Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blog 220


 
Another Sunday, another Blog! I have been happily making fruit pies in the kitchen whilst the slow cooker does its stuff with a small lump of beef (isn’t it expensive!!) but, whatever I am doing,  in the back of my mind I am formulating what I am going to say in the Blog today. Although my Sunday has been renamed BLOG-day, it doesn’t always just happen on a Sunday morning, it is a continuous process that stretches throughout my week. I now always have a camera in my room when I am working so that I have a lot of raw material (no pun intended!) that I can draw on. Like anything else that works well, it is a form of discipline and it has become second nature to me now. And I know that there are lots of viewers out there watching what goes on because Google send me a monthly analysis of the numbers. So hello and welcome once again, I do this for you.

The Disappearing 4-patch

So here we go. This is one of those speedy and effective methods which rely on precision cutting. It is excellent as a scrap quilt and great for using up some of your stash. I am doing mine in Batiks and Bali’s. How much do you need? Well estimate how big you want it and start from there; the individual block finishes in the quilt at 11”.

 THE QUILT

                               The quilt
 

THE BLOCK

                                       The block

 
THE METHOD
Cut 2 squares at 6 ½” from a light and a dark fabric and sew them together to make a 4 patch (12 ½”). Iron both seams in the same direction.

                                          4-patch


Place the 4-patch onto the cutting board. Make sure you have a sharp blade in your cutter so that the cutting is clean and precise. Place the 1” line on your ruler along the centre seam.

 
                                    Place the ruler

 
Cut along the edge of the ruler without disturbing the fabrics.

 
                                  Cut along the ruler


 Rotate the cutting board (not the block) 90 degrees and repeat the cut.

 
                                    Rotate and cut

 Repeat this twice more until you have cut all around the centre. You will have 9 separate pieces.

 
                                  4 cuts, 9 pieces

 Pick up and rotate the middle strip on the bottom line and replace it so that the light fabric lies next to the dark, and the dark lies next to the light.

                      Rotate the 2-coloured strip


Repeat this for each narrow 2-coloured strip to produce the required pattern.

 
                                     The layout
 

Treat the pieces as a 9-patch and sew the shapes together to make 3 lines.

 
                                        3 lines

 
Then sew the lines together to make the block.

                                 Completed block


And that’s all there is to it! Here are a couple of suggestions for placement. One has the 4 dark squares together.

                                  Darks together
 

The other continues the theme of placing a dark next to a light and vice versa.

                                     Light to dark


Have a go and let me see what you produce! More from me next week.

 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

BLOG 219


 

This week I have been spending more time on the felted runner that I am making as a wall hanging for the restless room. I am really enjoying the painterly process.

                                                                                             
                                           In progress

 Sometimes I use balls of knitting wool for embellishment. Here are a couple of strands from the ball on the left of the machine.

                                          Knitting wool


Once they are fluffed out the colours are easily blended into the main picture. They make an interesting addition, rather like brush strokes.

                                        Fluffy strands

                                 Needle felted strands


I have now begun to add detail to the foreground in the form of flowers, poppies, daisies and foxgloves. There is some way to go yet.

                                                Poppies

                                             Daisies

                                               Foxgloves
 

In the meantime, I used one of my felted panels to cover a desk diary and now I have sussed out the process, I can see more of these completed in the near future.

                                  Felted cover


I am also showing my village craft group how to make a Xmas wall-hanging. I first did it as a mini workshop for 50+ quilters at an Area Day; they prepared it and then went home to do the machine sewing. My session locally has been strung over several weeks as more people join in each week. Perhaps they will be completed by Xmas!

                   Xmas hanging


There was just one quilting shop in Jackson, and on the wall was the quilt below. I was really taken with it as a way to use up my vast stash of batik fabrics. I will be starting this quilt soon, so watch out for the visual method if you like the look of it. I have since found out that on the internet it is called ‘Disappearing 4-patch’.

                                  Wyoming quilt

Sunday, 12 October 2014

BLOG 218

 

I am so lucky! Now that I am retired, I can just switch on my creativity when I want it and in any way I want. This week I am working on a project which is what I call a ‘means to an end’ project. These are the easiest projects to work on as they generally have a display place waiting for them so there is no effort required to make them. In this instance, I wanted to make a long thin wall hanging to go above the bed in the ‘restless room’. Newly decorated and awaiting the completion of the ‘Lady of the Lake’ Quilt, we continue to work on the room by adding tongue and grove cladding to the wall instead of a bedhead. I wanted the wall hanging to go most of the way along the top of this feature. I chose felting this time, feeling the need to use the mountains of felt that I ordered without knowing just what I was ordering. I was horrified when 3 huge bundles were delivered in light, medium and dark shades and I am now determined to use as much of it as possible. Here is the ‘paint palette’ laid out on the floor beside me.

                                    Paint palette of felt


I started with a foundation strip of light inter-facing and began to needle-felt short strips of fibre with my embellishing machine.

                                        Starting point
 

I placed fibres down first to get a base layer that covered all the interfacing. This took some time to do because of the size of the piece of interfacing, 14” x 48”.

                                          More fibres


Once I had established a good base of solid colour, I was able to use fibres like paint and add wisps of colour, like brush strokes.

                                      Painterly details


Willow Pillow took a great interest in what was going on in her position as quality controller. It could also be something to do with the fact that my daughter’s 2 Labradors are here overnight and she was staying as far away from them as was physically possible.

                                  Quality controller

                                        Detail of ‘painting’

                                       More detail


And before I knew it, I had laid the background for the flowers I intend to place in the foreground. I am pleased with progress and with the ease I was able to achieve so much with so little effort. The machine did all the hard work; all I did was place the colours where I wanted them. I intend to fine-tune the background some more before adding flowers and leaves in the foreground. That will be my focus this coming week.

