Sunday, 14 September 2014

BLOG 214

Home again, home again jiggerty jig! and feeling really refreshed after a wonderful break in America. We went to the Yellowstone and the Teton National Parks and they were truly amazing. It really is impossible to get your head around the vast scale of these fascinating geographical features. We saw many geysers and fumaroles and, of course, ‘Old Faithful’ (after having to make a 74 mile detour because a bridge was being replaced!) And we saw many animals in the distance …. but not one rotten bear. This was somewhat of a disappointment because I was brought up on ‘Yogi, Booboo and Mr Ranger sir’; we were just heartily glad we hadn’t invested the $45 in a can of bear spray!! Anyway, this isn’t a travel or cooking or gardening blog, just a quilting blog so let’s get back to what really matters in life.

 I found the one quilting shop in Jackson Hole where we were based and made some modest purchases. My main observation was that the prices have risen somewhat since I last bought material in the US. That said, they as still cheaper than I could buy them in the UK. Here are some of the fabrics ($12 p y) I bought because I liked them.


 Here are a couple of blues that I bought because I needed them for my Lady of the Lake quilt.

                                 Quilt blues

Here is a picture of a quilt on the wall of the shop which I want to make when I have worked out how to do it.

                                           Wyoming quilt

And these are the bargain fabrics I have just purchased from Quilters Needs (Dot Sherlock) at £4 p y; on the left is the fabric for the triangular in-fills around the edges of the quilt and the fabric for the back of the quilt is on the right. I have batting in stock so there is nothing now to stop me completing this quilt when I have made all the squares. Apart from applying myself, that is.

                          Infill and backing

I don’t take any sewing on holiday these days, I am more likely to be drawing or reading but I have immersed myself in art on this trip as there was a 10 day art festival going on in Jackson Hole. My two favourite artists from this trip are Ringholz (because she works like me with black and colour) and Dean Crouser (because of his freedom with watercolour which is how I would like to paint). Bring their names up on Google images. I’d be interested to know what you think of them.
                                 Rinholz bear
                                            Crouser fish
I have been hand sewing on my fabric book since returning home and here are a couple of the pages I am currently working on. It started in Mareka Philips’s inspirational workshop.
                                           Tree and stitches

Saturday, 30 August 2014

BLOG 213

LADY OF THE LAKE 8 ½” block

 This quilt, made from 8 ½” blocks set on point, can be made to any size you want. I particularly want to cover a 4 foot bed so that it goes almost down to the floor. So in preparation, I have drawn a grid of the blocks on point to work out sizes. My finished block is 8 ½” square on the straight edges and it will measure about 11” from corner to corner.

I am using 2 colour ways, blues and beiges, and I want to use up fabrics from my stash. Unfortunately many are not the size I require so predictably I have had to buy in more fat quarters (Oh dear what a chore!!) I cut out as much as possible from each pair of fat quarters so nothing is wasted but then I swap the colours around to give maximum variety.



For 2 identical blocks, place one beige fabric RS together onto one blue fabric and cut the following:

1 square at 7” and 2 squares at 6 ¼”

On the 7” square, mark one diagonal line. On the 6 ¼” squares mark both diagonal lines.

                                 Mark the diagonals

Use a neutral thread to sew an accurate ¼” seam on both sides of all the diagonals. Press along the sewn lines afterwards to settle the stitches and the fabric.

                   Sew both sides of diagonals

Use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut along the marked diagonal line on the 7” square.

                     Cut on the marked line

On the 6 ¼” squares, cut along both of the marked diagonal lines. Then cut vertically and horizontally (not marked) across the middle of the square (3 1/8” from the straight edge of the 6 ¼” square).

TIP: If you have a good blade on your rotary cutter, you can do all these cuts without shifting the fabric, making it a much quicker process!

                   Cut diagonals and verticals

The 7” squares will produce 2 large squares made up of a blue and a beige triangle.

The 6 ¼” squares will produce 16 small squares.

                         Half square triangles

Place them in a pile on the ironing board with the dark (blue) square uppermost. Press the seam towards the dark (blue) fabric.

           Press seam towards the dark fabric

                           Pressed squares

On the cutting board, use a square ruler to trim away the excess fabric from around the edges. Reduce the large square to 6 ½”. Reduce the small squares to 2 ½”.  (Note: 2 small squares will be surplus to requirements.)

 Lay the block out as shown below.


Sew 3 small squares together to create a short line and sew 4 small squares together to create a longer line.

                     Sew squares into lines

Sew the short line to the edge of the large square first and then sew the longer line along the top to complete the block. Make sure that the tips of the triangles are pointed.

                            Completed block

Press the seams lightly at this stage towards to middle of the block as seen below (the seams can be repositioned if necessary when the final top is constructed).

                            Press the seams

                                 2 8” blocks

Beyond the joy of learning how to construct an unfamiliar block, the other part of making a quilt is sheer slog! I work several blocks at a time so I am either cutting a lot or marking or pressing or constructing or pinning on the design wall. The work soon gets done.

Here is a re-cap of the important steps.

