wear, so you can look like one of the Jackson clan while getting clean! If anyone would like one, they’re only £20 each and I’ll post it out to you pronto. You don’t want to miss out – what if someone saw you in the shower without your Sexy Glove? They’d be all like, ‘Oh, well, she can’t be that cool if she’s not wearing a Sexy Glove’ and you’ll be all like, ‘I promise I’ve ordered one from Jenna and it will arrive any day! I AM COOL, DAMMIT!’

Ahem. Sorry for that. On with the features!

The most popular ones this week:

You guys seemed well intrigued by Melissa from Love Affair With My Brother’s fabric organisation – I wish I had that much room to store fabric!

Regena of The Distracted Domestic made this bra bag out of bra fabric – I love meta-accessories! Please, please, can we have a tutorial Regena? You’re so good at sewing, I know it’d be awesome! Seriously guys, go check out her blog!

The always adorable Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting did a post about washing batiks before sewing with them. Looking at what she’s got there confirms my suspicion that the US has way better variety than we do here.

And Suburbs Mama wrote a tutorial for an Ipad pouch – I guess I need to get an iPad before I make one. Sigh.

And Pomona of Little Cottage Comforts shared a tutorial for making a basket liner! So cute :)

Thank you so much to everyone who linked up! I’ve got to dash off to an appointment now. If you’ve been featured and you want a button:

Sew Happy Geek

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in craft linky party, craft linky party results, Feature Friday, Features, Linky Party, Linky Party Results, Random Ramblings, UK craft blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | 7 Comments

What’s Up? Wednesday + Virtual Bee, Diaries and Fabric :)

Don’t forget to go over to the Stashtacular page to join in on the fun! It’s all optional, but it’s gonna be a blast – a fabric diet, a fabric swap, plus TONS of prizes to help you build your stash back up – we’ve got gift certificates from 1Choice4Quilting, plus 3 jelly rolls (winner’s choice!) from Fat Quarter Shop!

And have you guys heard of this One Line A Day book?

Photo © Copyright J C Excell, 2011

It’s only $11.50 at right now, and £9.26 with free shipping on

Here’s another utterly gratuitous shot of it:

Photo © Copyright, J C Excell, 2011

Inside, each page has a date on the top, and five places for you to put in the year, plus a few lines beside that so you can fit a little bit of text in:

Photo © Copyright, J C Excell, 2011

So it’s good for 5 years! I intended to start a diary to eventually give to Savi years ago, but every time I bought a notebook, all those blank pages scared me away – I felt obligated to fill them up, but didn’t really have time to do so. Once or twice a year, I also try to start a notebook with letters to her about the relationship between me and her dad, but it brings up all those old memories that I’m really better off not thinking about. I end up so angry I can’t sleep. Does anyone else do that?

So this is a perfect answer – I keep it on my bedside cabinet, and write in it every night. It only takes a couple of minutes. I usually try to include all 3 of us, such as:

Went to Romsey Quilters today, blogged and quilted – bought some fabric on etsy for Mimi to bring over too! Mike bought a camera lens in London and Savi went to her b-friend Matt’s for dinner.

In a more quilty arena, I cut my Warm/Cool fabrics for Jeni’s QAL yesterday – 50 warm and 50 cool 5″x5″ squares:

Photo © Copyright J C Excell, 2011

I’m really excited about this QAL – it’s my first, and I’m learning loads of stuff about colour. I swear Jeni knows everything about fabric and colour!

Incidentally, would anyone be interested in a Log Cabin Quilt A-Long with me? Maybe mini-quilt size?

Also, I’ve joined the {Sew Bee It} virtual quilting bee, and there are 2 spaces left – if you can commit to it for a year, please go to the Flickr group and ask to join in. If you leave me a comment saying you’re doing so, I’ll tweet Shanna and let her know I sent you.

Finally I wanted to share an awesome fabric deal I stumbled on the other day. I have all kinds of projects planned and going for Stashtacular, and discovered I was in great need (it was dire, I tell you!) of some fabric. I’m not sure why, but I checked Simply Solids sale page and discovered a treasure trove of quilt weight cotton prints for £5 and £6 PER METRE!!! Seriously, if you’re in the UK or EU, go take a look! Here’s a gratuitous shot of what came in the post this morning:

Photo © Copyright J C Excell, 2011

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in Random Ramblings, What's Up Wednesday | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Blogger’s Quilt Festival

There’s still time for Manic Monday Linky Party! Plus, you can still get in on Mug Rug Swap v.2!

I usually do a tutorial every Tuesday, but it’s going to be a late this week. I need to get Mr. Geek to scan the template in, and the tutorial isn’t actually all the way finished yet! With all the craziness of the changeover from my blogspot blog to the domain that I actually own, I have had NO time to sew. To be honest, it’s been sooo stressful, and I’m still getting the hang of things. But has some big advantages over blogspot. If anyone is thinking of making the change and wants advice, email me: jenna (at)

Amy's Creative Side

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, and the quilt I’m entering! There are lots of beautiful quilts entered already, and loads of fab giveaway prizes too. If you’ve got a quilt and a blog, go enter!

quilt pattern pdf

I know you’ve seen this quilt before, when I announced that the pdf pattern was on sale in my etsy shop, but it’s really one of my favourite quilts ever and is quite special to me.

