Sunday, 1 May 2016

BLOG 298

BLOG 298

In the end I decided that I should attach a square of backing fabric and I sewed 3 lines that went across the strips to hold the backing in place. I numbered them with water erasable marker which will just need a little dab with a damp cloth to remove.

              Backed and numbered


The backing squares are all the floral prints I have left in my stash. I think that a lot of these would be regarded as old fashioned nowadays; I certainly have had them for an age!

           Backing Squares

The first squares I cut were slightly larger than the blocks and they required trimming after sewing, which was a bit of a pain! So I now cut them to the same size as the block to speed things up.

              Cut to size

These are the fabrics I am going to use for the joining strips front and back … perhaps ….! I will make progress for the next time I blog; I desperately want to get this finished for Gresford in June.

              Joining strips

               Auditioning fabric

And talking about next time, on Monday I am going to Ibiza for a week of early sun (fingers crossed!) My sister and husband will be in residence giving us peace of mind that the house is safe and the cats happy. So don’t be hanging about waiting for me to post my blog next Sunday, go and smell the flowers instead.

PS I have sometimes referred to the fact that we live quite remotely in the country, surrounded by fields and fresh air. Can you pick out the cat (Pussy Willow) on the window sill in the sunroom? She was giving herself a good and thorough groom in the sunshine. Little did she know that she had an audience!  And little did the audience know that they had an audience too!



Sunday, 24 April 2016

BLOG 297

BLOG 297
Congratulations to those who noticed that I had skipped from Blog 295 to 396! And many thanks to Chris for letting me know! Perhaps I was celebrating my birthday a bit early in the day. And so it’s a week later now and I feel not the slightest bit different so I will stick by the old adage that you are as young as you feel. Although my body tells me differently if I choose to believe it, I feel positively juvenile in my head and that is how it will remain. Working with bright colours suits my present temperament so I have continued with the scrap quilt this week, snatching a half hour here and there to add more squares to the pile.

               Scrap quilt

And this really is a scrap quilt. I got to the stage this week when I had no pieces of wadding large enough to cut 7” squares so I got out my bag of bits.

                 Wadding scraps

I started to sew smaller strips together to make larger strips using a walking foot and a wide zigzag. I had to make sure that the edges to be sewn were straight so that I could butt them together without over-lapping which would cause a ridge.


After a bit of self-satisfying effort, I had emptied a bag of wadding scraps and made them into usable squares. Smug or what!

              Wadding squares

Another sense of achievement has been gained by being determined to empty all those maddeningly small lengths of threads from the bobbins. I have 4 of these storage rings so you can imagine the quantity of bobbins I have in use at any one time!


After a few sessions I have liberated lots of bobbins. When I have had a clear-out of threads in the past, I have used the bobbins on the top of the machine as well as in the shuttle. This was a step too far as I was forever running out of thread from one place or the other. Using a full reel on top and only having to change the bobbin in the shuttle periodically is a better way of working. It always surprises me how far bits of left-over thread will sew.

               Liberated bobbins

And here is a potential layout of the blocks so far. Seeing it through a camera lens I am aware straight away that there is a strong line along the lower edge where light squares goes into medium rather than into medium light squares. A lot of refining is needed before joining it up. Onwards and upwards!

              Potential layout
Aside: I am mad that I didn’t think to add a square of backing fabric behind each square of wadding when I was sewing the strips on. Then all I would need to do is join the squares together with strips. Now I have to think of an easy way to get round this.






Sunday, 17 April 2016

BLOG 296

BLOG 296
Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me …… It is a gorgeous day today; the sun is streaming in the windows (reminding me to clean them!), the garden is burgeoning (requiring constant attention) and all’s well with my world. I have even seen a swallow fly past the window just now which is solid confirmation that spring has well and truly sprung! What more could a girl ask?!

 This week, I decided to work on my ‘zippy purses’ for the Quilters’ Guild Tombola stall which will be at the Festival of Quilts in August. Now I have a confession: I rarely put in zips because I don’t know how to and if I can avoid using them, I will. Thankfully though, on the Guild website there are several sets of instructions for different sizes/shapes of purses. I chose one of these and made a prototype by doggedly following the instructions step by step. I was rather proud of the finished sample and realised that I could put in a zip (I now know what that peculiar foot is in my sewing machine box!)


With renewed confidence, I started to consider making others as in ‘mass production’, but then it occurred to me, that there are lots of people doing just that already judging from the website. So I  decided that I would make some which were a little bit more special and what better fabric to use than the one I have been embellishing with thread for the last few weeks (a la Carol Ann Waugh). I have completed 2 long pieces which could make 4 bags.

               Detail 1

            Detail 2

              Detail 3

                 Detail 4

                  Detail 5

The prepared fabric has made the bags very ornate and special in my opinion. I even thought they were worthy of my signature on this occasion! These have been sent via the QG AGM to the reps of the Region running the Tombola. Job done!

               4 zippy purses

 Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me ……..





Sunday, 10 April 2016

BLOG 295

BLOG 295

I had a rethink on the half-square triangle quilt and decided that the best and quickest solution for me was to add a 1” strip between the rows (finished ½”). This meant that I didn’t have the bulk of the 2 sets of triangular points to struggle with under the needle. (Aside: If this had been a competition quilt I would have persevered with trying to attain perfection with my seams but as it is a Linus Quilt, ease and speed are of the essence.)  

Question: What do you do with a bag of scraps?


