Sunday, 20 July 2014

BLOG 207

We went to a Christening in Yorkshire yesterday. A lovely little girl has been adopted into the family and, because she is 3, I was finding it difficult to buy the right present. Traditional gifts seem to be geared towards babies so, after much thought, I decided to make a box for her to keep her treasures in. Sometimes I’m sure that people think that homemade stuff is cheap and second rate but the materials and threads alone cost nearly £20 and that’s without the effort and attention to detail that has gone into the making of it. I have already ‘taught’ the memorabilia box as a project in BLOG 100 so refer back to it if you are interested in having a go. It makes a lovely gift, very individual and special.

Be aware that this is just an over-view of the procedure; step-by-step instructions can be located in Blog 100 (May 2012). First, prepare the card.

                            Base 5 shapes

                            Base and lining 10 shapes

                                   Lid 3 shapes

Cut the outer fabric, the lining fabric and batting strips and cover them as per instructions.

                             Covered linings

Sew the box sides around the base and sew up the sides.

                                  Box outside

                                       Box inside

Add the linings on 3 sides and secure with pegs.

                                     Add linings
Prepare and place the hinge and add the fourth lining and leave to dry.

                       Hinge and base complete

Place the lid lining onto the box and fold the hinge onto it and stick it down firmly.
Stick hinge onto top lining.

Make a tassel with embroidery thread and stick it in place centrally on top of the lid lining.

                                Prepare a tassel


Prepare a suitable top and stick it onto the inner lid. Stick them onto the lid lining and apply weight to sick them all together thoroughly. And that’s all there is to it apart from adding personal touches to the inside with labels/gifts/novelties etc. Job done!

                                         Lid top

                             Completed box

                                     Inside label

           Special Christening card

                      Tooth fairy cushion 4”

ASIDE: This week saw the finish of our group quilt for the Festival of Quilts. All I am prepared to say at this stage is that you will be queueing to see it!!



Sunday, 13 July 2014

BLOG 206


Continuing on from last week, this is how I went about designing the gate for the A4 picture made last week. It is to be sold at the Festival of Quilts to raise funds for the Quilters Guilds.

I started with a sheet of A4 paper (department of the bleeding obvious here!) On it, I drew a shape that I rather liked and divided it into balanced structural units. The decorative elements of the gate will be added within this structure. Here is the starting point with some trial lines.

                      Shape and structure

I only intend to draw half the gate as the paper can be folded and the design easily traced. On the second picture, I have added more structure to the bottom of the gate and continued to add lines.

                         More structure

Now that I am happier with the balance of the design, I free-hand draw  ‘S’ shapes and curls to fill in the spaces, making sure that they are attached to each other and the edges of the structural units. This is fun to do but an eraser is essential to the process. I make lots of mistakes and draw some pretty awful lines at times, but I get there in the end. I really like the design at this stage which is really important if I am to go on and spend time sewing it..

             Completed left side

 All I have to do now is to fold the paper down the middle and trace the design onto the right hand side. I use a light box for this.

              Completed gate

As this is a small piece, and it will never be laundered, I am not going to be a purist as I usually am when thinking quilt; 3 layers: top, batting and backing. I trace the design onto a medium-weight Vilene which will remain in place and add an extra layer to the quilt.

                  Tracing on Vilene

I need to add some railings to extend the ironwork beyond the sides of the gate.

                      Gate and railings

I pin the tracing in place on the back of the batting; remember that all the machine texturing has already been added to the garden picture and this can be seen faintly through the Vilene.

                            Pin the tracing

I then sew all the structural lines on the WS in preparation for doing a machine zigzag from the RS.

                       Structural lines WS

I have already chosen a metallic thread to make the gate.

                            Structural lines RS

And then I remember that this particular thread works better on the bobbin; it breaks maddeningly often on the top of the machine. So I could have saved myself the effort of defining the structural lines with a straight stitch and just worked from the back. This is how I worked for the rest of the time.

                       In progress

I did a trial run of trying to define the curly lines with a free-motion straight stitch but discovered straight away that it wasn’t going to show.

                                   Curved lines

I chose a very small zigzag and that worked fine. Here is the completed gate.

