Sunday, 23 October 2016

BLOG 320

BLOG 320
As autumn has quietly progressed this week, so has the Corner Log Cabin quilt. I really have my mind well into this project now and I want to see it nearing completion. This is a very special quilt to me as I am using fabrics from a collection that spans some 30 years. Many are left over from my ‘Garden Gate’ series of quilts and you just can’t get fabrics like this anymore. They come from an era when the value (ie the lightness and darkness) of the fabric was used in a popular technique called ’Colourwash’; the busier the fabrics the better the wash. These days, fabrics are sold as collections by the fabric manufacturers.  They are printed in batches from the same range of colours; they have a variety of different sized prints, shades, tints and tones, and they are designed to coordinate. This is great for those setting out on their quilting journey but, in my humble opinion, nothing gives the rich depth of a scrap quilt better than an aging stash!

              Litter bin

 The litter bin tells all and spills the beans about what I have been doing. Each Log Cabin block had to be trimmed to 9 ¼” and I couldn’t do this accurately without a large square ruler; they are brilliant for the job. Once I had squared up one corner, I rotated the block and lined up the ruler with the appropriate marked line. All I needed to do then was to trim the remaining edges. There should be no joining of blocks until they are all the same size.

             Square ruler


I placed them beside the machine ready to join together. Unfortunately, I have quilted as many blocks as I can at this stage as I am waiting for more variegated thread to arrive.

               In Progress

               Design wall

And, if you are a regular visitor to this blog, you will know my theory that wadding is magnetic to cats! Here’s the proof and it’s not even a quilt yet.

                Animal magnetism

I also managed to quilt a Linus quilt this week. The technique is called ‘Vanishing 4-patch and it has been hanging about for some time. By tonight, it will be bound in front of the fire and Poldark (… if I can concentrate!)!

                 Linus quilt


And finally, I was asked by my daughter and granddaughters to help with some mermaids for a village scarecrow competition. When I was asked had I got any fabric suitable for hair? …. my stash came into its own again! They drew the faces, I sewed on the hair and shaped the tails and my daughter did the rest. I will show a picture of the completed tableau next week.








Sunday, 16 October 2016

BLOG 319

BLOG 319

I have had a garden week this week whilst the weather is still fairly good. A couple of years ago I planted a Rose of Sharon (Hypericum) and it has proved itself to be a total thug in the border. So I have waged war on it and attempted to remove it. This was a hard battle and judging from the invasive root system, it’s not over yet! Now at least the shrubs trying to bed down with it will have some space to flourish.  To balance this strenuous digging, I have indulged myself by sitting in front of the sewing machine making good progress on two particular projects.

One of the table runners has now been covered in a layer of colourful sheers and is well on its way to being complete for Xmas. This is such a joy to work on because it satisfies the need in me to work with colour!

             Sheers 1

            Sheers 2

            Sheers 3

Not only have I added the sheers, I have also made a start on the intensive stitchery in black thread. This has to be done during the day when the light is good and in short doses so that I maintain a good level of concentration!

          Thread work 1

            Thread work 2

            Thread work 3

On completing the stitchery, the rest of the detail will be added with the soldering iron. The mark-making will alter the surface and add more decoration. I just love it!

            Stitched runner

Nights are drawing in now so I spend more early evening time in the loft room with my sewing machine. It’s very easy to find something to do especially if it is beside the machine, pinned up and ready to go. This is now the case with the corner log cabin blocks. I decided to quilt along each seamline with a free-motion stitch, using a leaf and stem pattern. It is one of my favourite patterns so it is easy for me to do and makes the process very quick.

             Quilted block

As well as deciding on a quilting design, I needed to make a decision on how to join the blocks together so I pinned some on my design wall to get an impression of what they would look like when they are together.

            Block setting

I tried strips of black fabric in between the blocks to see how they looked and I liked the strong definition that resulted. All the blocks will be quilted before being joined together with these black strips, a quilt-as-you-go method I have used many times before. This is a good autumn project!

