Sunday, 26 August 2012

BLOG 113

I have come down to earth again now after our surprise Best in Show win at the Festival of Quilts last weekend. I have been told (I’m not interested enough to look for myself) that there have been several unfavourable comments posted about this on various sites. Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As a group, we enjoyed lots of hilarity portraying ourselves at the Quilter’s Games and submitted it for viewers to enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humour of it all. And crowds of viewers did enjoy it; you only had to stand by the quilt for a while to witness the warm response. If some quilters have taken offence and can’t enjoy it for what it was, this reflects on them and not on us. The Best in Show quilt is selected, from all the individual winners, by a group of independent judges and our quilt, which just happened to coincide with the euphoria that followed the Olympics, captured their imagination. The humour is back in quilting and long may it continue!

Now, onto more important things: what have I been up to this week? Well I have had a total change of direction just for the hell of it. With the money I won last year, I bought an embellishing machine.  This is a bit of a misnomer as it gives the impression that it will do fancy embellishing. It doesn’t. All it consists of is a cluster of barbed needles that go up and down so it is in fact only a needle felting machine. Having done precious little with it so far, I decided to invest in a book and lots of different coloured fibres to have a go at ‘painting’ pictures which I can perhaps frame if they are successful.

The book I purchased is called Art in Felt and Stitch by Moy Mackay, published by Search Press. It was her sense of colour that attracted me in the first place and then, on inspection, I was amazed at the detail she was able to get into her pictures. Here is my ‘painting’ palette made up of wool tops, fleece, animal and silk fibres and Angelina fibres and now I am ready to play!


                                           Colour palette

The author creates her pictures by wet felting and fine-tunes with needle felting. Rather than create cloth in this way, I chose just to needle felt with my machine onto an open-weave background fabric. When learning a new creative process like this, the easiest thing to do is to shadow the author. She offers advice as an expert in the technique, she illustrates the step-by-step method and hopefully has ironed out all the problems that might arise.

Here is my first attempt to create one of her pictures.

                               Rough drawing










                                    Adding colour


                                  Adding shadow


Viewed in a frame



                                 Reverse side

 I need to add more specific detail with a single felting needle and machine embroidery. I have certainly enjoyed the process thus far and even had a go at another two of her pictures.


                                         Play station!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

BLOG 112

What a difference a week makes!

On Thursday and Friday this week, I was at the Festival of Quilts and what a fabulous time I had. I am pleased to report that my Dual Image Jacobean hung beautifully and was well received. It didn’t win any prizes but it looked good in its hanging space and I was very proud of my achievement.

 I was even more proud, nay ecstatic, when I learned that our group quilt won its section again. This year, in a change from normal procedure, they rang round the winners to let them know the evening before the show. So we knew before we set off that we had won the group section. This heightened our anticipation as we travelled down in ones and twos, by car and by train. When we all met up in front of our quilt, you can just imagine the explosion of excitement that 8 happy quilters produced. Also for the first time this year, all the winning quilts were put on the Winners’ Wall, another good move.

And now I am at liberty to tell you what it was all about. Last year when suggesting ideas for a 2012 quilt, we were aware that the Olympic Games would just have finished at the time of the FOQ. So we decided to do the ‘Quilters Games’ calling ourselves the ‘Dumbelles’. We chose an ample and mature Sunbonnet Sue and put her in a glitzy green leotard. (Her name has been synonymous with quilts for almost 100 years and she often makes an appearance on quilts. You either love her or hate her!!) We opted to put our chosen games in a setting that looked like monitors and we gave them a viewing audience.  

Here I am, flatteringly a bit blurred, with the whole quilt. I am pointing to my block which is called ‘TOSSING THE IRON’. The speech bubble says ‘Now I know why they call it a travel iron’. My hairy-legged Sue (each hair individually hand sewn and knotted!), is wearing Marigold gloves and has a warning sign saying ‘Warning Domestic goddess at work’.


 Here’s Liz with her block ‘QUILTERS’ BOLT’. They are lined up with their empty shopping bags at the start of the race, with one much keener than others. The caption reads ‘It’s all fat quarters round here’. Can you see the winner’s podium in the background made up of bronze, silver and gold thimbles?


 Jenny’s block is called ‘SYNCHRONISED SEWING’. Her ladies are sitting on a lovely mini-quilt made of crossed dumbbells and they are saying ‘1 2 3 stitch’, ‘Darn I missed that stitch’ and ‘1 2 3 stitch’. They each hold identical pieces of sewing. Jenny is hiding her bits with the bouquet we were given.


 Barbara has done BALANCE BARS and her caption reads ‘I could have sworn it said Balance Bras on the application form’. You may be able to pick out her exquisitely made bras hanging everywhere.


 Marion chose to do ‘QUILTERS’ TEAM PURSUIT’, with the colour wheel as part of her bicycle. Her caption reads ‘I don’t seem to be moving, my tyres must be covered with Bondaweb’. On her rucksack, stuffed with fabric, is a label reading ‘I stop for quilts’.


