Category Archives: Random Ramblings

Cathedral Windows {links and planning}

You might recall that Buzz and I are off to the British Juggling Convention in Nottingham this weekend. I have some Phillipa Turnbull Crewel Embroidery to take with me. (BTW, I went to a 2 day workshop of Phillipa’s, and it was AWESOME!! And her kits are THE BEST you can buy on this planet.)
But I am afraid I will get bored doing one embroidery all weekend, so yesterday I thought: ‘Why not do a Cathedral Windows pillow, and then I can switch back and forth?’
I used Angela’s Cathedral Windows tutorial from Moda Bake Shop and got to town making 9 white squares.
Then I made an egregious choice in ‘window’ fabric, and spend the evening ripping all the stitches out. Sigh.
But today I went to Green Hill Quilt Shop in Romsey (Did you know David Cameron is in Romsey today? I waited for 10 minutes to see him but got bored. He sucks.) and picked up these:

So now all I have to do before we go is put the marbled blue windows in and cut the prints into smaller squares to add them as I go.
Since I’ll be opening the windows by hand and not machine, I looked around for other Cathedral Windows tutorials. Here are some really good ones:

I’ll share what I’ve accomplished after the convention (If I even accomplish anything at all!).

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in Cathedral Windows, Quilt tutorial links, Random Ramblings | 5 Comments

Feature Friday!

Before the features, let me say: Thank you, everyone who left such encouraging comments on Wednesday’s post. I feel a lot better knowing how supportive you guys are, and you really gave me much-needed confidence.
Also, have you noticed we’re up to 100 followers via Google Friend?! You know what that means, right? Hello: Giveaway!
So make sure you come back Monday for Manic Monday Linky Party and the Fiv-away (follower giveaway). I have some awesome stuff to give out!
And I don’t know how many of you read yesterday’s Dear Mum post, but it was basically an apology for her present being late. Well, my lovely, beautiful, smart-ass sister Serena left this comment:
“Well at least mom will know that you took after her! She never gets her projects done in time!” 

Get on with it, Jen! 
Ok, sorry! So here are the features – and thank you so much to those who linked up!

Lillian Pearl Designs shows how to make a wall organiser – it’s really a great tutorial; lots of thought went into making it easily understandable. Plus it looks freakin cool.

Educator’s Soliloquy shows how she spruced up her home and made a book handbag – aren’t these TV trays cute?

Kelly of Blue Bird Sews shows off her Sexy Hexy quilt – and there’s a giveaway on the same post for vintage fat quarters, so get over there!

Musings of a Glamourpuss shows how to dye coconut for you Easter enthusiasts out there!

And of course, I couldn’t forget Suzy’s amazing doodle frame! Oh how I wish I could doodle like that!

Thank you all for participating in the party! And if you like, you can grab a button:


P.S. You can still sign up for the Mug Rug Swap! We are gonna have a blast!

Posted in Feature Friday, Random Ramblings | 4 Comments

Quilting Books and Shops {Links/Reviews}

This is a great book if you’re looking to make smaller quilts. I find that if they’re much bigger than 60″, it’s really hard to quilt them on my regular sized sewing machine. But these are adorable and small.
has them for £8.67, 42% off. It’s a good deal, as most of the quilt patterns are really versatile and can be used with many different fabric lines, not just the ones they’re pictured with!
And Fabrics Plus has Moda ‘strip rolls’ for £14.50, where you get 20 strips instead of 40 – perfect for making one small quilt to see if you like it! (BTW, I’ve ordered from Fabrics Plus before and they’re lovely)

 This book is great if you’re not sure you want to jump in with jelly rolls but like other Moda Pre-cuts, or you want to make bigger quilts, say for use on a single bed. The patterns are easy, and the directions are very good. is selling copies for £8.74, so it’s a pretty good deal.

Good Quilting Suppliers in the UK:
Cotton Patch
Quilter’s Cloth
Puddleducks Quilts – they’re really lovely to deal with, too.

Posted in Random Ramblings | 1 Comment

WTF? Wednesday – and a plea for advice

Before I get to today’s very funny pics, I need some help/advice. Buzz is a very talented juggler, and actually juggling was kinda how we met. He didn’t go to the British Juggling Convention (BJC) last year and so, with Savi off in the States in April, he and I decided to go together.
Problem: I don’t juggle. At all.
Problem: Most of the places we’ll be spending our days in will not have seating of any kind.
Problem: I’m going to take a bunch of Phillipa Turnbull Crewel Embroidery to do over the weekend, but I don’t fancy sitting on a concrete floor for 3 days.

I ask you: What do I do? Do I bring a pillow? Are there small, portable, comfortable seats I can buy that aren’t obnoxious? I’ve never done this before, and I don’t think our crappy camping chairs are gonna do the job, mostly because they’re too big to carry comfortably. And they’re crappy.
So, if you have a suggestion or a link I’d be grateful. Just leave a comment or email me: 

Thank you! And now, on with the show:

Now, I know you guys spend a lot of mental energy wondering about royal souvenirs. I know I do. I don’t actually have any that depict anyone who wouldn’t be a 400 year old zombie if they were still around, but I find I am drawn to cheesy, overpriced and frankly tasteless royal souvenirs. Just one glimpse of them in a shop and I’m over there like a shot.
Why do I do this? Am I hoping manufacturers will read my mind and make some cool stuff with, say, Elizabeth I, or Charles II? And I’m not even sure what I mean by cool stuff. Toasters? Bicycle helmets? Towels?

