Friday, 24 July 2015

Patchwork, Pudding and Peas

One of my favourite pastimes is sewing patchwork quilts;  I've been making quilts on and off for over 20 years.  I don't pretend to be brilliant at it or an expert but I do love it.  I handsew the quilts as I find something infinitely relaxing about quiet rhythm of needle and thread.
I'm lucky enough to belong to the village quilting group; a group of lovely ladies who meet up twice a month to chat, drink coffee and tea and sometimes enjoy cake - and yes some sewing takes place.  I'm an oddity in the group as most of the ladies use machines and produce the most beautiful work;  one of the joys of the group is the open hearted admiration and support for everyone's work, as well as the wealth of knowledge when it comes to troubleshooting problems with techniques.

At the moment I'm sewing a simple nine-patch quilt for a friend.
I'm using the paper piecing technique, where each part of the quilt is backed with papers (which are removed before the backing and stuffing are added). It's an old fashioned technique but very easy to learn and gives you nice sharp edges to the blocks.

 I'm using florals and cream to create the nine-patches which are arranged in a random colour way on an 8x8 grid with each colour appearing only once in each column and row - hence the carefully numbered piles of blocks, so I know what block goes where!

 Blocks joined into strips.

Strips being joined together.

The blocks all pieced together.

A close up of the colours which sadly look a bit washed out in the rain drenched light.  :-(
They look really crisp and pretty in real life - honest.

 Ironing edges in the first border strips.
I still have to sew up the simple narrow blocks for the outer border and then add the bias binding before I start to take out the paper pieces - a tedious task I have to admit -
and then the quilting begins; I'm going for a random selection of different sized heart shaped outlines.  
Hopefully our friend will love it.

Now for something completely different....
all this rainy weather with below average temperatures has meant that the usual salads and light quiches has given way to more autumnal meals and as it poured down last week I dug into the freezer for the ingredients for ....
 ...steamed steak and kidney suet pudding.
This sumptuous comfort food is a real favourite with Jean-Luc and takes over 3 hours to cook as you cook the filling first.  The great thing about this is you can make loads of filling and then freeze the excess for another day.  The recipe is from Nigella's  Domestic Goddess book; which, as you'd expect, is filled with wonderfully luxurious recipes to treat yourself with.

I had some leftover suet pastry and having found some leftover damson jam in the fridge which was a little past its best for smearing on toast but perfect for spreading over the pastry which was then rolled and baked for jam roly poly.  Oh yes we had it with custard and resulted in a very happy albeit very full Jean-Luc.

We served the steak and kidney pudding with light vegetables including our first small crop of home grown peas.  Hooray!  They are along with the lettuce, chard and hopefully broad beans are the few meagre veggies which have defeated both the slugs and the dreadfully cold and wet summer this year - unlike the kale and courgettes.
Oh well, lessons learnt I suppose but extremely frustrating, especially after my glowing visions of abundant produce filling the freezer for winter.  Pffeh as the Nu would say.
Glorious and delicious garden produce.


  1. As I have one of your quilts on my bed, I think I can say without fear of contradiction you are most definitely brilliant and expert. Add to that incredibly skilled and talented.

    1. Ah sisters! Who'd be without them - my biased best friend. Thank you oh woman whose knitting is worn with pride by myself and Jean-Luc and which garners compliments aplenty - unlike mine. She is seriously good with yarn and needles!

  2. Oh! I am so jealous! I love quilts! I have a few around the house mostly my Mothers and Grandmothers. Your quilt is beautiful and if my Grandmother seen it she would say,"you do such fine work my dear!"
    Our garden is behind this year so no peas yet but I think we will have a bumper crop again this year.I love peas! Gardening is such a surprise each year, you never know what is going to do good and what won't. I find each year is so different.
    Happy Quilting!

  3. Hi Carol,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. Good luck with your pea crop; I think one of the joys of growing food that is every year is an adventure as you find out what's going to be that years winners. This year is definitely a learning yea! :-)

  4. You are brave to tackle an entire handpieced quilt ... I don't think I'd have the stamina! Any nine-patches I ever made were wall-size or smaller, and machine-pieced. But I agree that hand sewing is very relaxing. Your quilt looks lovely, with wonderful colour movement.

    Thanks so much for the comment on my blog - I'm turning into a very minor botany geek myself as I research all these wildflowers, painfully learning a bit more each year. Your tentative identification of my little white mystery flower was very helpful - it led me from pearlwort to sandwort (both Caryophyllaceae). Now I think the flower may be Stiff Sandwort (Arenaria stricta michx, or Minuartia michauxii):

    AND while researching this I found an ID for another flower spotted back in June. So a double thank you! :)