Answer: You spend hours sorting them out, ironing them straight, cutting them into 1” strips for your project and discarding the left-overs. And then you feel self-righteous for having done just that!

           1” strips

              Joining strip

After I had sewn half the quilt, I was satisfied that the solution was going to work and that the essence of the pattern wasn’t going to be lost with the added line.

                Half completed

So, it was onwards and upwards (or downwards in this instance!) and I sewed until I had joined all the rows to complete the quilt centre. A couple of the squares must have been re-positioned during construction because I have ended up with 2 identical triangles next to one another. Damn!

             Completed centre

Next, an outer border had to be chosen because I didn’t have enough of the joining strip fabric. I found something similar and finished the quilt top.

               Finished top

This has joined the pile of quilt tops that will need quilting in the near future. I think I may have got the triangles out of my system for the time being so now I want to do something creative. Watch this space.

               A pile of tops

Sunday, 3 April 2016

BLOG 294

BLOG 294
Hand sewing has been added to the panel I was showing last blog. After doing so much on the machine, I spent a relaxing time in Gresford, chatting to chums and sewing by hand. And it was whilst I was struggling to do a French knot there that I learnt how to do one properly! Thanks to Jennifer.

                Detail 1

                Detail 2

 I also started to put together the half-square triangles from the design wall. Easy peasy, thought I! I collected the rows together into piles and labelled the top square. Then I sewed them with my new Husqvarna machine. It was a constant struggle to cross any seam, the machine/foot didn’t like to negotiate the bulk of several layers of fabric and I found myself pulling the fabric through. This in turn caused the joins to distort and slip. And then I had to reverse sew (or unpick) which I hate doing with a passion! Maddening!! I need to rethink the construction of this quilt or use my beloved Bernina!

               Sewing rows

               Labelled rows

             Reverse sewing

PS: I meant to show these pics last blog, after I had spent the day with my machine embroidery chums. What do you do with a pile of sheers, all cut into snippets? You paint a dragon! And what a dragon this will be when it is finished!


                 Painted dragon

And these are thread-painted pansies sewn through plastic bags rather than on a wash-away foundation layer. The plastic is trapped in the flower and gives body and form to the petal. The plastic layer allows the petals to be manipulated, stretched and fluted. (Note to self: give this a try)




Sunday, 27 March 2016

BLOG 293

BLOG 293

I have continued to be enthralled by the Sizix machine (thanks for the loan Jackie!) and here is an update of what the half-square triangles look like on my design wall. The potential quilt is bright and cheerful and it is a pleasure to be working on it. And it is at this stage that I mention again that you can’t beat a camera lens for adding distance to your work and offering an objective view of your work. I thought the pattern was balanced until I saw this picture below. Not so!


 So it was again a case of one Sizix machine and many more fabrics to prepare more squares.

               Ready to sew

 Those extra squares allowed me to balance the centre and add another round. Not quite sure if I will add more fabrics to this or just border it and make it into a lap quilt. I certainly like what I see.

                Balanced centre

Question: what do you do with a lovely strip of dyed fabric? I didn’t dye it myself but bought it and have been waiting for inspiration to hit.

                 Dyed fabric


Answer: What you do is bring up the textiles of Carol Ann Waugh on Google images. They are just lovely and are made with all those varied stitches on your sewing machine that rarely get used. It is an excellent opportunity to do some ‘motorway driving’ on your machine, giving it a good blow-out! I drew wavy and straight lines along the width of the fabric, added a stabilising layer and just started to sew. I used decorative stitches and occasionally couched some yarn. This is a joy to do; just try it!

                First steps


             Bashing on


Sunday, 20 March 2016

BLOG 292

Blog 292
And now for the triangles. Whilst trawling through goodness knows whose blog a while ago, I saw a pile of triangles whch she said that she had cut the previous evening with her Sizix machine. There followed a comprehensive Google search by me to find out what that was! And just to illustrate the hand of fate, I was at Llangollen a few days later and I saw this machine on the table being used to cut out paper templates for the English paper method of patchworking. I talked about the machine with the owner who invited me to bring over some fabrics to try it out. This I did and was very impressed with the fact that I could cut out 6/8 layers of fabric at once. This encouraged me to delve further. I priced them (not cheap) and priced the cutting forms (expensive outlay for just one form) and continued to mull over whether I would really get the use out of one or not. A week later, I was at Llangollen talking about it again and a family member (we share the same grand children) said she had one and I could borrow it! So this is it.

                                      The machine and form


And a short training course later and I too am cutting our piles of triangles! It couldn’t be easier.

              8 layers


                Cut fabric

               Removing off-cuts

               16 triangles

               More triangles

                String piecing


I fancied working with triangles because I once made a 2-colour quilt which now drapes over a rocking chair in my kitchen. Red was my dark colour and yellow was my light colour. I used as many reds as possible from maroon through scarlet to pinks and the same with the yellow from orange through gold to lemon. It remains a firm favourite. So now that I am armed with the right tools for the job, I feel another quilt … or two … coming on! (You would think that I had discovered gold wouldn’t you? These machine have been around for ages but I have just become aware of their potential. Better late than never is what I say!)

                2-colour quilt

I started to cut bright colours for starters because I couldn’t resist having a go on the machine. I will need to build up a good stock of lights and darks before I start to construct a quilt but, in the meantime, I have started to play with ideas on my design wall.

                  Design wall