But it doesn’t really matter if I want a royal toaster or not, because the only items that are on offer are truly, truly fantastic, funny, and awful all at the same time.

Isn’t this wonderful? Wouldn’t you like one to display in your kitchen or dining room, so that every time your partner comes in for a meal you can remind him/her of his total inadequacy? “Yes, darling, you’re wonderful and all, but you’re not exactly the next King of England, are you? Hmmm?”
Or there’s this one:

I quite like the sentiments of this one, though I am still puzzled as to who would actually display this in their home. Or where.
But you don’t have to buy large things – there are smaller items too.

I’m quite proud of this picture, actually. It’s a shame it’s a picture of bullshit claptrap, right? I’m sorry, did I just say those were claptrap? I meant: Look at this beautiful selection of amazingly designed mugs celebrating the wedding of William and Kate.  Now you too can drink your tea in a royal mug, filled with happy memories of their gorgeous wedding.
And you might need some of these too:

Royal Wedding playing cards? You mean, I can play cards and be reminded of how shit my life is in comparison to these two well-bred, over-privileged, beautiful freaks at the same time? Wow, count me in!!!
And last, but not least:

Holy crap, I can’t decide whether it’s horrifying or hilarious. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

If you want any of these lovely souvenirs, we found them at John Lewis and Waterstone’s.

P.S. I now have 87 Google Friend followers, and 15 Networked Blogs. Some of those are me, so that I can moniter what my blog looks like in different formats (does anyone else do that?)
So do I add those together and have a 100 follower giveaway now? Or do I wait till I have 100 GFF? I have some really nice stuff to give away – bags and stuff.

Posted in Random Ramblings, WTF Wednesday | 2 Comments

Sheepishly takin the week off

I’m sorry everyone. I thought I would be able to keep Savi entertained *and* do this week’s blog posts, but I don’t think I can do both. The thing about having a tween is that she’s old and clever enough to plan each day full of activities… Today was shopping, tomorrow we’ll be painting crockery, and so on.

And really, I like hanging out with her, so I’ve decided to go with the Savi flow this week. So I’ll talk to you all in a week!

Sorry about the crappy picture. This HTC desire is a nice phone, but the camera sucks! the Yum pic is a Savi creation. Say: free picture app!


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Posted in Random Ramblings | 1 Comment

New Fabric Kits! (plus my dr.’s appt went…well?)

Oh my goodness, what a day!
My appt at Lymington Hospital was at 11:45 but I didn’t get in till 1pm! Fortunately the dermatologist, after seeing my breakout, agreed to put me on another course of Ro-Accutane. Yay! But he told me I needed a cholesterol count blood test before I start taking the meds, and that I could get one downstairs without an appt.  So we went down there and asked if I could have a blood test, and holy crap that horrible woman was SO pleased to inform me that no, no appt, no test. Then she added in her snottiest voice that the next available appt was next thursday.  I’m not kidding – she actually smiled this nasty little smile of smug satisfaction when she said it. Ugh.
So now, a 2 week wait to get one done at my surgery, which is ok. I can wait 2 weeks before I start my meds. At least they’re gracious enough to be slightly apologetic about the wait.

But here’s some really good news! I’ve added Cosmetic Bag Fabric Kits in Cath Kidston’s London fabric to the SewHappyGeek etsy shop! So now, if you or someone you know would enjoy making and having a sweet little cosmetic bag, I’ve got just the thing for you! It also comes with a link to my totally free Cosmetic Bag tutorial! UK shipping is free and everywhere else is $3. Seriously, that is how much Royal Mail charges me to send it via Airmail; I make no money on shipping.

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Quilts on the brain!

Hey everyone,
Hope you are all well.  I know I’ve been pretty quiet, but I have actually been sewing! Just didn’t have enough time left over to blog. I’ve sewn two skirts this past week, using a New Look 6843 pattern that you can get here if you’re in the UK. I’ll do a proper review of the pattern later this week when I have pictures of the skirts. (I did learn a very irritating valuable lesson though – always pre-wash!)

The other WIP I’ve been working on is this: 

It’s the quilt I’m making for Savi – it’s called Meandering Path by Ellie of Craft Sew Create (she has lots of great tutorials and quilt patterns on her blog!) and you can get a free tutorial with printer friendly option here from Moda Bake Shop! It was really quick to piece together and it is a really cool looking quilt! So far I’m following what Ellie did, by stippling in the horizontal rows.  Since I’m totally self taught, I always wonder about other people’s stippling. How do they do it? There aren’t any instructions – it seems to be one of those things that’s so basic no one needs to explain it, and I’m too stubborn to leave it at that.
What does your stippling look like? How do you do it? Do you plan ahead? Mark? Just wing it?
Meanwhile, I’ve been dreaming of jelly rolls! I’m so tempted to buy a couple, I even found some on sale at hulu fabrics, but I know I’m getting Electric Quilt 7 for Valentine’s Day, so maybe I should wait until I design an actual quilt?

