Sunday, 14 December 2014

BLOG 227


It’s that time of the year again when the colours red and green become the focus of attention. As complementary colours, they are just right together and, because I have invested time and effort into red and green quilts, they will be the only colours of my Christmas.

I am still making gifts for those who I know will appreciate them. One of the projects going around at the moment is fabric wreaths made by tying strips onto a metal ring; no skill required! The metal rings are cheaply available from a florist shop and the project is great for using up stashes of Xmas fabric. I have a load of Xmas strips left over from other projects so they require little preparation from me. All you need is a pile of strips 1” x 6”; I just happen to be using mainly red and gold strips with clusters of green and multi-coloured fabric  and a touch of hessian.

                                         Ring and strips

 Here is the wreath in progress, it probably took half an hour to iron and cut fabrics and do the tying this far. It’s quite fiddly and best done when there is something interesting on the telly!


                                        Wreath detail

 This week I was presented with my new Husqvana Opel 67- sewing machine. Here I am with Russell the shop owner and Hayley the rep for Husqvana. The machine is partially hidden by the quilt but it came home with me and that’s all that matters!!


And here it is with work in progress. The first thing I am doing is to make a book of stitches with their reference numbers. With past machines I have done the same and it is an excellent resource which saves me masses of time trying to find a stitch at random. There are 200 stitches listed for this machine and it’s a sad thought really that I will probably only use about half a dozen of them regularly.

                                             Book of stitches

 I can’t tell you how much fun I have had with the soldering iron, burning the patterns and holes on this wall hanging. I was supposed to use a heat gun to melt the felt between the rectangles but it proved impossible, it just wasn’t hot enough. So I burned them away instead with the soldering iron and I sculpted the edge in the same way. I need to do more of this!!

                                    Wall hanging

                                               Detail 1

                                             Detail 2

It will take us a while to put up Christmas but in the meantime here is the dresser. Enjoy the run up to Christmas, it will be soon over!

                                 Dressed dresser



Sunday, 7 December 2014

BLOG 226


Two more felted strips have been completed as book covers for gifts this week. One is large to take a page-a-week diary and the other is smaller to take a notebook.

                                                         Diary cover

                                             Notebook cover

The felted wall hanging has been hung in the restless room and here it is in situ. All I need now to complete the refurb is the new quilt which is being quilted-by-chequebook as I speak! It is much lighter than the quilt on the bed at the moment and I think that the blues will tone well with the wall hanging. I won’t know for definite until I see them together but in my mind’s eye I have a good idea of what to expect.

                                            Wall hanging

More progress has been made his week on the wall hanging I will be submitting for the exhibition in the Llangollen Quiltfest in February next year. All members in Region 13 of the Quilters’ Guild have been invited to submit an entry on the theme ‘.. I like Region 13 because …’ Whilst not an inspiring theme, there is certainly a lot of scope for interpretation. I have made a map of the region as a backdrop in my painterly style.

                               Region 13


And before there are howls of protest, here’s another with the Isle of Man

                   Region 13 complete

 My idea for this challenge is to highlight the diversity of quilting in our region (or any region for that matter) and to do that, I am making lots of different labels to hang around the edges of the map. Here’s one I made earlier using decorative stitchery. I made a template the size of a typical label and sewed a thread picture onto dyed fabric. Here’s the sequence.

                                       Thread picture

                               First edging stitches

                        Completed label


                       Crazy patchwork

                    Machine quilting

I am just hoping now that we will get snowed in so that I have the best of excuses to slope off into my creative world. That said though, I am being presented with my new sewing machine on Wednesday so perhaps snow isn’t a good idea after all!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

BLOG 225


Just for the record, the ‘birthday tweets’ bird was very well received. It made her laugh out loud and I’m sure she will treasure it (you just know who to make special things for, don’t you?). And what have I been up to this week? Getting on with whatever’s at the top of the pile. I am aiming to completed projects that have been hanging about for a while, adopting a ‘new year, clean slate’ type of mentality. Having said this out loud, well in my blog at least, it will focus my mind and motivate me. I always seem to need a challenge of sorts and I’m always more productive working to a deadline!

First to progress was the Susan Lenz piece. I have been waiting for good weather to do the soldering outside but, as that hasn’t happened when I have been free to do it, I decided to do it in my studio anyway. With a mask over my nose (which fogged up my glasses) and a fan blowing across my work (which tended to cool the soldering iron) I battled on and this is what it looks like now. I have had great fun doing this; being creative and imaginative with my sewn patterns initially has given me shapes within shapes to burn. I just hope it all works out in the end!

                                          Soldered hanging

                                                 Detail 1

                                                  Detail 2

                                                             Detail 3

                                                Detail 4

The next stage is to use a heat gun to burn away some of the underlying felt to create a lacy effect between the shapes. I have ordered one now and it should be with me by the middle of the week. Fingers crossed that it does what it is supposed to do.

