Sunday, 28 October 2012

BLOG 122

This week I have continued to work on my wall hanging for Chester Ps & Qs and I have to say that it is great to get my teeth into a complex project once more.
All projects must start out with a clear master pattern and I showed my large scale drawing in the last blog. From this master pattern, I have traced the tree trunk onto freezer paper; this is to be cut out as I go along to provide the individual pattern shapes.

ASIDE: Freezer paper is a very versatile and inexpensive medium for producing patterns. Designs can be easily seen through it for tracing and it can be ironed onto fabric and peeled off again without leaving any residue. It can also be used 3 or 4 times before it loses its ability to stick. It is an American product and I have always wondered how the first quilter came to use it on fabric?!


           Freezer paper pattern
I also trace the shapes of the background, on either side of the tree, onto freezer paper. These are ironed onto the RS of the chosen fabric and they are cut out with an added seam allowances.


                          Background pattern and fabric

The freezer paper tree is cut out and ready to be used.


              Freezer paper tree
The pattern is ironed onto the RS of the fabric chosen to define the shapes within the tree and this is cut out to size.


                      Tree fabric
I leave the freezer paper in situ and start to cut out the individual pattern pieces as I need them. I iron the shape onto the ready bonded coloured fabric and cut it out to size. After the backing paper is peeled off, the shape is stuck back into its space with the toe of an iron, and the freezer paper is removed. All the shapes are prepared in this way.


                                      Painting the trunk


Once all the shapes are in place, the remaining freezer paper is peeled off carefully. After reviewing the colours, a good iron secures the shapes.


                                           Messy job


                              Completed trunk

To be continued.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

BLOG 121

This week I have continued to wrestle with my design for the Chester Ps & Qs exhibition next year. What I feel at the moment is that what I conceived when drawing on a small scale hasn’t really translated well to a large scale design.


                                  Design doodle
I decided to make another visit to the Cathedral which is the inspiration behind my particular design, although I could have chosen The Mystery Plays or Chester and its history. The thing at the back of my mind is that until I start committing fabric to the project, I can still change direction. But time is creeping on and there is a need to make progress. Here is the start of the design as a large scale picture. I have just concentrated on the central tree at present but I want to give the feeling on the height and loftiness of the cathedral so I chose to make it longer and thinner.


                           Large scale design
Although not fully drafted, I needed to start playing with colour (my favourite aspect of quilt making) alongside the pattern so I went to try things out on the design wall in my play room. Thinking tree trunk, I pulled out obvious batik fabrics which in normal circumstances would be ideal.


                                            Bark fabrics

Then I unearthed a wonderful atmospheric fabric which I could use effectively for the background and this will now influence the colours I subsequently choose.



 A potential bark fabric now looks out of place against this background so this will be discarded.



Here are other potential fabrics that sit nicely with the background fabric. I suppose that in the back of my mind I am thinking of the impact of the colours of stained glass against the stonework in the cathedral and perhaps I will adopt a stained glass method for construction. Perhaps? I’m still pondering.




                       Another palette
And then I got totally distracted when I dragged out this fabric which I bought a couple of years ago at one of the shows. I can’t remember who dyed it but I certainly salivated when I saw it.


                                   Dyed fabric
When I put it alongside other fabrics on my design wall, it cancelled out anything else and said ‘look at me and forget the rest’. I love the colours but feel I need to design a special quilt around it before I cut into it so back in the drawer it goes. (How many fabric have I said that about I wonder? Sometimes it’s worth remembering that fabrics are bought to be used!)

More next time.


Monday, 15 October 2012

BLOG 120

Humble apologies for posting a late blog this week, I have been away for the weekend. I was invited to show my quilts at the Region Day for the Quilters’ Guild, Region 7. This was held in Thornbury near Bristol and so my husband and I decided to make a long weekend of it. We dined at the family farm in the Forest of Dean on the way down. We visited Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, near Tetbury and saw the fabulous autumn colours. We stayed near Malvern and walked the Malvern Hills in lovely sunshine. We returned home via Ludlow where we dined in the Feathers Hotel, a place we last visited to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary 40 years ago! …. But it’s always good to come back home.

This week, whilst I catch my breath, I want to feature my friend’s home. We have been good friends for many years and I went to visit her last week in her lovely cottage in Blaenau Ffestiniog. She is a quilter and has an artistic eye for interior design as you will see. She has lovingly made most of the decorative fabric details herself and the whole cottage is a delight.

