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.




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


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 ( 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


 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.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

BLOG 215


I have settled back into the rhythm of quilt making once again, perhaps energised after my holiday and certainly benefitting from a break from routine. So it’s ‘onwards and upwards’ … or perhaps ‘onwards and seam-wards’ in an effort to get this quilt completed.

Last week I showed the extra fat quarters to be included in the remaining blocks, and I also showed the selected infill fabric for around the edge. I completed the remaining blocks and placed them randomly throughout the quilt.

                         Remaining blocks

On my design wall I reviewed the blocks, making sure that no repeat fabrics were next door to one another.

                         Design wall

Before constructing the blocks into diagonal lines (NW to SE), I needed to work out the size of the infill triangles around the edge. Now I could say that I used Pythagoras’s theorem, citing that ‘in a right-angled triangle, the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides’ but no, I have a clever triangular ruler that tells me the size I need!!

ASIDE: My maths teacher, Mr Denny, would be so proud of me! I couldn’t see the point in geometry and algebra at school, always questioning how it was going to be relevant to my adult life. I tended to be disruptive, just trying to extract as much mirth as possible from the lessons. But that was ‘life before patchwork’ and now I can’t tell you how many times I have use geometry particulalrly to calculate sizes and construct shapes.  

These infill triangles are going to straighten the edges of the quilt and it is very important that the straight grain of the fabric is on the long side of the triangle. A bias edge around the quilt would be disastrous and lead to stretching and distortion. I used an old fabric as a sample and cut a 12 ½” square which I then cut on both diagonals to give me 4 equal triangles with the straight edges on the long sides.

              Sample square

 I auditioned it up against the edge of the block and saw that it fitted accurately but it left no wriggle room.

                           Sample infill triangle

I therefore decided to cut 13” squares for comfort. I straightened the edge of the newly acquired fabric (no I never wash fabrics before I use them!) and cut out 13” squares. I strongly recommend the right tools for the job in hand; it makes life so much easier. I used a 24”ruler to straighten the edge (note how a black vertical line on the ruler lies against the selvedge) and a 16 ½” square ruler to cut the square.

                              Trim the edge

                                 Cut the square

Cut across the diagonals (bias of the fabric) to give 4 triangles with the straight grain going around the outside edge.

                                  4 triangles

Join the quilt blocks together on the diagonal to make lines and add an infill triangle to each end. Make sure the triangle is configured correctly for its position around the edge.

                                  13” triangle

                          Comfortable over-lap

For the corner squares the straight grains need to be at right angles to one another so I cut two 7” squares and divided them across just 1 diagonal.  These were added to the four corners.

                              Corner triangles

And before you know it you have a quilt top! Here it is on the new bed. There is some way to go yet with borders and quilting, but I love the look so far.

                                  First 2 rows

                                        Trying for size

                                          New bed

                                      New quilt almost