                   1 Mark, sew and slice

                                    2 Press

                                    3 Re-size

                                4 Construct

                                    5 Press

And before you know it you are well on your way to making a quilt.

                   Design wall

We fly to the Yellowstone National Park on Sunday/Monday so there won’t be a Blog next week. Whilst I am there, I will be looking out for more fabric for blocks, borders and backing. It should be far cheaper over there!!!!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

BLOG 212

Foxgloves inspired by another watercolour artist came next.


 This time I decided to form the flowers separately as seen below.
                              Sample foxglove

 A bit of needle-felting onto a piece of foam followed. It was easy to lift them and drop them into place on the background.

                          Sequence on foam

                    Foxgloves un-felted

I rather liked the picture at the un-felted stage but not after felting. The background appeared to be too fussy and the foxgloves seemed lost. Perhaps some hand/machine stitching would help.

                         Foxgloves felted

As I am still trying to find a method which suits me, I tried another way of working. I made a felted background using a wet-felted method but then decided to work a rooster independently. I have hand needle-felted fibres onto netting before to create flowers and I was able to peel them off and drop them into place before completing the wet-felting process. I decided to use my machine to felt this time and thought I was doing a good job; I liked what I had created.

                      Background with rooster

However, when I tried to peel the fibres off the netting it proved impossible. They were all mashed up together (this comes from the department of the bleeding obvious!!).

                          Reverse of netting

 I positioned the rooster onto the felted background ready to needle-felt more fibres over the top to hide the netting …… and at this stage I began to wonder why I am bothering!! People have wet felted in a particular way for centuries, why is it that I think that I can come up with a method that is entirely different. In my defence, I have said in previous blogs that I much prefer the look of the felt at the fluffy stage; it becomes much flatter and dense after the wet-felting process. So I think I have been trying to create a fluffier foreground (rooster) to go on a flat felted background. It isn’t going to work and takes far longer than the normal wet-felting process but I suppose I needed to satisfy my curiosity. Back to the drawing board!

                  Unfinished picture

And, in the sure and certain knowledge that you can’t keep a good quilter down, here is my next project on the theme of  .… And what do you do with a pile of fabric? …… you make a quilt!! We have just had a room decorated and we have ordered a new bed so I can’t resist making a new quilt to go on it. I like scrap quilts and this one will be more ‘controlled’ in that it will be based on two colours, blue and beige. It is an easily constructed version of the ‘Lady of the Lake’ pattern and I will be showing you how to do it in next week’s blog.

.… And what do you do with a pile of fabric? …… you make a quilt!!

Lady of the Lake

The curtains and fabric samples
The block




Sunday, 17 August 2014

BLOG 211


I can’t really get in my workshop at the moment as I am in the middle of the continuing the ‘sort out, clear out and chuck out’ session. It is very untidy but ultimately it will be cathartic.

                                 Workroom clutter

So I am justified in continuing with my felting journey and here we go again! I am trying to ‘paint’ with the fibres and the next couple of samples illustrate that. Here I was attempting to emulate a panel from blogger: ‘Renatos-veltinis’ (Renata-felt).

                 Background fibres

Rather than constructing the flowers straight onto the background, I decided to try and work the poppies independently on foam, by hand with a felting needle, before dropping them in situ. This way I thought I could ‘work’ a better and more accurate flower.

                                Start of poppy

                            Poppy complete

                   Poppy panel unfelted

                     Poppy panel felted

Another poppy panel was influenced by artist Sheila Gill. Paintings that you really like are a good source of inspiration because their creators have already made decisions about what colour looks better where, and they have also created light and shadow to create form. My drawing skills are adequate and they will come in to play at a later date when I have explored the felting techniques and decided what suits me best.


                           Poppy on netting

                             Reverse of netting

                                      Poppy in situ

                                     Unfelted panel

                  Felting with netting

And what did I learn?

Felting the flowers gently on netting worked well. They can be made in advance and peeled off easily. I can imagine myself making flowers ‘on my lap’ in front of the TV.

I like the look of the felting best at the fluffy fibre stage but that is just me and it’s not a viable option.
For the first time, I used netting over the fibres to soap them with my hands. I had avoided this advice on some websites as I thought the fibres would be disturbed; they weren’t. I shall definitely use this stage in future.
Some balls of wool that I used for stems didn’t felt well; mohair seemed to perform the best.

And by way of a diversion, I started to draw patterns from a metal floor in my sketch book. This led to me asking myself how I could interpret it in patchwork. Chenilling came to mind and I thought I would give it a try as a great way of using up fabrics.



                           Divisions of pattern

                                   Sewn channels

                                     First cuts

                                   Washed layers

And what did I learn?

It was very painful to cut all these small channels with small scissors! Even if I had the right tool, which I searched for at the FEC without success, I doubt I would like to continue this exercise.
I found that the top fabric always retains its character but will be a hint of what it was.

The colours of the layers are important. The second layer emphasises the cut and outlines the colours underneath which tend to emerge from the cut.
Machine washing was a bit drastic; there were too many threads to cut away afterwards!