I made this quilt for my sister Serena. I know I’ve mentioned her before, but in case you missed it, here’s a small intro:

Serena is my youngest sister, and besides Mr. Geek, she’s my best friend. We are 13 years apart, so didn’t really become close until we were older. She is one of my very favourite people in the whole world. I miss her so much, and don’t get to see her often. In fact, I haven’t seen her in over 2 years, although we try to speak on the phone a few times a week.

Recently she and her husband moved to Alaska, and as I am in the UK, I don’t think I’ll be seeing her anytime soon. She’s pregnant with her first child; we just found out it’s a girl and they’ve named her Olivia. I really miss my sister, and it breaks my heart that she’s going through pregnancy and birth and babyhood without anyone from our side of the family around to help. Being a sewist and quilter, (and let’s not forget she lives in Alaska!) I decided a handmade quilt might let her know how much I think of her. To be honest, if I could make a quilt for every time I have a pang in my heart from missing her, she have at least one for every day of the year.

I got the inspiration to make this quilt after seeing some Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry fabrics in some beautiful shades of green.  Green has always been Serena’s favourite colour, and it’s not always easy to find lovely green fabrics. When I spotted some, I just started buying up 20cm and 30cm cuts. When I felt I had enough prints I added a couple of solids, too.

So I already had some fabric before I sat down to draw up the quilt pattern. I don’t really know what inspired me except I wanted to keep it very simple, both for me and anyone who might use the pdf pattern. I’m still kind of a beginner to quilting, so my patterns tend to be really simple.

I really got to grips with free motion quilting with this quilt – I had done it for two prior quilts, but I’m actually really proud of the quilting on this one. I did learn a lot about thread and thread tension, too. For quilting, my Brother needs to be cranked up to 7 or 8! I also learned how to write a quilt pattern for others to use and enjoy. And I also learned that even a lap quilt can be squished into a fairly small box with enough determination.

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in Finished Quilts, Lines and Meadows pdf Quilt Pattern, Random Ramblings, UK craft blog | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Mother’s Day Quilt and a Bit of Randomness

Wednesday again? Already? It feels like this past week has flown by! If you still haven’t left a link on the Manic Monday Linky Party, you can do so now!
I keep seeing Mother’s Day stuff all over the blogosphere, which always makes me feel guilty.  I live in the UK, and Mothering Sunday is NOT the same date as in the US.  So what I’ve always done is buy and post a card for my mother when they’re available here.  Pathetic, I know.
But this year, I’m hoping to do better! I got her quilt posted out a couple of weeks ago, and although I don’t actually know whether she got it yet, I don’t think she’ll see this post. So I thought I’d share it!
It’s the Snapdragon Quilt from the Two from One Jelly Roll Quilts Book I have.  I used the Martinique line from Moda, and if you’re in the UK and want to make one small jelly roll quilt without buying all 40 strips, I totally recommend Fabrics Plus!

For the backing I just used one kind of floral fabric as the quilt ended up being about 40″ wide, I just had to use one length and no joins! I love small quilts!

And, to keep the generational theme going, I’ve got a cute picture of Savi being totally reckless and fearless:

Yes, that really is my kid perched on the side of the swing as it goes up and down.  Buzz quickly got a picture of it, then we went over to tell her to get the hell off of there!

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in Finished Quilts, Mother's Day, Random Ramblings | 5 Comments

Toodling Around Thursday. Or, our first geocaching adventure

***Some of you might be looking for my HTML grab button tutorial, but that went up accidentally! So I’m posting for real on Tuesday – I’m really sorry! I’m trying so hard to write more patterns so don’t have much time for sewing tutorials… :( but there will be some of those very soon!

Have you heard of Geocaching? It’s when you go look for treasures using GPS coordinates and maybe some hints.  Some caches can be really hard to find, or they require you to do a bunch of maths or solve puzzles.  Some of them are super easy.

Our first ever geocaching find!

There are a lot of people who go geocaching, and it’s worldwide.  There are little trackable objects, called geocoins, or travel bugs (which are in the form of dog tags, not bugs!) that you can pick up and drop off somewhere else.  Trackables travel the globe, getting ‘logged’ at each stop. Anyone can plant a cache (as long as you abide by the rules…) and anyone can go find one. Sometimes the cache is in a big box and you can swap for goodies, and sometimes they’re really tiny, and you just sign your name.
You can even use your mobile phone! I have an Android phone, and I got the c:geo app for FREE! It’s great! We’ve successfully found 3 out of 5 attempted geocaches – we’re new so not so great… but it’s been loads of fun looking for them.
We were introduced to geocaching by Simon and Jae.  Jae is really enthusiastic about it, and doesn’t seem to mind my stupid newbie questions. She’s been trying to get us into it for a long time, and over Easter weekend we finally took the plunge!
Swapping and signing

We went to one that was very close to our house, and it was sooo much fun! It was in a little plastic waterproof box, and had a few little toys and stuff in it, along with a small log book which we signed. Savi was thrilled with her little Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles van (because the word Ninja promotes terrorism, didn’t you know that?!).

Savi’s little swapped treasure.

If you are trying to lose weight (who isn’t?) or you want to get your kids out more to enjoy nature (and wear them out so they sleep early) you should really consider geocaching!
You might as well give it a try – it’s one of the only activities left that’s still FREE!

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in geocaching adventures, Random Ramblings | 6 Comments