2 years of Postcard from Gibraltar 


This month, Postcard from Gibraltar celebrates it’s second birthday. I had no idea where it would lead me when I wrote my first post and if I had a crystal ball and could see my life in June 2017 I would have been very pleasantly surprised to see that it is still going!


It’s opened all sorts of doors for me and achieved just what I hoped it would – getting my brain working again after spending over a decade at home with my children. It has led to me being asked to contribute to an online publication and given me the to confidence to apply for a small part-time job which I actually got!


It has given me an excuse to keep taking loads of photos as I wander about, and allowed me to waffle on about all my crafty hobbies!


This past 12 months has seen the launch of another Postcard from Gibraltar series “Creative Gibraltar” to add to my “Stroll around Gibraltar” series and most excitingly I was able to launch the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast which you can find through the blog as well as on PodOmatic and, wait for it, iTunes! How cool is that?


Blogging has not only helped me build my confidence, I have also met so many lovely people through it both virtually and in real life. Last September I met my crochet heroine Lucy, from Attic 24 at the Yarndale Festival in Skipton, North Yorkshire and through Instagram I met the very talented Marisa, a Gibraltar born crocheter who lives in London and who has now launched her own blog Mariwish.

Lucy from Attic24 at Yarndale with Llanita the Yarndale Sheep

If you are thinking about taking the plunge and having a go at blogging yourself I can highly recommend it! Do have a go, you never know where it will lead…. 


As Postcard from Gibraltar enters it’s third year, I would like to say a sincere thank you for coming along on my adventure with me!

 

A Quilt Story

In my Sunday Sevens over the past few months I have alluded to the fact that I was working on a special secret sewing project. I can now reveal what I was making was a wedding gift which was given last month. You have probably guessed by now from the title that it was a quilt…

It isn’t my first attempt at making a quilt, that happened when Eldest was about 6 months old. Coping with being a new parent, selling a house and moving to a new area, I fancied an additional challenge. I decided to make a quilt for his pram and as my sewing machine was well and truly buried under boxes of junk, I sewed it completely by hand. Using paper hexagons and some fabric I had bought on the local market I set to work, much to the bemusement of those around me.

It was rather a long winded affair but I managed to complete it while he was still young enough to need it in his pram! It lasted well, despite my hand stitching, and was used by both of his brothers.

I started and failed to finish a much larger quilt for a double bed after that, it still languishes in a box somewhere in the back of beyond I’m ashamed to say… My next attempt was completed using scraps of material I had in my stash; from new pieces of cotton and a few fat quarters bought many moons ago to salvageable parts of Mr Postcard’s old work shirts and even a pair of my Dad’s old pyjama bottoms!

I made this one especially for Mr Postcard to bring in his suitcase to Gibraltar when he moved here on his own a few months before we came to join him. It was a thin summery quilt and meant that he didn’t have to rush out and buy a whole load of new bedding in the interim before we arrived with the furniture van several months later.

Next was this starry affair for the astronomy fan in the family. Made using a large central panel featuring the solar system this was a quick make over a weekend and a perfect birthday present for a young man who still uses it 6 years on.

And that is where my quilt making endeavours end until my recent make, well apart from another unfinished project – my only other attempt at paper piecing aside from my first ever quilt. I am embarrassed to admit I started this for Middle Postcard when he was still small enough to like sea creatures (well he still does to be honest) and most specifically the Octonauts programme on CBeebies. Then I had another burst of activity when Littlest came along and when he had an interest in pirates and sea creatures. Then I ran out of steam…. Perhaps I will have a grandson one day who might like it?!

Now to the present day and the latest quilt. It was for a very special couple who like the colour green and the great outdoors. With those criteria in mind I ordered some fabric. 

It’s so difficult to order fabric online I find, especially if you want different fabrics to sit closely together – you could end up with something which looks good on the computer screen but in reality clashes hideously. I took a gamble and it paid off, the different fabrics looked just dandy next to each other. (It arrived the same day as a Little Box of Crochet- hence the photo).

So the fabric had arrived, but what to do with it? I had all sorts of grand plans for patterns, log cabins etc but thankfully common sense prevailed before I got scissor happy. I opted for the most straight forward design I could think of – squares. Don’t be fooled by squares though – I have discovered to my cost over the years that squares can be tricky little blighters especially if their corners don’t behave and join up with their neighbours in the right way.

I spent a very happy day planning and cutting. I had an unusually free day with absolutely nothing to do whist the Little Postcards were at school (well apart from the usual housework but that can wait). I had such fun listening to podcasts while I worked, it felt like bliss!

I even managed to get some sewing done as I made up the horizontal rows of the quilt. I worked right down to the bell and had to clear everything up as quick as a flash and run to school in time for pick up time. 

A week or so later I had the chance to get my machine out again and get the rows finished and then join them. I am so pleased with how they went together, clearly my almost two years of dressmaking classes with a very exacting teacher who has taught me the merits of careful measuring and 1cm seam allowances have paid off! Just look at the corners on THAT!