                      Finished ‘Unfini-shed

I added a backing fabric and secured it around the edge. It had to be an unfinished piece so that saved me having to bind it. It has been sent off now and is safely in the hands of the organisers of the fund raising event. JOB DONE!! I have just been on the web site to see if it has been featured, and it has and happily it has also been sold. Here’s the link if you want to have a look at other unfinished items:


Sunday, 6 July 2014

BLOG 205


This week I have been making a small quilt, A4 size and unfinished, which has to be recognisable as my work. Many ‘names’ in the quilting world have been invited to donate such pieces to the QG for a fundraising drive at the FOQ. They will all be priced at £25:00 and it is an opportunity for others to own small quilts by well-known quilters in the UK. My starting point was a sample of a garden gate which I had once drawn by machine with variegated thread.

                              Thread gate

I decided to do a darker version of a thread gate but when I soaked it to remove the soluble medium, it all but fell apart because many of the elements were unconnected! I needed to think more about this so I decided to make a background garden first.

                                        Disastrous gate

This garden started with a rough outline on A$ paper.

                            Outline sketch

The various elements of the garden were traced onto the release paper from Bondaweb.


 I found a box of ready-bonded off-cuts from previous projects and this became my palette.


I cut out and placed the tracing of the pathway onto a Teflon strip and ironed over-lapping strips onto it to cover the whole shape, just beyond the traced lines.

                             Overlapping strips

                           Completed pathway

I continued to work shape by shape, placing them in situ as they were completed.

                         Building up the design

                                 More shapes

 I auditioned 2 fabrics for the sky and went with the rosier colours. Next week I will show you how I resolved the gate problem.

                                           Sky 1

                             Sky 2

I have been laundering some of my early utility quilts ready for selling. They looked lovely on the washing line, blowing in the warm breezes of last week. Some have been sold already.

                                    Quilts 1

If anyone wants to buy either of the quilts below, for £30 each and postage, email me for more information!

                                         Quilts 2


Sunday, 29 June 2014

BLOG 204


Normal service has been resumed thankfully but, if I had to admit it, I rather enjoyed my period of non-contact with the outside world. It coincided with the lovely weather so the garden benefitted and our daughter’s boarding dogs got plenty of walks. It made me lift my eyes to look outwards into the big wide world instead of lowering them to focus on a small intense screen of the computer. And I know which I prefer.

This week, the focus is on the Gresford exhibition last week. I sold all of my items in the exhibition itself and all but 2 items on the sales table (an Xmas box and a cushion cover) which I gave away to get rid of them! I feel well cleared out and cash heavy and the process has been extremely cathartic. I have sold 4 utility quilts to date also. I hasten to add that all these items were priced to sell and if I had tried to price them for what they were really worth, I would have been bringing them home again!

The exhibition itself was very successful, with takings up again on last year at £6,714:58. As usual the food was the biggest earner, it has become a pivotal part of the week, with visitors enjoying the generous lunches and home cooked food as part of their exhibition experience. For those who visited and are interested in the results of the BLUE challenge, the beaded necklace won first place, Little Boy Blue was second and then the blue crocheted basket was third.

                                    Quilts 1

                                               Quilts 2

                                        Quilts 3

 Quilts 4

                                       Quilts 5

                               Quilts 6

                    Quilts and Blue challenge

Since the last exhibition, many of our members undertook a yearlong challenge to knit or crochet woolly hats for ‘Innocence Smoothie’ bottles. Apparently, during the winter months the makers of this product put a woolly hat on all their bottles. When they are sold, 25p is donated to Age UK. As a group, our target was 1,000 but we greatly exceeded that and made well over 1100 and counting.

                                 Innocence hats

                                  Detail of hats

It is impossible to show everything but here is a taster.

                 Cross stitch alphabet shawls

             Suffolk puffs Xmas tree

                                  Felted items

                        Bead display

  One of our guest exhibitors this year was hand embroiderer Daphne Ashby and what a wonderful display was put on in her name. Some of her pieces were mind-bogglingly exquisite!

                        Dimensional butterfly

                                 Mirrored box

            Ribbon work with stitchery


                                   Raised robin

There was also a fascinating display of work by student J Franklin. I think many of us thought it was a bit creepy when we first saw her disembodied trio staring at us through the open fretwork of the church screens but further investigation proved fascinating. Her accompanying book and design manual explained that her figures represented a neurological condition and how it affected her and other sufferers. This journey of discovery formed the basis of designs that she has subsequently used for very original jewellery.

                                Ghostly trio

 The first showed swollen nerve endings with the condition taking hold and spreading across the body.

                           Taking hold

 The second illustrated how debilitating this was and how it made her reassess herself as a person.


The third illustrated how much effort it took to do anything, even the smallest tasks took vast amounts of effort.

 No energy

 Nice to be back in ‘chat’ mode. More next week, computer-willing!