Sunday, 8 December 2019

BLOG 473

Blog 473
I have been suffering this week and I have been good for nothing. I have been laid low by a nasty chesty/wheezy/coughy/coldy bug! I wouldn’t mind but it was the first time this year that I chose to have my flu injection and they threw in the pneumonia injection too!! I should have been bristling with the wherewithal to keep these bugs at bay!! That said it has been good for quiet and gentle sewing which is just what I needed to get on top of the Xmas gifts I wanted to make.  Two serviettes boxes and one tissue box have now been completed.

             Serviette box

            Another serviette box

              Tissue box
In the above picture you can also see some mini gift bags into which I will be putting a mini gift for sewing friends. These were fun to do and making them utilised some of the machine embroidery skills I have learned from others. I started with some pelmet Vilene and cut the pieces to the size I wanted. The long piece is scored so it will fold easily to form the base of the bag.

I wet the Vilene thoroughly and used silk paints to add colour which seeped gently along the fabric. Once dry I embellished them with coloured fabric scraps, sheer fabrics, and stitches by hand and machine. Here is the decorated Vilene.
               Mini bag 1

            Mini bag 2

                 Mini bag 3
I added a printed silk lining to each piece using a fusible so each piece was complete unit in itself.

In preparation for construction, I used a wide close zigzag to finish off the top of the small side pieces. Then the sides were stitched to the base in the same way. Then in one continuous line, I sewed the sides to the front section, sewed along the top edge and then sewed the same side to the back section. I repeated it for the other side. I am very pleased with them and they are just right for a mini gift!

            Adding the sides

          Constructing the bag

             Mini bag 1

            Mini bag 2

           Mini bag 3

I added a matching ribbon tie and tissue paper to complete them.

             Completed mini bags
After finishing all my Xmas gifts, I indulged myself and constructed another pansy for my collection.

               Another pansy

             Collection of pansies
Christmas is gradually creeping up on us. I hadn’t felt much like decorating the house until this weekend so here’s the first area I have decorated.

              More Christmas
And isn’t it such a joy when you can get the grandchildren interested in sewing. Here’s Katie concentrating hard and getting on with one of her hand-made presents.









Sunday, 1 December 2019

BLOG 472

Blog 472
At last the church wall hanging is finished! In my mind it represents ‘Faith’.  All I need to do is date and sign it and hand it over for the committee so they can add a suitable label. They can say on that what they particularly want to say but I will be happy and proud to hand it over.

           Faith wall hanging

Another project I needed to complete this week was a request for 4 ‘art’ cushions. I have made 5 so that there is an element of choice so I hope the lady concerned chooses some from this collection. They are bright and jolly and involve some complex procedures and a lot of decorative stitching.

                   Art cushions
Happy December 1st! You know that song ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ … well, we have just had the family gathering for our Secret Santa today. I usually host it with a roast lunch during which the granddaughters furtively distribute the Secret Santa sacks. In each sack is a wish list so we just buy for one person and choose from their list with a £40 limit. We have been doing this for 5 years now at the request of our daughters who both have large mortgages to cope with. I can’t tell you how much pressure this takes off Christmas present buying and I heartily recommend it! With other friends, we have chosen to go out for a lovely lunch this year instead of buying presents which suits us all fine. That said, I love the colours and joy of Xmas and to that end the Xmas quilts have started to appear around the house.

             Cracker quilt

              Tree quilt

            Xmas Stars quilt

              Crisscross quilt

And I found some lovely window decorations reduced in Matalan. I bought one for each window sill and they add an atmospheric light to the kitchen.

            Window decoration










Sunday, 24 November 2019

BLOG 471

Blog 471
I started to apply and sew the iron-on bias binding along the appropriate pattern lines and then decided to make a slight alteration to the lower part of the basic design. I was happier with the simplicity of the final attempt.

      Bias binding start

       Bias binding finish
I added some decorative stitching to the background colour for texture (Note to self: it would have been easier to do these before the bias binding was applied!!). Once this is bound, it will be ready to hand over.
The city of Chester is over the border in England and only 14 miles away from where we live in N Wales. We visited it yesterday for two reasons. The Christmas Market was the first reason. Now I don’t usually think about Christmas until Dec 1st and I avoid shops and shopping like the plague until then. But we were meeting up with some special friends and I have to say that the colour, the smells, the hustle and bustle, the brilliant busking and the magical atmosphere made it all amazing. I finally caught the full Xmas spirit when it started to go dark and all the Xmas lights came on; it was really lovely. And I have to say that the imaginative and talented busking beat the usual Xmas’s dirges in the shops hands down! No I don’t want it to be Xmas every day, nor will it be a blue, blue Xmas without anyone, and let’s have ‘here it is merry Xmas’ when it is actually here!
The second reason I went to Chester was to see the Knife Angel. Sculptor Alfie Bradley created the Knife Angel along with the British Ironwork Centre in Shropshire. It was created and exhibited to raise awareness of knife crime in the UK. It is also a memorial to those young lives and it gives us a chance to reflect on the grief that knife crime causes families and communities. Over 100,000 bladed instruments (flick knives, pen knives, machetes, samurai swords, kitchen knives) were collected in amnesties by all 43 UK police forces and they all had to be sterilised and blunted before work could begin. That’s the information from the brochure. On a personal level, I found it a very emotional experience and I was overwhelmed by the size of the sculpture and the vast number of weapons used. The exaggerated face of the angel is studying his equally exaggerated hands as if to try and comprehend why they would want to pick up a knife and inflict damage on another human being. Well done to Alfie Bradley!