The quilt top then had to be put away for a while as things got too busy. In the meantime I bought a good quality king size white sheet for the backing of the quilt and ordered some nice cotton batting to go in the middle of the quilt sandwich. And finally the time came for me to make that sandwich. I had kind of been dreading it, thinking that this could be the point when I finally make a mess of the good work I had done patching the top together.

I was so so careful laying the three different layers out onto the lounge floor, trying my utmost to make sure there were no lumps, bumps or bulges anywhere. I carefully pinned all the layers together before tacking them all together both horizontally and vertically along all the seams. Perhaps this was a bit belt and braces and over the top but I didn’t want to come a cropper when it was time to machine quilt it and it all go wonky.

I machine quilted in the joins between the squares and held my breath for much of it. I have learned from experience that what looks good on the top of the quilt may look dreadful underneath. It worked though!

Next up, binding. I bought a fifth fabric at the same time as I chose the fabric for the top of the quilt. I had intended to use it in the pattern, but the dark grey looked too much of a contrast with the pale grey and acid green of the other patterns so I held on to it and decided to use it to bind the quilt together.

I have never made my own bias binding before but as a habitual reader of craft books over the years I had a pretty good idea of how to go about it. With a protractor to get my angles right I set about marking out the strips ready to be cut.

The whole process was really easy, the only problem I had with the whole thing came when I discovered that my iron shoots out steam horizontally and as I was holding the folds into place before steaming them my fingers got a bit sore!

The binding went on fine as well, although at times I found it a bit tricky to try and pick up all the fabric on the back of the quilt as well so a little hand stitching had to be done to make sure everything was neat and tidy.


And so it was done. Would you like to see it in all it’s glory?

I am really pleased with how it all turned out. What’s most important is that the recipients of the quilt liked it too. (And when I took it to my dressmaking teacher to show her – she said it was worth a gold star, so that was a real seal of approval 😊).

For interest I bought all of the quilting fabric for this project and the batting from Quilt Room. The staff were really helpful especially when I was slightly dim and did something daft at the online checkout – thank you ladies!

Review of 2015 … well half of it!

 

2015 was the year I took the plunge and decided to have a go at blogging. For several years I have followed blogs including Attic24, The Patchwork Heart, Bunny Mummy and  Just Pootling and I have admired the beautiful photography, their ways with words and their beautiful crafts. A couple of years ago I decided I had a long way to go before attempting my own blog but set myself the challenge of taking a photo each day and writing a bit about it. Obviously on some days (like holidays, trips out & special occasions) it’s incredibly easy to snap away and you’re spoiled for choice, on others you are forced to think hard and be a bit creative about what the daily photo might be. This turned out to be good practice for  my blog posts, especially Sunday Sevens.

  Convent Garden, Gibraltar June 2015

Since I gave up (paid) work on the arrival of my first child, I have struggled to find something to entertain my brain, I’ve dabbled in crafts & craft fairs, done a bit of voluntary work and tried and failed to get a job which can work around my main job as a Mum.   

July 2015 (Manchester, Cheshire, Berkshire)

Recently, I guess my friends have picked up on my need to stimulate my brain and a few have independently suggested I try blogging (I hadn’t told them that I had previously considered and discounted it). I guess the planets came into alignment as when the most recent suggestion was made, I thought ‘why not?’ and set off on my Postcard from Gibraltar journey. In order to protect my boys from future ridicule, I decided to keep my blog anonymous for now.

August 2015 (Algarve & Gibraltar)

And so my Postcard from Gibraltar adventure began in June, hence the review of only half a year! We are very fortunate to live in a vibrant and interesting place, so there is never a shortage of things for me to write about, I also now have an outlet to talk about my various crafty fascinations of crochet, watercolour and sewing (friends and family heave a huge sigh of relief).

  September 2015 (Gibraltar)

I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, I am thrilled when I look back at my old posts and see photos of things we have done and seen as a family, it’s almost like an online journal or photo album (both are things I have started many times but failed to complete).

  October 2015 (Gibraltar)

I have met some really supportive and kind people through the magic of the blogosphere and found inspiration for future projects and positive criticism for my own crafty endeavours. I used to think I was just a frustrated crafter who never had the time to create the things I want. While I admit I still get a bit frustrated at times as there are so many ideas in my head of what I want to do, but looking back at the makes I have documented I can see that I do churn out quite a bit as it is!

  November 2015 (crafts) 

Away from the world of the internet, blogging has also helped me build some networks in real life here in Gibraltar. There are some very talented people residing on this great Rock and I am pleased to have met some more of them during the past six months.

  November 2015 (Gibraltar & Marbella)

I won’t ramble on any more, but will leave you with my thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my blog, I’ve had a great time with it so far and very much look forward to what 2016 holds. Happy New Year!

  December 2015 (Gibraltar)