Sunday, 25 September 2016

BLOG 316

BLOG 316
Where do I start? We had a wonderful holiday in S Dakota and there was much to occupy us in the 10 days we were there. As a youngster, our TV viewing was filled with programmes about cowboys and Indians in which the Indians were always portrayed as the baddies but how wrong was that! I learned so much about Western history and native American culture on this trip; all the broken promises to the Indians, the annihilation of their life source in the vast herds of buffalo, the gold rush pushing them from their lands, the range wars …etc. It was uncomfortable viewing at times. And yes I managed to find a quilt show and a quilt shop!!
We opted to stay in an airport hotel at Manchester the night before our flight and the next morning, over a quiet leisurely breakfast, drums started to pound and this greeted our eyes. There were 4 dancers in all and, after 15 minutes of wobbling and gyrating, they departed just leaving a load of feathers as proof that they were there in the first place!

               Manchester airport

 I have passed through Washington many times and anyone who has been there will recall this colourful wall. I always ‘feel a quilt coming on’ when I see it!

                 Washington Dulles airport

 Rapid City is the city of presidents as there are bronze statues of them (42) on every street corner. And I enjoyed the art and crafts there especially the art alley where you can buy a licence and do your own thing in your own way.

                 Bronze statue

                 Art alley

The quilt show was hosted by the Hill City Quilters. It was interested to see how they hung their quilts; they used trouser hangers which meant that sleeves didn’t have to be sewn onto the back. I chose a favourite quilt and was thrilled (nay ecstatic) to find one of my garden gate designs on display! The Lone Star quilts appeared in the shops everywhere.

                 Hanging mechanism

                    Favourite quilt

                Garden Gate

                Lone Star

 We are all very aware of people owning guns in America and so it was no surprise to find them on sale wherever we went. We visited a pawn shop as we had never been in one before (and we watch Pawn Stars on TV!) and Rog was allowed to try an automatic weapon for size. He wasn’t trying to hold up the man behind the counter although from a distance it certainly looked that way!

                Pawn shop
I have always wanted to see Mount Rushmore and see it we did. It was very impressive with Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln staring out of a huge granite outcrop. I can’t get my head around how sculptors see in 3-D and how they work on such a vast scale. It was started in 1927 and finished (as in left unfinished) in 1941 because the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, died and money was diverted to the war effort.

              The Presidents 1

               The Presidents 2

Following this, we then went to see the Crazy Horse Memorial. This was even more mind-boggling! It was started in 1948 when Korczak Ziolkowski was invited by Henry Standing Bear to do the sculpture. (Crazy Horse was never photographed so the image is as it was described by those who knew him.) No government money has been put into the project which perhaps explains why it will never be finished it my lifetime. It is funded by the Memorial Foundation, family, supporters and tourists and it was one of the most hauntingly beautiful sights I have ever seen, mainly because it reminded me of how the native Indians were treated. (‘My lands are where my dead lie buried’ Crazy Horse). They are working on his fingers at the moment.

                Crazy Horse Memorial

                Face of Crazy Horse

               Scale model 1/34th
Add to this all the Western history with cowboys, saddle and spurs; and then there’s Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, the Bordellos, the gold rush and the cow towns etc. It was a fascinating trip!

             Wild Bill Hickok
 And I managed to buy some backing fabric for the corner log cabin quilt. This has already been cut out and the first square is ready for sewing. That will be a dark night cold weather project when I just need to sit at the sewing machine and sew without thinking. It’s good to be back home!

               Backing fabric

                  Ready steady go

Sunday, 4 September 2016

BLOG 315

BLOG 315

Happy September! The temperatures are dropping, the nights are drawing in, the robins are singing, the swallows have congregated and moved on, and the trees are beginning to shed leaves. This can only mean one thing; we will be travelling to America next Friday! And because of that I motored on with the bespoke cushions and they will be handed over on Tuesday. I think they are lovely and cheery and I fancy a set of them myself!


 Now, I have been thinking (dangerous occupation!) for some time that I need to start a long term project not unlike the small journal quilts that have been popular for many years now. I particularly want a project that I can keep adding to when the mood takes me and I certainly want to consider making one a week. If I am going to be that disciplined, the weekly quilts have got to be small or else I will be out-faced by it all! So for inspiration I have gone back to a small wall hanging I made last year for a Quilters’ Guild exhibition on the theme of ….. ’I like Region 13 because…’ It was entitled Diversity and it showed a map of the NW region adorned with fabric luggage labels. The labels were small, varied and easy to sew and they looked good.


               Detail 1

                 Detail 2

                  Detail 3

So I have chosen a standard luggage label as the size of my mini-quilt and the discipline will be how to say what I want to say in that small space.  Sometimes it will be about technique, sometimes an event, perhaps family history or a reaction to something. Who knows where this will take me but as I make my first mini-quilts I am excited by the challenge. Here are the ones I have made over summer.

