Sunday, 19 April 2015

BLOG 244

BLOG 244


I am hung! We went to Holyhead to the Ucheldre centre on Tuesday with a car full of quilts and hangings, and 4 hours later, my exhibition was hung. I then walked the length of the breakwater to the light house at the end to say hello to my Mam (some of her ashes had been scattered there). We visited cousins where we had a lovely meal before returning to the centre to do the opening address for the resident quilting group who also have an exhibition of their work. Thankfully, it was a lovely day all round because, as you may know, it has been the focus of my endeavours for the last month or so. For my evening address, I decided to do an alphabet of quilts, trying to find a quilt or hanging to represent each letter. The difficult ones were X, Y and Z! For X, I showed an extraordinary quilt, the one I would save if the house was on fire! For Y (and I have no affection at all for yoyos!) I used the word yardage and mentioned the no-fail formula for buying fabric: work out how much you want, double it and add a yard. For Z, I said they could finish their zeds as it was all over! Here are some of my quilts on display.

                                                   A String of Diamonds

                                               Lady of the Lake

                                 Delectable Mountain

                                                             Group quilt 1

                                                            Group Quilt 2

                                                            Group quilt 3

                                            Group quilt 4

                                 Gentiana Alpina  and Floral display

                      Tree of Life

                                             Positive and Negative Jacobean

                                                              Red Equus





                                           Mosaic still life

                                           Hollyhocks and Poppies

                                                            Sunflower and Iris

                                   Foxglove and Sunflowers in blue vase

                                                        Burning Issues


Sunday, 12 April 2015

BLOG 243

BLOG 243

This was the week of the final push to finish work for my Holyhead exhibition. It has been a continuous slog of application, concentration and hard work. I acknowledge that it was self-inflicted because that’s just the way I am, but I don’t want to go through that again in a hurry! And why did I do it? I suppose the reason was that I didn’t want to let myself down by not having any new work on show and I didn’t want to let others down by exhibiting all of the same work over again. If I had to choose an epitaph for myself it would read ‘she was always anxious to please’!

Here is the Turtle-in-a-Wall hanging under the sewing machine. Again, as in the two previous wall hangings, I decided to blend the colours of the turtle fabric.

                                               Turtle at work


I chose a Mettler variegated thread because it reflected the colours in the fabric and it sewed beautifully.

                                                   Variegated thread

 For the individual wall tiles, I matched threads with the colours in the fabric.

                                                    Matching threads

 Here is the completed turtle, illustrating what I wanted to achieve when I started. This one has come through a few transitions fabric-wise to get to this pleasing outcome, perhaps the next one will be plain sailing. I’ll believe that when I see it! And did I say the next one? Watch this space ……… eventually!

                                                       Quilted turtle


 It is easier to see the quilting detail from the back before tidying up. As usual I have done all the quilting straight onto the batting.

                                                 Quilting on batting

 This is the WS of the backing fabric, already sewn onto the quilted front. It was placed with RS together against the front of the quilt and I have sewn a ¼” seam all around the outside edge. I have trimmed away the excess fabric and cut across the corners prior to turning through. Notice the cut strip of fusible close to the top edge; the quilt will be turned through this opening.

                                              Before turning through

 And what have I learned? I have learned that I can still work under pressure when need be and produce a good standard of work for others to enjoy. I can still come up with original ideas and interpret them to my own (and others people’s hopefully) satisfaction.

                                                  Three in-the-wall quilts

 Here are some of the sale items I have been making.  ‘Rainbow Gardens’ seems to be a good title for these creations.

                                                       Rainbow gardens


                                                          Framed Gardens

 And there are 4 of these soldered felt pieces which I intend to call ‘Burning Issues’. These I have mounted on card.

                                                           Burning Issue #1

 Other sale items are ironed and packed ready to go but I will post photographs when I am ‘hung’! Not before time says my husband although a little drawing and quartering wouldn’t go amiss as well!!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

BLOG 242

BLOG 242 Sunday April 5th

 Happy Easter! Another holiday weekend is upon us and, luckily, some lovely weather has arrived with it too. This leaves me with a bit if a quandary … garden or craft room? … craft room or garden? The craft room wins hands down because of course I have an exhibition looming and unfinished items that need finishing. And, to use my favourite expression, I felt another quilt coming on …!!! This time I decided to work on a turtle. These were often seen during our time when we worked on remote islands in the South Pacific 40 odd years ago. We even brought back a turtle shell as a souvenir and it hangs on our bathroom door as a constant reminder of those wonderful days. I must add here that the local people used to habitually catch turtles for food and the shells were often sold to the expatriates. This artefact proved invaluable when drawing the Master pattern.

                                             Turtle shell

I sketched some shapes initially referring to Google images for inspiration.