 Sue can be seen with Bonnie McCaffrey who was interviewing us as a group. Her block is called ‘QUILT SHOW JUMPING’ and her horse can be seen clearing a jump called Festival of Quilts. She is pointing to what the frightened horse left behind prior to jumping (she spent ages researching it too!)


 Jackie’s block ‘ROTARY RELAY’ shows a quilter on her knees handing over the rotary cutter to the next runner. Her caption is ‘We could be a cut above the rest if it wasn’t for my running stitch’. Notice the banner in the background, full of patchwork blocks.


 And finally, here’s Jennifer with her block ‘TACKING ROUND THE NEEDLES’. Her yacht with ‘storm at sea’ sails is tacking towards the Isle of Wight darning needles in the distance. She needed a number to go on her sails and so put her bra size!!!


 And did you notice on that final block that an extra sign has appeared beside our quilt? We were astounded and delighted to be awarded the BEST IN SHOW.

We have enormous fun, with wall-to-all laughter, when doing our group quilt and I hope you too get a sense of our humour when viewing this quilt.

 PS Bonnie McCaffrey interviews quilters about their quilts or their techniques and posts them as vidcasts. Her site  is well worth a visit and I will let you know when our interview is featured.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

BLOG 111

This week, along with most of the nation, I have continued to enjoy the Olympics. I know lots about many more competitive events than I would have thought possible and I have found the single minded dedication of the competitors fascinating too. This has left little space for quilt making as I discovered today when I had to sit down a write my Blog!

Another project which needs to be advanced is a bonded picture I started ages ago. I have had to demonstrate my method of ‘painting’ a vase at many workshops, so I am left with lots of samples. I started to use these by placing them onto a ledge and filling them with flowers of different types. This was as far as I got. 


                                     In progress

 I have discarded a couple of vases at the moment but started to fill the rest with flowers. I guess there will be many different arrangements before I am satisfied with the look.


                                  More flowers

 I needed to make more daisies to put into the blue vase and here is a reminder of how I make them. I use ready-bonded fabric and cut out the shapes with pinking shears. There is a clamshell-type shape for the centre and free-cut petals. Simple!



 There is still more space on the right hand side of the picture than I am happy with so just watch this space to see how I resolve the problem. I like the way that the flowers make an off-centre triangle shape at the top of the picture. That will stay as it is.


                                   Vases filled

 Next week is the Festival of Quilts at the NEC and I am so excited to be meeting up with the usual group and seeing the reaction to our latest quilt. I doubt it will win prizes but it will certainly entertain which is what we set out to do. I hope those of you who are going will make a point of going to see it. I will be reunited with my Dual Image Jacobean panels too and I look forward to seeing how the judges rated them. Be careful what you say as I might be lurking around there to hear visitor comments. Be gentle with me!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

BLOG 110

This week I have been enjoying the Olympics and rejoicing in our continued success as a nation. On Saturday (4th August) I was emotionally drained during a day of athletics which saw Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford bring home gold medals. I don’t think I can take any more excitement today! I have become a sports geek too, along with the rest of the UK. And I have to say for the record that I do have abs like Jessica Ennis, but I wrap them up in copious rolls of adipose to protect them!

Signature Quilt

I have managed to get my friend’s birthday signature quilt together and want to concentrate on the border now. At this stage it measures 45 ½” square.


                             Signature quilt

 There is room for more signatures and once the border has been attached, I will hand it over to her to collect more from friends and work colleagues who were unable to attend her party.


                            Signatures and spaces

 I want to make simple border from strips of both fabrics but I’m not quite sure yet what I am going to do. So I have cut some of the Batik at 9 ½” x 2” (the size of the star block) and the cream at 3 ½” x 2” (the size of the individual squares) to have a play.



 I joined some of these strips together and auditioned them around the edge of the quilt to see how they looked.


                              Suggested border

 Seeing it on the wall like this, I felt it didn’t look quite right because it took away the delicacy of the points around the outer edge of the blocks. So I then decided that a cream border was needed to give a breathing space between the blocks and the fragmented border. As the cream fabric is 44” wide, I needed to join 2” strips together to give me the required lengths. This is done on the diagonal as shown below.


                                Diagonal seam


                              Remove corners
To prevent wavy borders on a quilt, always measure through the centre of the quilt and cut the borders to this length.


            Measure through the centre

 Seam allowances vary fractionally during sewing, so borders sometimes don’t finish accurately. Fabric also stretches with ironing and the outer edges suffer the most. I am as pleased as punch to report that my 15 x 3” squares have resulted, with seam allowances, at exactly 45 ½”, and here’s the proof (shame in my moment of glory that the pic is not focused!!)



 I add the cream borders to the quilt before sewing. First I secure the corners, then the centre points and then I add several pins in between. These pins are always at right angles to the seam for easy removal. I sew with the seam allowances uppermost so that the border strip is on the machine table. This means that I can double check the direction of the seams. A coloured corner square completes the first border.


                                 Seams on top

 Accurate seams are essential.


                       Accurate seams

 A second border is added using the prepared strips. And that is all I intend to do at this stage.


                                   Two borders