Monday, 2 February 2015

cuckoos & elephants & handbags - oh my!

Today over on the elephant in my handbag blog I have a really simple tutorial for a cushion that uses 2 FQs and takes about 2 minutes. Stephanie and Jo at elephant in my handbag asked me to choose from fabric from the shop for my project, so I picked cuckoos calling by Bethan Janine for Dashwood.
Got to admit, I'm a little bit obsessed with this collection at the minute, I can't seem to tire of it.

Get 10% discount off your first order from elephant in my handbag using the code Monkey

Saturday, 31 January 2015

a little AWOL

So, if anyone is still paying attention, I've been more than a little absent recently. Lots going on here at Monkey Towers which I didn't really want to talk about and I wasn't feeling all that chirpy or bloggy. Honestly, I'm still not, so probably expect intermittent service for a while. Maybe indefinitely...let's see how that goes.

Anyhoo...long story short, there were 4 people in the house, there's now 3, make of that what you will, but it's ok. It will be ok, just keep swimming, right? So, whilst we all adjust to our new lives and new routines and do all of the things that have to be done when a couple become not a couple (honestly, after 16 years there is so much stuff, so much to arrange, so much paperwork - it is no wonder divorces get ugly and we are trying our absolute hardest to make this split as easy as possible with as few arguments as possible and to stay friends...if that is even a possibility. Ugh. It sucks, but it's what's happening and we have to just get on with it, right?)

Sewing is taking a back seat, sewing is hardly happening at all (there's a fair amount of gin being drunk, which impairs my sewing ability!) but I have made some stuff and just finished a little quilt for Dashwood using their Cuckoos Calling line that they can take to the trade show in Birmingham next month (keep them sweet and they will send me fabric all the time, it's a win-win).

So, excuse the crappy phone pictures, the actual quilt is at work right now so I'll get some proper photos and maybe I'll actually blog again before the year is out.

For those of you that have emailed me to check up on me, thank you. I really appreciate it. I'm still here, but mostly you'll find me on instagram because it's less wordy and therefore way easier right now!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Quilt NOW!!!!!

Issue 5 is all about scraps, making the most of small bits of fabric while producing beautiful and creative quilts, cushions and accessories. There's plenty inside to keep you entertained for the month this time around, with some inventive piecing techniques and crazy patchwork and Reene's amazing cover quilt.
Free with this issue, you'll also find 4 project cards to create fun little blocks from Patchwork 318, including a cat (obviously), tea, cake and scissors.

Issue 5 of Quilt Now is on sale now across the UK in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Asda and selected craft, fabric and quilting stores. You can also order the magazine online from For US customers head to Pink Castle Fabrics and Fat Quarter Shop for your copy

Sunday, 30 November 2014

what's new pussycats?

Sorry for the radio silence just recently - it's been a bit topsy turvy in Monkey Towers and my blog has been terribly neglected.
But hopefully I'll be back on form from now on...let's have a peek at what is new and going on in the land of fabrics.

Fat Quarter Shop have wild and free from Maureen Cracknall in store now! It's such a great line, photos don't do it justice

New in at Pink Castle Fabrics are the cloud 9 cirrus solids. These are gorgeous - an amazing handle and such great colours

At sew me a song there's this fantastic route 66/first of infinity bundle

Just in case you haven't picked it up yet, Bobbie Lou's has priory square

Hopping across to the UK, and don't forget I'll be at the Village Haberdashery on December 14th if you fancy coming down and chatting about fabric and stuff with me (just click on that link for the details)
New in are Amy Ellis's modern neutrals. Great stash building prints!

Fabric HQ have this super cute pug print in stock - might be a good one for a dog lover for Christmas?

Birch farm by Joel Dewberry is in stock at Elephant in my Handbag. I've never been the biggest fan of Joel's fabrics, but always love quilts made from them, so I'm not sure why I think I don't really like them.

This collection from Riley Blake is new in at Plush Addict and it's super super cute

I'll also be down at Plush Addict for their open day on December 6th, I'll be there in the afternoon if you want to come say hi!

