Saturday, 12 December 2015

Mini octastrings

A while ago I signed up for the Pillow Talk swap on Instagram. I absolutely could not resist it as it was my favourite swap back in the days when Flickr was fun to use. My partner is a fan of scrappy so I decided to resize my Octastring block for an epic mini version.

Each block finishes up around 6" and as each block is made up of 9 patches they are rather time consuming, well over 20 hours of work to get it to this point, but I think the end result is worth it.
Prepare for photo overload, I wanted to remember what each of the blocks looked like.

I echo quilted each of the blocks with a pink variegated Aurifil thread as I wanted the quilting to be simple and fade into the background as there was already so much going on with the scrappiness.
For the back of the cushion I used one of my favourite prints from Anna Maria Horner with the pink solid for a bit of continuity.
Before sending it on to its new owner I had to get a picture of it with the original Octastring quilt. I will admit this was a really tough one to part with!
I really hope my partner loves it as much as I do! Catch you soon x

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The tree is up...almost

I've been hand stitching again this week. I drew up another cross-stitch/embroidery design - a Christmas tree and made it small enough to fit  in a 3" hoop.
There is loads of texture in this mini as I used lots of different 3D stitches to add a bit of personality to what is a very simple design.
I'll be hanging this mini up on the tree along with two other minis I've made - a garland and a slightly over-weight dove of peace.
If you fancy having a go at the Christmas tree yourself you can find the FREE chart in our Payhip store. Catch you soon x

Monday, 30 November 2015

Fa la la la la la la la la

That's obviously Deck the Halls! Once upon a time before patch-working I was crazily addicted to cross-stitch and embroidery. Yesterday I got the urge to cross-stich so I quickly drafted a plan for a basic garland and stitched it up in no time.
I used a gorgeous check from Loominous by Anna Maria Horner as the background and perle thread for the stitching. I have to admit I love the simple effect. Because I'm feeling rather generous I've put the chart on Payhip as a free download so anyone can have a go if they fancy it.
I'm currently stitching up an embroidered version using bullion knots and other bulky stitches to get a bit of texture. I'm also waiting on some ridiculously tiny embroidery hoops to arrive and I intend to fill them with mini embroideries to put on the Christmas tree so expect to see more free downloads in the near future.
 Catch you soon x

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Easy Peasy Mini Tote - Free pattern

When I released the Easy Peasy Christmas Sampler I mentioned that I was going to make a Santa sack from one of the blocks. Well, amazingly, I have actually finished it! It's approximately 10 1/2" x 13 1/2", so a decent size for little gifts and for little ones to fill with their favourite possessions when they want to tote them around. I have visions of dinosaurs and Lego being carried around in this one when Christmas is over.

This fantastic dotty print from Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell was the perfect snowy background for the nutcracker block. I wanted to make sure the bag was going to be up to the task of toting toys for a decent amount of time so lining was essential. I used another print from Gardenvale to pull everything together.
This mini tote took less than an hour to make so it's a perfect last minute make. As making this made me feel festive I thought it might be fun to share how I made it so you can make your own!
You can download the PDF pattern free here. I'd love to see you version if you make one so please feel free to email a picture to or use the hashtags #easypeasyminitote #nelliesniceties on social media. Catch you soon x

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Easy Peasy Christmas Sampler

Yvonne, Emily, Katie, Trash, Mandy, Tina, Paula, Mary, Sue, Virginia, Rosie and Maria did me proud.

Thanks to my trusty pattern testers I'm releasing the Easy Peasy Christmas Sampler pattern today!

Here's a badly lit photo of my finished quilt top. I used Kona solids and the stripy prints from Tula Pink's Elizabeth range for this cheerful kid friendly version.

I've designed this quilt to be a very quick project. There is no foundation piecing and all the blocks are designed to be chain pieced to speed things up when making multiple blocks. The Easy Peasy Sampler is made up of multiples of 5 simple blocks: Nutcracker, Candy Cane, Christmas Tree, Star and Stack of Presents. Here are Yvonne's cute print versions...
...and Trash's.

The 12 page PDF pattern is in pictorial format so there is very little written instruction, as such it is suitable for people with at least a basic knowledge of patchwork techniques. 