Her cottage

The breath-taking view from her front door

The fireplace

Deep window sill

Decorative details

Quilt display

 Birthday box

Decorative features

Staircase: Apple and Pears

Guest bedroom

 Main bedroom

Quilt detail


 Mini quilt

Rocking chair
Embroidered pictures

New addition: Megan
  So cute!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

BLOG 119

I have been wrestling with design ideas this week, to come up with a possible solution to a group challenge. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Chester Ps & Qs are having an exhibition in Chester Cathedral next year. Here is the advert; jot it down so you don’t forget!

Chester Heritage Quilt Exhibition
30 years of Chester Patchworkers and Quilters
The Chapter House of Chester Cathedral
Tuesday 26th February 2013
11.30am – 3.30pm
Wednesday 27th February to Saturday 2nd March 2013
10am – 3.30pm
£3 entry and accompanied children free
All proceeds to Cathedral
I have already been for a 2-hour visit to the cathedral and I have taken photographs and made sketches. I went with a clear and open mind, to look at what was available for inspiration and to record in some way what I saw. I started by drawing, badly I have to say, but whilst I was drawing, I was actually looking and absorbing detail. My sketches are very basic but, because I have done them, I know for certain that my eye followed the shape I was trying to record. Nowadays we are blest with cameras which record and store, but I believe they prevent a person from looking properly. You only have to see a group of tourists get off a bus at any beauty spot, cameras come out, hands go up in front of the face and they see what they are looking at through a 2” x 3” screen. Then it’s snap, snap, snap and back on the bus again. In my opinion, that’s recording not looking.

Here are my basic sketches:


                   Basic sketches

 I came back home with my head buzzing with all manner of inspiration but no nearer knowing what I was going to do. So, I started by reviewing the sketches and pictures, and made a flow chart with Cathedral in the centre and words radiating from it.



                                Flow chart
Because of the rigidity and loftiness of the structure of the cathedral, I started to think in terms of being enclosed and uplifted. I played around with the idea of a box first; perhaps an open box built somehow from the materials I had seen there but with colour/energy flowing from it.


Then I had the bright idea of a tree, rooted in centuries of faith and flourishing and growing upwards. The tree would reach towards the light which is a traditional religious concept. And so the doodling with a pencil started, on my lap, in front of the TV, almost subconsciously.

I got distracted at one stage when I remembered that I had a huge, already quilted watercolour picture, made years ago, and I wondered if I could adapt this to meet the challenge; it would save a lot of time after all! There was a pathway, leading towards a sunset on the horizon so more religious analogies there. All it needed was an open gate and Bob’s your uncle!! I looked at it and acknowledged its potential but decided not to use it for this particular project.


                             A diversion?
So back to the trees to see what developed. The trees gradually became more stylised and I started to see potential in the final design. There is still a lot to do mentally before I make a start and draft the scaled up, working pattern.


                                     More trees

                         Final design idea

Monday, 1 October 2012

BLOG 118

This week has been a busy week for me, with the deadline for a magazine looming. So, much of my time has been spent getting that together.
We have also been looking after my daughter’s two chocolate Labradors which are boisterous and busy and quite a handful. At first, the weather was superb for the start of autumn, with butterflies and bees covering the flowers.

                              Autumnal garden


                                   Alive with insects
We enjoyed some good walks with them ….. And then it started to RAIN and it didn’t stop for 4 days! My husband looked a picture of abject misery as he strode round our paddock in wet weather gear, under an umbrella, followed by 2 dogs that were equally hacked off.

The cats have to relocate to the top end of the cottage whilst the dogs are here, so they are deprived of the usual company and attention. It was for this reason that I decided to work in the loft room rather than my studio. And the only project on-going there is the log cabin sampler quilt. It has been on hold for a while but this was just the excuse I needed to spend time with the cats and to do a block a night. You may not appreciate it but foundation piecing is a messy job, with dark, medium and light fabrics strewn about everywhere. Then there is the constant trimming of the seams and the removal of the paper backing when the square is complete. I have been making 4-patch, 9-patch and 16-patch blocks which doesn’t sound extraordinary but when I tell you that the finished block is only 6 ½”, perhaps you might be impressed!


                                  Log cabin project

                              Broken dishes 4-patch

                           Birds in the air 4-patch


                    Hour glass 4-patch

                                 Snowball 9-patch

I have been quietly making progress on the rag rug too. It is a good project to take to sewing groups as you don’t have to concentrate and the repetition is mindless. It’s all infill now but I am slightly concerned about the distortion. I can only hope it will go away if I ignore it. All I can say is that I doubt I shall be following this up with a stair carpet!!


                                     Rag rug front


                                    Rag rug back