               Joining strips


Sunday, 9 October 2016

BLOG 318

BLOG 318 

The Harvest Festival and Quilt exhibition is behind us now. The small church was crammed full of colour from flowers and fabric and we took the quilts down late this afternoon when the exhibition closed. I missed the Saturday of our exhibition because I was at the Quilters’ Guild Regional day at Frodsham. There were 2 very good speakers. The first, Judy Fairless, talked about her journal quilts which were part of the Contemporary quilt group challenge. They were many and varied but for me the sketchbooks that went with them were brilliant! Stewart Hillard was the afternoon speaker. He talked about his quilts and his time on the BBC’s Sewing Bee. He was very eloquent and regaled us with story after story, name-dropping with impunity! He used his ‘campness’ to excellent effect as he kept us entertained for nearly 1 ½. A brilliant day all round!

               Stewart and quilt 1

              Stewart and quilt 2

In my work room I have been working on the final layer of the table runners. Pieces of synthetic voiles and chiffons have been placed along the entire surface, held in place by the layer of a painted fusible.  So the layers that make up the runner are felt, fusible, satins, painted fusible and voiles (a much simplified version of the Susan Lenz method). Now it is time for the decorative stitching with black cotton thread and that is what will take the time.

           Voiles 1

              Voiles 2

                Voiles 3

And here are some images of our exhibition for you to enjoy.

           Harvest altar display

           View down the church

               Modern squares and ancient log cabin

              Flying Geese and Signature quilt

            9-patch and Briar Rose medallion

             Scrap quilt

             Harvest window

            Calendar quilt and Garden Gate

           Cake Stand jewel quilt

A large and important part of this exhibition was the enthusiastic sewing done by the children at the village primary school. The hangings were designed specifically to hang off the ends of the pews. A few of us went into the school, and after a talk about patchwork, we started to work with smaller groups of children. The older children had resource material to look at and they were asked to compose an A4 design in portrait style. They traced or drew what appealed to them before transferring the images onto a fusible and from thence onto batik fabric which they cut out and ironed onto a background. The adults helped with the ironing and the finishing. The pictures were placed onto felt (the remnants of curtain lining removed from a large local school!!) and the children were then allowed and encouraged to do some sewing through the layers. The younger children drew autumn pictures with a patchwork surround using transfer crayons and their designs were ironed onto the calico and finished. The nursery children used stamps to make a small hanging which will hang in school. It was a brilliant effort all round and so much enthusiasm was put into the sewing!

           2 Child quilts

          Child’s quilt detail





Sunday, 2 October 2016

BLOG 317

BLOG 317

Happy October and Harvest Festivals! It’s that time of year again when leaves begin to fall outside and ‘The Ploughman’ wall hanging comes out of storage and onto the wall inside. As the days shorten and darkness lengthens, the ‘Autumn Leaves’ quilt has also made its appearance on the rocking chair. It’s time for log fires and relaxing in front them with ‘sedentary inwardness’. What’s not to like?

               The Ploughman

                Autumn leaves

No let-up for me however as I have started a couple of commissions which I have been asked to do. These table runners are going to measure 10” x 84”, and certainly one of them needs to be ready for Christmas. I have made a start on both, as the fabrics have to be prepared and it is easier to do them side by side rather than put the fabric away and get it out again.  I will get them to the same stage before I start on the concentrated and detailed stitching on one of them, to make sure it is ready in time. Here’s a reminder of the process I am using.

               Bondaweb on felt

              Bondaweb on synthetics

Shapes onto felt

                First layer of shapes

            Shapes on shapes

              Painted Bondaweb

                Painted Bondaweb on shapes


               Voiles and chiffons

This coming week I will be involved in the Nercwys (St Mary’s) village church Harvest Festival with Quilting Exhibition. The church will be open 12:30 to 4:30 on Friday 7th, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th. If you are local to this event come and have a look at the flowers and enjoy the quilts at this one-off event. You won’t be disappointed.

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