                                          Background strip

                                              Left detail

                                              Right detail


Here you can see it behind my felting machine. It still measures 14” high by 48” wide. Using interfacing has meant that there is very little shrinkage.

                                    Machine and strip

I am wearing a black armband this week. Not because it is a year since my mother died (where has the time gone?), but because my Bernina 1230 has been declared unfixable. It died during my Richard Box workshop and cannot be revived. It owes me nothing as I have had it for 20+ years and it has been a loyal workhorse all that time. It is like losing a faithful friend and I am sad to know they are not available any more. My Bernina artiste is not a patch on it.

On a lighter note, here is the carrot my husband has just dug up from his vegetable patch for lunch!! One top and 11 bottoms! What’s a girl to do with that eh?

                                  Harvest festival

 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

BLOG 217



We have been having replacement windows installed this week so, as the house was totally disrupted, I had no alternative but to seek refuge in my sewing room. Oh joy!  So I have made good progress on the Lady of the Lake quilt to such an extent that I may be taking it away to be ‘quilted by cheque book’ this coming week. I started by adding a 2 ½” cut border all round, using the same fabric as the inset triangles. Because I had made the edge triangles slightly larger than I needed, I was able to leave a small space beyond the tip of the triangle thus ensuring they were all pointed!

                                       First border


I had a quantity of half square triangles left over from constructing the blocks which I didn’t want to waste but I didn’t particularly want to make any more. So I decided to join them together to make a decorative line for the top edge of the quilt only.

                                      Half square triangles

                                       Row of triangles


                                            Decorative edge

 All I needed to do then was to resolve the other 3 borders with the minimal amount of effort. The way I was thinking at that moment was that the quilt had lots of interest and detail already. Plainer borders would therefore be preferable to frame and support the quilt centre. But I also wanted the colours to seep towards the outer edge. To that end, I cut the neutrals into 2 ½” squares and the blues into 2 ½” x 4 ½” strips. These were added in a random sequence to create the second border. Some adjustment to length was made by using slightly longer strips at the corners for a good fit.

                                          Second border


The final border was a 2 ½” strip along the top edge and a 4 ½” strip along the three remaining borders using the same neutral fabric. Job done! I really like the impact of this quilt and now need to make a valance and put wooden cladding on the wall instead of a bed head.

                                         Completed top

 
As far as the other project (Susan Lenz) is concerned, I managed to sew the free-motion pattern lines over the surface using a black cotton thread. Now it’s time to use the soldering iron and a heat gun. I hope the weather holds for the coming week as this must be done outside.

                                           Pattern samples

                                   Surface detail 1

                                     Surface detail 2

Sunday, 28 September 2014

BLOG 216

 

I have not made any progress on the Lady of the Lake quilt this week, preferring instead to do something completely different and there is a round-about reason for doing this.

 Recently I attended a workshop by Richard Box. I have always admired his work and I had bought his book years ago but I have never tried the techniques described within its pages.

                                      The book

 He came recently to Chester Ps & Qs to give a lecture and followed that up with a workshop the next day. Alongside the pattern, he provided us with a variety pack of small pieces of fabrics which were about 1 ½” - 2” in size, with many different values of pink, red and green. There was also a bundle of threads, and this is where the success of his workshop lay. As students, we would never have come up with such a wonderful variety of fabrics/threads for this workshop if asked to bring them; they included differing fabrics, textures and accents, some with sparkle and glitz! So in a very controlled workshop environment, we watched his precise demonstration and repeated the procedure; we watched again and repeated again and not surprisingly we all achieved the very same picture to a highly artistic level.

                                              In progress

                                            Threads


This of course was just what we wanted to do; that’s why we went on his workshop. We became him, worked like him and came away with a replica of his work. Whether I will go on to use his technique again remains to be seen but it was an eye-opening experience.

So, after that workshop, I was surfing the internet and I came across a workshop by quilt artist Susan Lenz (inboxseries.blogspot.com) and decided to try it with the same attitude that I did the Richard box workshop. It took a while to get the right fabrics and supplies together because they were different from the ones I would naturally have in stock. The fact that I have got as far as I have goes to illustrate the power of good visual images and an informative text. You can learn so much by following someone else’s technique and then you can decide afterwards whether or not it will suit your way of working on future pieces. I enjoy learning new techniques and I have the seed of an idea that I would like to pursue but I am not sure how to go about it. Experiencing different procedures will help me I think and here are the very basic steps of the start of this method.

1 Paint Bondaweb with weak acrylic paint and allow it to dry. Iron it onto synthetic felt.

                                Bondaweb on felt


2 Cut out squares and rectangles of synthetics with Bondaweb already applied to the WS. Stick them onto the felt leaving a ¼” space in between the shapes. Add smaller shapes on top of the larger shapes to add interest.

                                   Synthetics on felt

                                            Detail

 3 Paint a second strip of Bondaweb with weak acrylics and allow it to dry.

                            Painted bondaweb

 4 Tear this Bondaweb into smaller pieces and stick them randomly on top of the rectangles. Use a sheet of baking parchment to protect the iron and press them in place. Cover the whole surface of the textile with the coloured Bondaweb.

                                   Bondaweb on surface

                                    Baking parchment

                                        Covered surface

5 Cut pieces of synthetic sheers into small pieces and stick them randomly on top of the painted Bondaweb so that the surface is completely covered.

                                           Adding sheers

                       Completed sheers

More on this process next time. When I initially read the workshop in its entirety, I have to say that wondered why there were so many phases. I have decided to just work through it and save any comment until after it has been completed.