Sunday, 25 November 2012

BLOG 125

Back from Malta now and well refreshed after a lovely break from routine. In holidays past, I used to cram my case with hand projects I wanted to work on, in case I got bored. But not these days; I really do have a break and the only thing I take is a camera, sketch book and pencil to record things of interest in words and pictures.

And do I like Malta? Well, the Hilton hotel was fabulous but the weather was mixed, from torrential rain and impressive thunderstorms to bright sunshine. It is a while since we have had a package holiday usually preferring to book things on the internet ourselves. But this deal with Thomsons saw us seamlessly transferred from one place to another. We were met at the airport and then directed towards our personal driver who took us straight to the hotel and we saw or heard nothing more from Thomsons although we knew they were there if we needed help. Although Malta is an island in the Mediterranean, I would say it was more of a cerebral holiday than a beach holiday. This poor little island must have had a wretched and chaotic history because it was the focus of sustained attacks from every nation imaginable so this break was learning all about that history. We wandered around citadels and fortresses, viewed fortifications, war museums and churches in the High Baroque style. A hire car allowed us more freedom to explore farther afield so we feel we have done it justice and doubt that a return visit would be necessary. Here are some decorative images that I could use for inspiration … in another life perhaps!



                                    Inlaid marble


                                Decorative table runners
Now I am chomping at the bit to get sewing again and here’s the latest on the Cathedral wall hanging. I have been working on the base of the hanging and the roots of the tree. I wanted to create a feeling of depth so I redrafted the master pattern and prepared a stone step for the roots to travel along and down. Notice how I have used the dark sections of the stone fabric at the back of the step and the brighter sections at the front to reinforce the depth created by the angle of the stones.



I am pleased with the results so far and now I am auditioning fabrics round the edge for the border, asking myself whether I should take an easy option and just bind what I have created or add another border fabric, or go to town and create a stone archway? It’s getting quite big and I still have to quilt it so that’s another consideration! I have moved the doves to cluster them together more, to leave a breathing space at the top of the arch.


               Potential border


             Full length

I decided in the end that it needed a couple of borders and this is what I came up with before we left to go on holiday. Now comes the detailed stitching … that should be fun!


             Final border
This time of the year it has become traditional that I travel from cold climes to find warmth, a bit like the migration of the wildebeest! I’m referring to my workshop which is part of the garage and try as we may, we can’t settle on an efficient heating system. So the Horne table, sewing machine and threads have been moved into the corner of our bedroom. This is wonderful for me as I can see my day’s toil (toil? …I think not!) as soon as I open my eyes. This move also means that I am more likely to get on with the Cathedral wall hanging.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

BLOG 124

This coming week, I will be going away for a break to Malta. I have never been before so know little about the island apart from what I have gleaned from the internet. It’s the varied reactions of other people that have been interesting: … ‘I won’t say much about it and leave it for you to make up your own mind’ ….. ‘It’s an island that you either love or hate’ … ‘It’s either very green or not very green’ …. ‘Don’t they have fish and chip shops and red buses over there?’ When I post Blog 125 in 2 weeks’ time, I will have the benefit of experience!! Can’t wait!

Cathedral hanging continued
This week I have been working on the lines of colour that rise from the top of the tree. Each shape is traced onto the RS of freezer paper and cut out to size. I have boxes of ready-fused fabrics left over from previous projects so all I have to do is locate the correct shades from dark through medium to light.


                               Freezer paper shape

 I secure the freezer paper shapes under a sheet of baking parchment and use a hot iron to fuse the small scraps of colour on top, so that I get a run of colour. I make sure that the fused shapes overlap slightly so that they stick together. I have to fill in the whole freezer paper shape and make sure there is a good seam allowance at the edges where I start with the darkest shade or where an edge will be overlapped.


                    Fusing small shapes
Once I have created the colour run, I iron the freezer paper cut-out on top of the fabric (always working on baking parchment so it can be peeled off easily) so that I can cut away the excess fabric along the long edges.