 Then I drafted one of them to size as the Master pattern. This time I chose to include regular wavy bricks for the wall.

                                                           Master pattern

 I chose 2 fabrics that I thought might work together.

                                                        Chosen fabrics

 I made a template for the wall which made it easier to prepare the fusible shapes for the bricks.

                                             Template for bricks

I was able to bash on with the bricks and soon they were all completed and pinned onto a working copy of the pattern. Then I started to make progress on the shell of the turtle and I realised straight away that I didn’t like the fabric that I had chosen.


Back to the stash for another root about and, as luck would have it, I found an ideal fabric; one that looked like it was fragmented already, like a mosaic.

                                                             Ideal fabric

I used larger pieces for the shell and continued to fragment it wherever else I used it. I felt as though I was making good progress.


                                                        More progress

 Whilst I was working on this, I had my granddaughter here for a sleep-over and she has been dying to get into my craft room for ages. From the windows she could see colours, and fabrics and threads and a multitude of things to fiddle with! After much pleading I took her in there and set her off on a project using my leftover ready-fused bits of fabric. I put a small piece of batting onto a sponge block, gave her some pins and told her to cover the batting, making sure that the fusible layer went against the batting. When she ran out of pins, I ironed the fabric pieces to stick them to the batting and to release the pins again. This is what she did in half hour. I am so proud of her and thrilled that she is interested in being creative.

                                                                  Ella’s art

 Back to the turtle and you will notice a great difference between what I had on my design wall one day and what I changed it to the next day. Going back to my original concept for these hangings, in my mind’s eye I envisaged the animal/creature coming out of the wall subtly and I certainly hadn’t achieved that with this hanging. I liked the shell and fragmented flippers, but little else. The face and neck were too light and the bricks were a contrast rather than a gentle transition.

                                                    Revised version

 Here you can see how differently the hanging looks now before fusing and I like it much better. One more thing to be done before it goes onto batting for quilting, those two irritating and almost white shapes just above the turtles head! They look like 2 sticky-up ears!! You probably wouldn’t have noticed them  but once you have seen them, they leap out every time you look at the quilt!

                                          Irritating light shapes

                                                        Final image

Only the quilting and finishing is left and I hope to do those this coming week, fingers crossed!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

BLOG 241

BLOG 241 Sunday March 29th

This week, I have continued to work on the colourful wall hangings, ‘Horse-in-a-wall’ and ‘Dolphin-in-a-wall’. The dolphins went together much quicker because I had established my working format with the horse quilt. The next one I make (ever optimistic!) will be super-efficient because I now know what I am doing, where I am going with it and what I am trying to achieve; it helps enormously! Here are the dolphins shapes on the master pattern.

                                        Dolphins on master pattern

Here are the dolphins within the completed pebble wall. The image on this quilt is a subtler.

                                                               Pebble wall

 I tried to design a decorative topping for the wall, to resemble waves but decided I didn’t like it. In the end I opted for thin, horizontal pebbles like the ones you often see on walls surrounding some seaside properties.

                                                  Decorative topping

 As I was pinning the completed quilt top onto the batting, I certainly didn’t know at that stage how I was going to proceed but I was thinking hard (that’s where the work is done). My first job after pinning was to sew round the outside edge with a long straight stitch to stabilise the 2 layers.  (I prefer to quilt straight onto the batting so I don’t have to worry about what the back of the quilt looks like, and, these days, I mainly choose to do a turn-through method of adding the quilt back after quilting.)

Generally, the quilting process serves two purposes: to hold the quilt layers together and to be decorative. With my method of working with fused fabrics, the quilting stitches also need to secure my pieces to the background as there are no applique stitches around the edges of the shapes. With all this in mind, I decided that I wanted the colours of the dolphin fabric to be blended with stitch but I wanted to stones to stand on their own with clean cut edges. I started to sew wavy quilting lines over the surface of the dolphins, using threads that reflected the colours of the fabrics, changing the colours often.

                                                      Wavy quilting lines

                                                             Detail 1

                                                                       Detail 2

As I was sewing these repetitive lines, I was thinking long and hard about the stones. And then I had the bright (crazy!) idea that I would quilt each stone separately with a different decorative pattern. I didn’t want the quilting to stand out which meant matching thread with fabric, but I wanted it to be interesting for viewers who came to examine the quilt closely. I also wanted it to be interesting for me to sew!!!

                                                       Quilted stones

The extent of the quilting is best seen on the batting, from the back on the quilt. Here it is before tidying up (and yes I did repeat some quilting patterns!).

                                                        Extensive quilting


 Here it is completed and I am satisfied that I have achieved what I have set out to do. All that I needed to do was to ‘switch on’ the dolphins by sewing the eyes.

                                                           Switching on

                                                 The eyes