            Inspired by Suzette Smart

             Husqvarna sewing machine

              Inspired by Richard Box

            Machine stitching

                 Inspire by Susan Lenz

And as I will be on holiday for ten days, there will be no blog for 2 Sundays. We will be enjoying ourselves in the Black Hills of Dakota, Rapid City, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore and everywhere else that area has to offer. And there are quilt shops to find also! I am soooooo excited!


Sunday, 28 August 2016

BLOG 314

BLOG 314

This week I have continued to work on the 5 cushions which I have been commissioned to do. The work has been intense but pleasurable because I am surrounded with colour. I constructed the fronts and then put them on wadding and a backing fabric for quilting. I did 5 different designs with a variegated thread.






I also inserted a zipper opening at the back. Here’s the method I use.

1 Cut a square of fabric 2” larger than the finished cushion front and cut it in half across the middle. Draw a line 1” from the cut edge on the WS of one of the pieces and then turn under 1/8” seam along the cut edges of both pieces so that they don’t fray.

2 Place and pin the pieces RS together. Use a couple of pins to mark the length of the zip on this line so you know where it is going to start and stop. With a matching thread, start to sew along the marked line with a normal stitch to the first pin, and then increase the length of the stitch to a tacking stitch to the next pin. Finally go back to a normal stitch to finish the line.

                Variable stitch

3 Press the seam open on the WS and pin the zip in place centrally along the sewn seam.

                 Position and pin

4 Sew tacking stitches as close as possible to the zip to hold it in place and then remove the pins.


5 Put a zipper foot on your machine and adjust the needle position. Sew on the RS of the fabric, outside of the line of tacking stitches.

               Zipper foot
6 Carefully cut and remove the tacking stitches holding the edges together to open the seam and reveal the zip.

                 Opening the seam

One down, four to go!



And what made me feel old this week? My granddaughter howled with laughter when she saw my teapot with a woolly hat on and wanted to know why it was wearing one! She had never seen a tea cosy before!!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

BLOG 313

BLOG 313

After taking time out to enjoy the Festival of Quilts, it’s now back to what I love doing best; making quilts and immersing myself in colour! Whilst I was at the show, I searched high and low for a suitable fabric for the Garden Trellis quilt as I needed to make progress on it. Here is the fabric I found and I have to say that my chums didn’t think it was right for the job. However, I had that gut feeling that was telling me it might work and it does. I chose this fabric because it was darker than all the fabrics used in the last row of each block and also because it had lots of different colours in it so it would blend in well. It adds depth and definition to the design.

                Lattice fabric


The blocks will be set on point which means that the edges have to be filled in with triangles to straighten them. The individual blocks are just pinned on a design wall at the moment so there is still a long way to go to make this into a quilt. But at least the major decisions have been made to establish the ‘flavour’ of the quilt and for that I am grateful.

                   Infill triangles

 Another project that I have embarked on this week is a commission. I have been asked to make 5 colourful cushions (inspired by my Multi-coloured Dream Quilt) and 2 table runners (thread and soldering iron) for Christmas so I need to get on with them. This commission is all about colour so it is right up my street! So the fabrics are out, the iron is switched on, the machine primed and it’s ready, steady GO!



              Bocks cushion 1

               Sequence cushion 2

                Blocks cushion 2

And what made me laugh this week? We have a ginger cat called Chivers and I know, I just know, that he thinks he’s a tiger!






Sunday, 14 August 2016

BLOG 312

BLOG 312
What a treat I have had this week; 2 nights in the Hilton hotel and a couple of days at the NEC for the Festival of Quilts. This is my yearly pilgrimage as a member of a quilt group and I met up with my chums and we have a couple of days of mirth and merriment! Our quilt wasn’t successful at all this year in the judging, (it was a big category with over 50 quilts in it) but it did provide humour which is why we enter the show (there aren’t many laughs on the surface of quilts believe me!!! ) We took comfort from the fact that there was always someone in front of it studying it detail and enjoying the panels. And what did we do this year? We revived our furry friends the Meer Kats and the quilt was entitled A Quilter’s Tale by Shakesmeer . Here is the quilt and the panels.

              A Quilters Tale











 When I go to a quilt show these days I just take pictures of work that interest me. Here is a flavour of what I wanted to take from the show and I hope it illustrates the depth and breadth of quilting as an art form. Enjoy them!

            Winner group quilt

                Detail of championship quilt (machine whole cloth)

            Group quilt entries


            Suzette’s quilt


             Winner pictorial

              Nelson Mandela

            Second group


Miniature red

              Miniature dresses

               Dimensional (why?)


              Gallery quilt


               A funny quilt

                Funny quilt detail

             Girl with a pearl earring

          Detail 1

               Detail 2!

              Fabulous embroidery

PS: Don't forget that you can see each picture full-screen by left clicking it.  Useful to see the finer detail.