Lots of new arrivals at Simply Solids this week too

including the latest kona cards

And that's it for this week! Have a lovely Sunday. I'm going to spend most of it sleeping, I think. I'm back onto the early starts for work next week, and it's been a few weeks since I got up at 5.30, so I'm not sure how easy that'll be!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Look! look book!

Shit (sorry) just got real, I have a look book.

When I packed up for Quilt market I left pretty much all my stuff for AGF to take back and photograph (in the sunshine of Miami, I'm not jealous) and put my look book together for Priory Square - and it's up now to look at! In all it's sunshiny goodness!

Go look (but skip past page 4 because that's my face and it's a full page so it's a bit scary if you're viewing it on anything bigger than a phone. It scared me and I see me every day in the mirror, I don't want to subject you to such horrors)

look leslie!!!!!!! It's your bag!!!!!

The AGF blog has a giveaway that closes on the 20th (tomorrow) so hurry along and enter for a chance to win a bundle of Priory Square.

Gosh. I feel all kinds of fancy, you know. All kinds of fancy.

(and in case you live under a rock and haven't heard me banging on and on about it - Priory Square is shipping now to the US and will be in the UK...and Aus and elsewhere? from the middle-ish of December). Buy it all! Make all the things! Show me all the things! Make me things! (Not really...although I do accept kind of yes really)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Sizzix Christmas Blog Hop - day 2

It's been a while since I did a Sizzix post, it feels like the olden days before I trekked across the Pennines to go to work (in the dark and the cold and the rain).

This year the Christmas blog hop is all about gift ideas, using the Big Shot and the Big Shot Dies. I like cushions, I like to make them and give them as gifts (my sister in law also likes cushions as gifts, so I had her and my little niece in mind with this).

I used the drunkards path arch and fan die, the drunkards path quarter circle and cuckoo's calling by Bethan Janine for Dashwood Studio for my project that I got from Fabric HQ. I'm obsessing a bit over this line at the minute, and quite a few people have mentioned it would match really nicely with Priory Square*, so I'll probably get around to mixing the two up at some point soon too. They can be best friends, hanging out in a quilt together. Awww. Bless. Actually, my map print would look pretty good as the background to this, less white (which means easier to keep clean, if you live in a house of messy people like I do).

*it'll be in UK shops middle of next month hopefully


Drunkards path = curves. I am not all that great at curves (look closely, some of my centres aren't brilliant), but at least with the die you know everything is going to match and you're not relying on your poor cutting skills with scissors and templates (maybe I mean my poor cutting skills) and I just pop a pin in the middle of the curve and use that to guide me, it works well for me, just the single pin, and taking things slowly, I'm still not perfect, but I like to think it reflects on my real life personality (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Kerry has a great video tutorial for sewing curves without pins on her blog, I'd recommend you check it out.  She's pretty hot at curves.

This cushion finishes up pretty big. It's stuffed with a 28" pillow form, so it's a good size for everything (including a bed for a cat or a cat-dog if you happen to have one, like I do) and it doesn't take long to whip up, so you get a big gift, without much effort. I see that as an all round win. There are nine full drunkards path blocks - but I split the top and bottom row into half blocks.

I quilted my cushion with Aurifil 2024 in a 50 wt (that's white), in a simple grid. Because 1) I am rubbish at quilting and 2) I like simple grids.

You can follow along with the rest of the blog hop this week by checking out the posts....

Monday 18th November: Jo Carter

Tuesday 19th November: me!

Wednesday 19th November: Jessie Fincham 

Thursday 20st November: Angela Southey

Friday 21nd November: Trudi Wood 

Saturday 22nd November: Mercedes JimĂ©nez Campuzano  (can I just say I want to rename myself Mercedes please. From now on address me as such. Thank you.)

PLUS! There's a giveaway - click here to enter*

Off you go! Make stuff!

*giveaway terms - The competition is open to all residents of the UK and EU excluding Ellison employees. The products listed cannot be exchanged for goods, or towards the purchase of goods at any retail outlet. It cannot be exchanged for cash, or replaced if lost or stolen. An alternative prize may be given. Winners will be chosen at random on Closing date: Friday 28th November at 10am GMT. The decision of the judgement is final and no correspondence will be entered into.Your details will be processed by Ellison Europe (Creators of the Sizzix brand).