The pattern testers have all enjoyed the pictorial format and have found it very straight-forward to follow, I hope that you will agree. Here's an example of the page layout.

If you don't have time for a full quilt you can use any of the individual blocks as the starting point for smaller projects e.g Santa's sack, cushion cover, table runner. Simply refer to the individual block construction diagrams for cutting instructions and you're good to go. I'm going to turn this little chap into a Santa sack for Mackinlay.
The blocks are really simple and lend themselves to being blinged up if that is your thing. Yvonne went to town on this little nutcracker block.
To celebrate the release of this pattern we're offering it for sale at a 50% reduction until the end of November, so grab a bargain now! You can find it in our Etsy and Payhip stores.
We'd love to see any projects you make with the pattern so please do send us a picture or use the hashtag #easypeasychristmassampler on social media.
Catch you soon x

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Hello all. Sorry for the blogging gap, again! I've been very busy recently and blogging fell off the to-do list to save my sanity. One of the things I've been busy doing is putting together a pattern for my Easy Peasy Christmas Sampler.
I have actually made the quilt top but haven't managed to get a decent picture of it yet because of the grey and gloomy light we've got at the moment. Hopefully I'll manage to get a decent shot soon!
I've finally finished drafting the pattern and now I'm after some help testing the pattern.
If you can commit to making one single block of your choice from the sampler by Sunday evening (15th November) then I'd love your help. In return for making the block you will receive the full PDF pattern for the sampler. All I'll need from you is a decent photo of your finished block that I can share when I release the pattern next week. The quickest blocks take less than an hour from cutting out to finish so I'm not asking for a great deal of your time. If you've got time to spare between now and Sunday I'd really love your help! Leave a message here with your contact email or email and I'll get back to you. Catch you soon x

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Ribbon Dance

Issue 15 of Quilt Now is a couple of weeks old now so I'm belatedly sharing with you here what regular readers of the magazine already know. Month 2 of the Quilt Now BOM is Ribbon Dance - a pretty collection of half-square triangles and half-rectangle triangles. Here's the Kona solid version that is in the magazine.
For this month's mini-quilt I used some prints from Doe by Carolyn Friedlander and a fleecy backing fabric.
For good measure I also made one up for my print version of the sampler. I used prints from Carolyn Friedlander's new range, Carkai and a print from The Lovely Hunt by Lizzy House.
I've put a few multi-block layouts together in EQ7 to give you some inspiration if you fancied trying out a quilt using this block. This one makes me think of Argyle idea why, I'm  just putting that thought out there.
This second version uses the block on point.
If you decide to join in I'd love you to use the hashtag #quiltnowbom on Instagram or Twitter so that Quilt Now and I can find your blocks. There are a few blocks on there already which makes me a happy bunny :) 
Hoping all is good in your corner of blogland. Catch you soon x

Monday, 5 October 2015

New additions

We've had a very special addition to our family! My gorgeous sister-in-law, Jade, gave birth to another handsome little man on Friday. Meet Harrison Joshua, little brother to our gorgeous Mackinlay.
I promised Jade a handmade baby changing bag which seemed only fair when she was creating this handsome little bundle. My energy levels have been extremely low recently so it was a case of doing little bits of construction as and when I felt up to it. I revisited an old favourite pattern for the purpose. The slouchy mama bag is voluminous which is just what you need when you have lots of baby stuff to cart around. I used one layer of interfacing and two layers of batting in the exterior shell and quilted a grid pattern using Aurifil to provide a sturdy exterior in the hope that it will live up to daily use.
I pulled lots of fun prints from Tula Pink, Cotton + Steel, Rhoda Ruth and paired them with this gorgeous deep orange kona solid. I figured the prints were grown up enough to be suitable for mummy and interesting enough to entertain small boys on bus trips.
I used some of this awesome tiger print from Tula Pink's new Eden range and felt very proud of myself for sharing one of my favourites ;) It's not as selfless as I'd have you believe really, as I have yardage of this print for a dress!
I added my first (and probably last) concealed interior pocket so there would be somewhere safe to put keys/purse etc. if Jade wanted to leave here handbag at home. I can't even tell you the amount of swearing that was involved in putting this pocket in. No idea why it was such hard work as it's simple enough in theory! As is usual when I make something like this I fell in love with it but I'm sure Jade will love it too and I'll still get to see it often...