My next project was a small covered notebook in felt for another of my Gresford friends; poppies again by request. ASIDE: My friend is in London at the moment (Nov 30th), making the journey to see Remembrance poppies at the Tower of London. She didn’t see one poppy! All she saw was a muddy trench with wheel barrows, and volunteers on their hands and knees picking up coins which people had thrown into the display, breaking some of the poppies in the process. Just why do people feel the need do that?)

                                               Felted cover

 Over the weekend I have been trying to finish the felted wall hanging that will hang in the restless room. I chose a busy backing fabric that reflected the colours on the front and I chose to do the turn-through method so that I could sew all the way round the hanging and not have to close part of the seam afterwards. (I have described this method many times in past blogs, so I won’t go into detail again.)

                                      Turn through method

I always do 3 diagonal stitches across the corner and remove the excess fabric to give a good shape. A blunt tool helps with the shape too.

                                      Blunt tool for corners

One of the last things I do is to sign my work and date it. I am thrilled with this piece of work and it was through the process of making a dozen book covers to trial different methods that I came up with a way of working that was comfortable for me. I love it! Next week I will show it in situ and explain how I got it to hang close to the wall.





Sunday, 23 November 2014

BLOG 224

Do you remember from an earlier blog that I said that my Bernina sewing machine of 25 years had died and then I found out later that it wasn’t repairable? It just stopped, with not so much as a cough or splutter, when I was attending a Richard Box workshop. I had to continue the workshop on his even older Bernina.

And do you recall many moons ago that I showed a quilt called ‘Red Equus’ on my blog? It was for the ’In the Red’ challenge organised by Chris Porter. Well, these challenge quilts have been touring the spring and autumn quilt shows run by Grosvenor and apparently, unbeknownst to me, the quilts were accumulating votes for Viewer’s Choice.

YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT!! ‘Red Equus’ won and the prize … wait for it … is a Husqvana Opel 670 sewing machine. In December, I will be presented with this machine. What timing eh, I’m absolutely thrilled!

                                                                          Red Equus

 And now, down to earth again, I am continuing to complete on-going projects. The main priority is the felted wall hanging for the ‘restless room’. This is needle-felted and it started off with background  layers of colour to create a distant panorama.

                                  Background panorama

Detail was added to the foreground to include poppies, daisies and foxgloves.  I am now at the stage where I would like to add machine stitching in order to enhance and define the foreground detail.

                                          Foreground detail




A chum has her birthday today so I wanted to make her smile. So what do you do? You find a stone and felt it. This is a first attempt following an internet tutorial.

                                          Felted stone

Then what do you do with the felted stone? You make a bird to stand on it!

                                           Bird and stone

Here’s a close up of the bird showing layers of fabric and stitches, something I learned with Suzette Smart.

                                            Bird detail

 And here’s the end product, ‘Birthday Tweets’ from on bird to another!

                                                                        Birthday tweets

Sunday, 16 November 2014

BLOG 223


This week, as promised, I am sharing with you an illustrated method of how I make my book covers . My covers just happen to be made of felt but this method can be adapted to  any textile.

Measure the size of the book to be covered from top to bottom vertically and from edge to edge horizontally, with the book shut.

For the size of the prepared textile for the front cover, add 1” to these vertical and horizontal measurements to allow for seam allowances.

For the lining the fabric will have the same vertical measurement as above, but add 13” to the horizontal measurements for seam allowances and flaps.

Make your fabric/felt/embroidery slightly larger and trim off the excess to the calculated cover size.

Choose a fabric to complement the cover and cut it to the calculated lining size.

                                   Complementary fabric

 Find and pin the centres of both the cover and linings along the top and bottom edges.

                                              Pin the centres

With RS together, sew the lining to the cover along the vertical edges only, with a ¼” seam and neutral thread.

                                          Sew vertical edges

Line up the centring pins and re-pin the lining to the cover.

                                             Line up centres

 Working on an ironing board, fold under the excess fabric along one vertical edge to form a flap underneath. Make sure that the flap lies flat and straight and that the top fold is level with the raw edge. Iron to flatten the fabric and sharpen the crease ready for sewing.

                                    Fold under excess

Secure the edges with horizontal pins for easy removal. Repeat for the other edge.

                               Iron and pin

 You are now ready to sew around the edge to attach the cover to the lining.

                                            Ready to sew

Sew a ¼” seam around the outer edge leaving a 4” space on the lower edge for turning through. Remember to sew 3 diagonal stitches across each corner to help with shaping.

                                    Diagonal stitches

 Trim off the excess fabric to within 1/8” of the stitches.

                                     Trim the corners

                                     Space for turning

 Turn it through so that the flaps lie against the lining and not against the cover. Work the corners with a blunt tool to give a good shape. Iron it well to give sharp edges all around.



Turn under the seam allowances of the opening and secure with pins.

                                          Secure with pins

 From the RS, sew a line of stitches all around the cover, about 1/8” in from the edge to complete. This will close the turn-through space.

                                         Edge stitches

                                  Completed cover