*total afterthought* – check out Puddleducks Quilts for some really good Moda stuff – they’ve got a 3 for 2 charm pack deal going! I just bought fabric to make this adorable quilt from Melissa from her lovely blog!  (free tutorials there, too!)

Ok, time to sew!

Posted in Random Ramblings | 2 Comments

Etsy Sleep-Shopping?

I came downstairs at 11:15 this morning (hubby didn’t wake me up), and there was a small, white jiffy envelope on ‘my side’ of the coffee table.  I recognised the name (not my own, that’s on all my post) and address – it was from Natalie of More Tea, Vicar?, the etsy shop I bought my luuuuuurrrrrvley wrist warmers from.
My first thought: oh shit, I’ve been etsy sleep-shopping again, how much did I freakin spend? Then I remembered I’ve never done that. (At least not on etsy.  Marks and Spencer’s mobile site was the only one. I ordered clothes so late at night and it was so easy that I forgot I did it. Imagine our surprise when £100 worth of clothes arrived.)
By then the excitement of a package had worked its magic on my brain, and I remembered I had just sold a bag to Natalie:

And with that bag, I included a free gift.  Usually my free gift is a pair of handmade earrings, but I was out. And I had made this wallet:

which I wasn’t going to sell. So I sent this with her bag, partly because I didn’t have earrings and partly because I was really thrilled with my wrist warmers, which I was wearing in the pic for this skirt post.

Turns out, she was so thrilled with her goodies that she VERY generously knitted me another pair of wrist warmers {me squealing with excitement here}:

click the pic to get to the listing :)

Aren’t they awesome?! That was so sweet! So I had to give her some bloggy love and thank her properly for them – I’m wearing them now as I type!

Hey – can you tell I got a new camera? Isn’t that picture sooooo much better than the ones up top? Buzz is teaching me how to really use our new cameras. He’s so smart.

On the crafty side of things, I’m formulating a tutorial for a zippy pouch.  Oh, I know there are a million of them out there, but I had a special need: I want a little pocket on the front for business cards. Is anyone interested? It’s not complicated but it is cute.

Now I better go and kiss Buzz’s ass. Not literally, get your head out of the gutter! No, figuratively, because he just told me he’d buy me Electric Quilt 7 for Valentine’s Day! YAY! So later this year: free quilt tutorials!


Posted in Random Ramblings | 2 Comments

Opinions, por favor?

Ok, so here’s the deal: way back when I was young, skinny and cute I was also really clever as well. I was working on a Masters-that-never-was and I was teaching composition.  I loved that job, and I kinda miss teaching.  So I’ve been thinking about how I could teach from home, and came up with doing handbag patterns.  I know, everyone does them, right?
But here’s how I’d be different: I’m thinking about writing a small ebook-type thing that discusses the basics of sewing handmade bags, along with a few tutorials describing how to make a patch pocket, a zippered pocket, add outside pockets and flaps, add an outside zippered pocket, etc. 
I’m thinking I’d list the pattern and brief tutorial on its own, then offer it for a few dollars more WITH the ebook ‘Handbag Basics’ – not very much more, just like $3.  I’m thinking I’ll create about 10 patterns (clutch, tote, crossbody bag, laptop sleeve, messenger bag, etc). I’d also like to do a few free blog tutorials for handbags/totes, etc. (Anything in particular you’d like to make/see?)
So this is the first handbag pattern I wrote and took pics of while I was making it.  It’s deliberately simple, like for a beginner.
What do you think? I don’t need another bag, so it’s in my etsy shop for $30 if anyone wants it.
 I really value your opinions, and I promise I’ll reply to all of them!
Now it’s time to go work on Savi’s quilt!


Posted in asking for advice, handbags, Random Ramblings | 2 Comments

Flower Tutorials and Links

What do you think? (See below for full story)

Hi everyone,
Hope you are all well.  Just doing a quick post today as I’m working on writing handbag patterns to sell on etsy – if any of you have tried it and have advice, it’s totally welcome here! Same goes with suggestions of handbags you’d like to make but don’t have the time to draft the pattern. Just comment or email me.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been looking to embellish some clothes and bags, so I’ve been trolling through fabric flower tutorials.  Here are a few I really like:
Huge fabric rose tutorial at Trey and Lucy
freckled laundry’s sweet video for fabric rosette
Make It Do’s ribbon peony brooch – lovely!
Simply Vintage Girl’s flowers – uses fire, but not difficult and very beautiful!
Instructables Felt Flower Brooch
Bugs and Fishes Design and Make a Felt Flower Brooch
Betz White’s Felted Flower Brooch – Easy!

Lastly, I’ve been doing some product development for the etsy store and came up with this little wallet – what do you all think? Is it cute? Is it crap? I think I’m too close to it to evaluate it properly:

That’s all I got right now :) See you again soon!


Posted in Random Ramblings | 2 Comments