                                   Ready for trimming

Each colour line is worked separately and then put back into the design.


                                        Coloured lines

In my mind I suppose I am thinking of the church as a tree, rooted in the fabric of the building. The tree offers protection and allows growth during life and then releases into an afterlife. The dove is a traditional symbol of the spirit so perhaps coloured doves could soar to the top of the hanging as in ‘free-spirited’. Here are some initial doodles for the doves; I particularly like the rising doves.


                                 Dove doodles

I am trialling the doves to see what they look like in situ.


         Good progress
I’ve mentioned before that I always work impulsively and spontaneously but never tidily and here is the proof if you should need it!!


                                      Work surface


                                     Floor surface
We have many visitors to the bird table but these are some of the more unusual ones. And this morning we found that a crow had managed to lift one of the feeders off its hook and transport it somehow to the other end of the paddock. It was then trying to find a way of liberating the nuts. Clever blighters! My sister and brother-in-law will be living in the house whilst we are away; they’ll sort out that crow!! And so to Malta.






Sunday, 4 November 2012

BLOG 123

This week I have been doing more on the Cathedral wall hanging. My next step was to start working on the stylised tree to give a stained glass effect.


For this I needed a tracing of the foliage (RS) on freezer paper, a sheet of baking parchment to work on, fabric, scissors and an iron.


Each individual shape was cut away from the pattern traced onto the freezer paper. I divided the shape so there was a ½” arc for the dark outline and the rest was to be cut from coloured fabric. I ironed the freezer paper onto the RS of the fabric and cut out the shapes. They were cut to size where the edge was to overlap, and given a small seam allowance where the edge was to slide under an adjacent shape. Registration marks helped to realign the edges.


                              Freezer paper shapes

The shapes were re-aligned on the baking parchment and ironed to stick the overlapping edges.


                                     Sticking the edges

As the shapes were prepared, they were re-assembled on backing parchment.


                             Fitting the shapes together


                              Building up the design
This process continued until all of the foliage was completed. It was easy then to peel the design off the parchment and drop it back in its place within the design.


                    Work in progress
Just to make absolutely sure that I was happy with progress, I auditioned another possible background. It was a 3 yard piece of batik and it would have made the construction method far easier for me. I photographed it in situ, to make an assessment, but although I liked the effect, it was not quite right for the hanging…. So back to the hard work! More next week.


              Alternative background?
I went to see the bi-annual quilt show in Frodsham recently and it was excellent as usual! There are some very talented sewers in the group and the exhibition is always full and varied. It just reminded me that in quilt making, there is something for everyone. You can sew large, medium, small or tiny; you can do it for an occasion, to get rid of some fabric or just for fun; you can do patchwork, applique or quilting or any combination; you can work by hand or by machine, over papers, following a pattern or free-style. You can do it for yourself, for friends or for charity. What’s not to like eh?!

Here are some that I photographed with my apologies for not adding each maker’s name; they were unlabelled because they were competing for visitor’s choice! Amazingly, these quilts are all made from the same pattern, but how different they look. It’s all down to fabric choices.




I liked the simple, clean colours of this hexagon quilt.

There was competition standard hand applique on this quilt which unfortunately wasn’t displayed to its best advantage through lack of space.


The setting of this simple log cabin block took it from the ordinary to the extraordinary. All the blocks seem to dance except for the middle block on the left hand side, which was the central block of the quilt. It was set in exactly the same way, but the dark fabric makes it stand out as a frame, rather than blend in like the other blocks.


                           Log cabin
It is so rare to see hand applique and hand quilting nowadays. I applaud this competent quilt and I found out later that it won Visitor’s Choice. Quite rightly so!


                           Rose of Sharon
And finally, here’s a wall hanging that has been finished after one of my gate workshop many, many, many moons ago! It is beautiful and there is far more work on this quilt than I ever did on mine. It gladdened my heart!!


                                           Garden gate