Monday, 10 November 2014

Katy went to Market - part two

Quilt market in the Fall runs from Saturday through Monday, with a series of schoolhouses (lots and lots of short and short-ish sales type presentations aimed at promoting your product to shop owners) on the Friday.

This year I took a day off from schoolhouses, they're busy, involving a lot of running around from room to room and I was setting up my booth on the Friday so I wanted to have a little break from the inevitable manic craziness.

setting up - which mainly involved staple gunning everything to the walls

On Saturday the show opens and being overzealous I arrived at the booth way too early. I think I arrived at about 8.30, when the show doesn't open until 9.30. It's good to be prepared though, isn't it? Plus, in all honesty I needed to get myself geared up for the weekend of smiling and talking about me. I'm not shy, but I'm quite introvert and I don't enjoy being the centre of attention. No, I really don't (if that comes as a surprise then I cover it well, so well done me). I'll do it, I'll look happy and like I'm having the time of my life, but inside I'm crying a little bit and wanting all the people to leave me alone. I've got quite a few meet and greet sessions organised in different shops over here in the UK in December and January and I am quietly panicking about them.

I think this quilt will be in Quilty magazine at some point. I'll keep you updated!

At a show like Quilt Market being left alone defeats the entire purpose of paying out all the money to be there, so it wasn't an option, and obviously, the more people that come by, the faster the day goes by and it's more fun.

doll by kristi, bunny is by me using an amazing kit

So I stood there, in my little booth, completely alone because no other fool had arrived as early as me, thinking - would people like my fabric, would they like it enough to buy it, would I hear people actually say they hated it (I've heard it before, it's not nice), would there be anyone that visited that was really mean to me, would anyone bring me a coffee at any point, was my dress too short, could you see my underwear if I bent over, did I look too much like a teenager instead of a grown woman, what would Kristi and me do that night? All the important things.

When the doors opened it took a little while for people to filter through to my booth because it was towards the back, so I could see them approaching (mostly, some people kind of snuck in from the side, taking me by surprise).

And people did come, people that I knew (which was great, to see a friendly and familiar face is always comforting) and lots and lots of people that I didn't know. And apart from one comment from a lady as she walked past ('those are no good' she said, as she pointed to my booth. Thanks lady, whoever you were, you made me feel just peachy) everyone was really positive about Priory Square and a ton of people ordered it, then they came by to tell me they ordered it, or told me they had already ordered it and couldn't wait for it to arrive at their store. I liked those people a whole lot.

Saturday flew by pretty fast, and turned into Saturday night. I went straight from the show to the Hilton for the Robert Kaufman party which had a photo booth. That's never a good thing, I love a photo booth (if there'd been karaoke as well, I would have died and gone to heaven) and I particularly love a photo booth with props. Ridiculous hat? Check. Too many people in the photo booth at once? Check. The Aurifil boys looking decidedly drunk? Check. I decided on Saturday that next time I go over to the US I am getting a US sim for my phone, then I won't have to run around like a lunatic trying to find wifi everywhere I go so I can use iMessage (pointless piece of info for you there).

And after the Kaufman party was the Modern Quilt Guild Mixer. More drinks. More people to see that you only get to see once or twice a year or sometimes never before but you know them because you chat to them all the time on instagram or twitter. It's such a weird experience, and if you get the chance to go to Quiltcon or any retreat type gathering you'll know what I mean. To be with these people that you know, that you live across oceans from, that have the same interests, that totally get see these people is priceless. Like this girl. I love her to the moon and back. I wish she'd just move over here.

Once that was over, we headed back to the Hilton bar where Kristi and I drank a little too much and got lost on the way home because we were just a little bit giddy from all the fun we'd had that day. Note to self - Houston at night is not where you want to get lost. Luckily we found some friendly cyclists who showed us the way home. There are still gentlemen that exist in this world. Thank you to those random cyclists, you saved us from some potentially dodgy situations.

So that was Saturday. I'm just sorting through all of the hundreds of photos on my camera and I'll be back once I've got that organised with part 3 - the booths and the other stuff (the stuff that matters, not just me and my escapades).