While I'm on the subject of bags, there's a free pattern designed by me on the Quilt Now blog for this simple patchwork tote bag.
I hope all is good in your corner of the world. Catch you soon x

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Red letter day

Long term readers of this blog will know that I've had some long term health issues. About 15 years ago I was "diagnosed" with an Idiopathic Brain-stem Disorder (a fancy way of saying we don't know what's wrong with your brain-stem). Following my recent neck/shoulder issues I had another MRI(I've had about 7 over the years), this time the MRI report contained an incidental finding of "low-lying cerebellar tonsils".  Me being me, I hopped on to google and came across The Ann Conroy Trust website and found a page which described pretty much the entirety of the past 16 years of my medical history. I went to my GP and requested (read: demanded!) a referral out of area, to a Neurosurgeon called Mr Flint. I'm so glad I did! Today I travelled to Birmingham to visit Mr Flint (he was lovely!), and he confirmed a suspicion that I had held since receiving the MRI report. I have a Chiari Malformation! Essentially, my brain is too big for my skull and part of the Cerebellum (the cerebellar tonsils) hangs down in to my neck. It explains why I've always been so ill after operations; my poor brain-stem and cerebellum were being squished when I was undergoing anaesthetic! Look away now if you're squeamish. The bit that the arrow is pointing to is the cerebellar tonsils. They should be neatly tucked up inside my skull not hanging down and squishing the brain-stem. Apparently the front of my neck is an issue too, the angle at the front is quite sharp, which accounts for my choking episodes, and puts more pressure on the back of my head/neck. The horrendous vertigo I suffer from is probably related to disrupted flow of the cerebro-spinal fluid!

Fortunately I don't need surgery at this point although that may be a possibility in the future. I don't fancy major brain surgery any time soon! Although nothing has actually changed, my symptoms still remain and I still require medication to get through each day, I feel so relieved to finally have a diagnosis that makes sense! It's a shame it took 16 years and a passing comment in an MRI report to get to this point. Anyway, I'm just delighted to be able to give up looking for answers to this particular problem. Mr Flint left me with a funny thought..."for all the specialists who thought it was all in my head the problem was, it wasn't all in my head, it was in my neck too!"
Catch you soon x

Friday, 11 September 2015

Month 8 - Trellis block

I'm late again with this month's installment of the Nellie's Niceties Mystery BOM. This month is a foundation pieced block that I've called Trellis for fairly obvious reasons.
Trellis is a 12" block and even though it is foundation pieced it still goes together very quickly. As usual it looks pretty in a multi-block setting.
Here's one I made earlier ;)
If you fancy having a go yourself you'll find the info sheet, colouring block and templates here.
If you decide to join in I'd love to see your versions and it would be great to be able to share some more of your work here along with our Flickr group and of course on Instagram #nelliesnicetiesmysterybom #trellisblock. Tell your friends, the more the merrier :) 
Catch you soon x 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


I've designed another EPP block! Rosette is free to download on the Quilt Now website.
 Just so that you know, it looks pretty fab in a multi-block setting too :)
Catch you soon x

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Wow... has it been almost a month since I last blogged here? I'd like to say I've been so busy sewing that I haven't had time to blog but the truth is I've been exhausted so not a lot of anything has been going on. Fortunately I was busy earlier this year so I've still got things that I can share here until my energy levels rise again. Issue 14 of Quilt Now heralds the start of the new mystery BOM designed by yours truly. This time around I'm using Kona solids from the Emily Cier bundle for the magazine quilt. There is only one block to make each month so I'm hoping that it will be easier for some of you to quilt along with me, The first block is a simple Quarter log-cabin. Here's the solids version...
...and a mini-quilt using some prints from Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell.
I'm going to quilt along too this time so I'll have a different version of the finished quilt for myself at the end of it. Each of the blocks would look equally fabulous in multiples so I'll share a couple of ideas with you each month.

If you decide to join in I'd love you to use the hashtag #quiltnowbom on Instagram or Twitter so that Quilt Now and I can find your blocks. There are a few blocks on there already which makes me a happy bunny :) 
Hoping all is good in your corner of blogland. Catch you soon x