Sunday, 16 February 2020

BLOG 483

BLOG 483
 My main focus this week was on playing freely with my fused fabric, to see what I could come up with. I have accumulated masses of left overs over the years I have worked in this style and this was going to be a way of getting rid of some of the boxes of bits!!

Firstly I sketched a bear shape onto release paper and started to fill it in with fabric shapes, being aware of the shading from light to dark. Lightness and darkness can be any colour and so this was an exercise in being loose with colour and unrestricted by the traditional ways of portraying and colouring a bear. Armed with my fabric bits and travel iron, I just went for it! I have to say that I enjoyed the freedom of it all and I didn’t stop until it was complete. Progress was quick and spontaneous and it became easier as I became immersed in the project. There was/is no end in mind for the resulting picture; this was just playing with fabric without any preconceived ideas or restrictions, rather like a child would. Here is the working sequence.
            Bear 1

            Bear 2

            Bear 3 Stitched

               Bear 4 Trimmed

Being reasonably happy with the bear, I decided to continue playing this way using a cat shape. My fabrics are always cut with a pinked blade because it allows the jagged edges (and therefore the colours) to merge. This also helped to give a shaggy appearance round the edges of the bear. So my main disappointment with this cat was that I trimmed the shape round the edge with normal scissors. But this is what playing is all about; you learn from your mistakes and you make decisions for pieces of work that follow. I think the black stitching brings the animal to life.

               Cat 1

             Cat 2

              Cat 3 detail

              Cat 4 stitched
A while ago, I made a background cushion square using the same fused scraps. It was a little on the dark side so I made a cluster of bright nasturtiums to go on the corner. This provided interest and a focal point. It was admired by a friend who now has it and is making it into a cushion for herself.

              Nasturtium flowers

            Nasturtium leaves

Here are some pictures of work from the last time I was with my embroidery chums. Peggy was using variegated thread to make fantasy butterflies and Pat was using sheers to build up colour on a stencilled Robin.
               Peggy’s butterflies

             Pat’s robin

             Pat’s palette



Sunday, 9 February 2020

BLOG 482

Blog 482
Whilst many of my projects continue to develop gradually, I made great strides with my pansy wall hanging last week. It was spurred on by my appearance at the Royal Pavilion in Llangollen as part of Quiltfest. (I have included the details of the exhibition at the end of this blog.) I was demonstrating how to play and create with fused fabric, something I have been doing for years so it was an easy option! It was a busy morning and I met lots of old friends and former students there and caught up with their lives and their news. If there is one thing that I miss about not teaching, it is that easy socialising and being with like-minded people. I attend various craft groups so I am not devoid of company, but I have always enjoyed being on my own too and working quietly. I generally work in my playroom in silence especially if I am machine sewing. If I try to listen to the radio, the sound of the machine makes me miss chunks of the dialogue! At other times, I need to think and let my creativity flow and it is then that I find background noise distracting. If I am tidying, the radio is on and if I am doing mundane tasks too. But I value silence and search continually for that still small voice within me.

Below are some progression pictures of the pansy wall hanging from humble sketchings on paper through to the finished creation, ready for machine quilting. It went through several transformations on the design wall as you can see. I am very pleased with it; actually I love it! Now for the machine quilting/texturing.




            Building blocks

             Background and pansy

             More pansies

               Pansy detail 1


             Pansy detail 2

             Progress 1

               Progress 2

               Progress 3

              Progress 4

             Progress 5

            Progress 6

            Progress 7

              Progress 8

               Final lay-out


Sunday, 2 February 2020

BLOG 481

Blog 481
My scrap blocks continue to pile up and there are still a lot of scraps to go!!! I seem to have wire trays and bags full and they are in danger of spilling out over the floor. All these have been accumulated over about 20 years, probably from the time that I started to work only in Batiks and Bali’s. It was then that I first acknowledged that working with colour made me very happy and that was the way I wanted to feel about my work. I occasionally buy patterned fabrics in this range but I have mainly stuck to un-patterned ones, particularly ones that move through several colours.


              More scraps

You would think that I had enough to occupy my time, but when I was sewing this week, I looked at my litter container and I thought to myself,’ how small is small?’ Normally I throw these tiny bits away without a backward glance but I wondered what I could do with them, if anything? I Googled the idea and decided to try one of the many projects on making your own fabric from scraps. Google offers an ever-open door to the best visual way of learning and it is all there at our finger-tips. I am always in awe of this technology! I tried one of the methods which didn’t take long, just a bit of concentrated application. Only after doing this could I decide if it was for me or not.


I decided to make 2 small squares for a trial run. I cut two 5” squares of a backing fabric and two of a soluble medium (Gutterman’s Solvy). I put a backing square with a soluble square and sewed around 3 sides with ¼” seam allowance to create a pocket. (You could just use 2 layers of Solvy to make the pocket but I wanted to use a fabric backing for my trial run.)



I stuffed some of the fabric shavings into each pocket, using the blunt end of a seam ripper to make sure that the shavings went to the corners and were evenly spread out. I sewed along the open edge to stop the shavings from escaping.

               Filled pocket

I then put the pocket under the machine with a free motion foot and sewed through the layers; any stitch design seemed to work. (You could imagine trying to do this without a cover; it would be a nightmare!)


              Free motion 1

              Free motion 2


The sewn squares were then placed in a Pyrex bowl and hot water was poured over them. This melted the soluble away to leave the shavings stitched to the fabric square. I repeated this a couple of times to wash away all the Solvy and then left them to dry.  

              Pyrex bowl

             Hot water

           Dried square 1

              Dried square 2

And there you have it. Do I like the method? Yes, it’s fiddly but not complicated.

Do I like the resulting squares? Not really. It seems to me to be using up these tiny bits of fabric just for the sake of it and perhaps life is just too short?! I think I am happy to let these bits go into the bin, just like I used to do a week ago! QED


Sunday, 26 January 2020

BLOG 480

Blog 480

This week I managed to make what I thought would be another Linus quilt, but I liked it so much that I am now going to make it into a single bed quilt. Each block measures 14 ½” before construction and the blocks will be joined together with a 1 ½” strip. It’s not an original block and it wasn’t quite designed on ‘the back of an envelope’ because I did manage to find a scrap of paper to work out the size of my centre square! My colourful strips measured 11” x 4” (they are half of the original rectangle) so the centre square needed to be cut at 7 ½”.

           Master plan

I placed the first strip for side 1 RS together with the centre square, making one edge of the strip align with one edge of the square. I sewed with a ¼” seam from the aligned edge and stopped 2” from the corner of the black square to attach side 1 (the rest of this strip will be sewn in pace when side 4 has been attached). The seams on the strips were pushing the seam allowance towards the black fabric so I pressed them in that direction.

              Part seam
Side 2 was placed RS together across the aligned edges of the strip and the black square and sewn and pressed.

               Side 2

            Press to the centre

Side 3 was aligned along the third side and sewn.

                Side 3 RS together
                Side 3 press
And finally, I was able to finish sewing the remainder of side 1 to complete the block.  

           Completed block RS

           Completed block WS


 This block was a joy to do and it went together very quickly because I had amassed a pile of striped sides. Before I went any further, I pressed all the blocks and measured them to make sure that they were all the same size. They weren’t so I had to trim them down to the size of the smallest before contemplating sewing them together. You can see from the picture that I am talking of tiny trimmings here (¼” or less).


         9 Blocks and trimmings

 Once trimmed, they went together accurately and smoothly. I reckon another 2 rows of 3 will cover the top of a single bed. And if I add another block on 3 sides of those 15 squares, I will have a dramatic and sizeable quilt.
              9 Blocks together