     Knife Angel

View 1

      View 2

View 3
And finally, I have some new furniture for the bedroom; just another place to display quilts as far as I am concerned!!

New furniture



Sunday, 17 November 2019

BLOG 470

Blog 470
And now for something different as the saying goes! I have been invited to make a small wall hanging to go in the United Reform Church in Upton. It is a ‘thank you’ to the church community for allowing Chester Ps&Qs to hold their exhibition there last year. It is a bit late in being done but, after a prompt from the vicar to the committee, I was asked if I would be willing to make it. I like a challenge so I heartily agreed. Now that my creative project of painterly pansies is underway, I felt I could now concentrate totally on it. I took a couple of days to create the design and drew it with a reverse applique method in mind. In that method the design is constructed of holes that would be cut out and filled with colour. So far so good!

I started to audition fabric too, although none of these were used in the end.

             Auditioning fabric

I traced the design onto a fusible layer and ironed it onto the WS of a black fabric. I used a small rotary cutter to cut cleanly along the straight lines before using scissors to cut into the corners. And then disaster struck! I cut across one of the radiating lines and the piece was ruined. Grrrrr! Without any delay, I changed the method from reverse applique to the traditional stained glass method with bias binding.
Here is the sequence showing the progress so far using the revised method, where the design is drawn onto the WS of a foundation fabric and the colours are added in sequence to the RS. I wanted it bright and colourful for impact and also so I would enjoy working on it! Colour makes me happy. Here’s the sequence.

            Progress 1

          Progress 2

          Progress 3

            Progress 4

            Progress 5

             Progress 6

            Progress 7

          Completed colour
The colouring-in of the shapes with fabric is complete now. What I have to do next is apply and stitch the bias binding tape in place to make this look like a stained glass window.  I think the success of this project is down to the colour choices and these are the sorts of fabrics I have in my stash to enable me to do this. I am happy with the project so far!

           Fabric palette



Sunday, 10 November 2019

BLOG 469

Blog 469
My thanks to those who sent emails to say which poppy they preferred; it’s always good to receive feed-back on these occasions. As it happened (and perhaps fortunately for me!) everyone said they preferred the pansies made out of strips and that is the method I have chosen to proceed with! This will be an on-going winter project, fitted in between other items I have to make. Now that the decision is definitely made, I can pursue this at my leisure and post pictures when there is something different to see and progress has been made.

             Painterly pansies

And in the spirit of ‘waste-not, want-not’, I cut up the fabric created with circles and created smaller pansies for a cushion front. I chose to appliqué them on a slap-in-the-face fabric for impact and I was delighted with the effect. Decorative free-motion stitching was added to hold down the small pieces of fabric and to complete the over-all effect. This will be one of four I have made for someone who ordered some ‘art’ cushions from me.

                Recycled pansies

             With stitch

Now that the pansies are underway, I decided to assess the progress I had made on the foundation pieced scrap quilt, yet another project in progress! It’s all very well slamming fabric under your sewing machine, but it helps to know where you are going with it. This visual feed-back helps to keep you going and gives you some idea of how far you have still to go! And just to remind you, I am sewing random width strips onto a foundation paper. No preparation is needed; all you need is one straight edge which helps to straighten the previous seam allowance as you sew. Once the excess fabric is trimmed away from around the outside edge of the paper, the paper (perforated by using a small stitch) pulls easily away.
               Foundation piecing
As my strips got smaller, I cut the papers in half vertically so I could carry on using them! This gives me more scope with the lay-out too.

             Review on design wall

I thought I had come to the end of my scraps and so I tidied up the remaining ones in bags, the short ones seen on the left and the longer ones on the right. I really thought I had finished and certainly didn’t want to cut any more fabric because that would have defeated the object of using scraps.
             Left overs

And then, when I was searching for other fabric, I found my ‘dump’ drawer! This is where I dump fabric after any project and forget about it until I have time to sort it out. I had obviously forgotten about it almost forever! So there is more fabric to use up although a lot of it is on the light side and I try to stick to mediums and darks. This is another on-going on-going on-going project!

            Dump drawer

And finally, I am delighted to show a picture of Marion Hughes’s box which was shared with me by a mutual friend. Marion, who is in her mid-eighties, made the box from scratch as part of her City and Guilds course. It is really lovely, and the applique on the top and sides is splendid. Well done Marion!

            Marion’s box