Sunday, 24 February 2013

BLOG 137



By way of a change, I have decided to include a project once in a while in my Blog. Here is a quick and simple one to start, suitable for a raffle prize, as a small gift or for your own use. It is not my original idea; I was given one many years ago and have used it ever since.

                                               Needle case


6” x 9” top fabric
6” x 9” lining fabric
6” X 9” medium-weight interfacing
5 ½” x 8 ½” fusible
8” x 7” of felt to coordinate with fabrics

Sewing machine and thread for a straight stitch and a satin stitch.



Iron the fusible onto the WS of the main fabric. Cut out 24 squares at 1 ¼” to make 2 cases.


Iron each square onto the interfacing, making sure that the raw edges are touching


                                          Stick the squares

On your sewing machine, sew a satin stitch over the raw edges, vertical lines first and then along the top and bottom horizontal lines. I used a variegated thread and set my machine at .5 for length and 3.5 for width.


                                  Satin stitch the seams

Trim away the excess interfacing and cut along the central horizontal line to divide the squares into two sections.


                                       Trim and divide
Place the sections RS together onto the lining fabric. Sew around the edge, 1/8” in, leaving a 3” gap to turn through. Make sure you secure the stitches (reverse stitches) at the start and finish so that they won’t become unstable when you turn through. Do a couple of diagonal stitches at each corner to round them off.


                                           Sew the edges

Trim away the excess lining fabric, cutting almost to the stitches on the corners. Turn through the gap so that the fabrics are RS out. Use a blunt instrument to ease out the corners and use an iron sharpen the edges.


                               Trim and turn through

Sew a line of stitches all around the edge, 1/8” in, to settle the edges and seal the gap.
Prepare some felt inserts 2” x 7” (2 per case) to fit into your needle case.


                                 Prepare felt inserts
From the outer side, sew a straight stitch along the side of the central line of satin stitches to hold the felt inserts in place. 


                                        Finished Cases

Sunday, 17 February 2013

BLOG 136

I have been making some more squares for my log cabin sampler quilt in Liberty lawns this week. I am working on a paper foundation for accuracy but it is a slow and painstaking process because of the size of the individual squares. I am doing a 16-patch block at present and the logs are tiny. The patterns, drafted onto graph paper and photocopied, can be seen here alongside a pair of embroidery scissors and standard pin. Small or what!

                                          16-patch block
The quilt blocks will be constructed using the value of the fabrics, that’s the light, medium and dark values irrespective of colour. I have prepared strips of fabrics and sorted them into separate baskets. Some fabrics could over-lap two baskets, depending on what they are placed next to, so I continue to sort out the values as I am selecting the strips for sewing. Remember too that the reverse of the fabrics are as useable as the right side and reversing them has the effect of muting the colours.

                                         Value baskets
Four of the dark blocks have been completed, the width of each log being just less that ¼”.


                                          Dark squares

In the paper foundation method, the fabrics are placed on the unmarked side and all the sewing is done along the lines on the marked side. You need to sew with a smaller than average stitch, one that perforates the paper without ripping it completely as you sew (#1 on my machine.) If it is too long a stitch, the paper is more difficult to remove and the stitches can become distressed when you are removing the paper. I sew two at a time to save on thread and I leap frog one over the other as I go. 


                            Leap frog sequence
Once all the logs are sewn, they look a bit like this. I then iron them thoroughly before I trim away the excess fabric.


                             Medium squares untrimmed


                                            Trimmed square
To trim, I measure ¼” from the line that defines the outer edge (a bit blurred sorry).


                                        ¼” Seam allowance

 When I have completed all the squares for one block, I make sure there is a ¼” seam allowance all round. I then tug on opposite corners of each square to tear the paper and make it easier to remove. Once the squares are sewn together to make the block, all the logs will be the same size. The trimmings are sorted through and any that are large enough are recycled back into the baskets. I reckon it takes me half an hour to make two blocks but, hey, who’s counting! Here are squares illustrating the three values: light, medium and dark.


                                           Squares and scraps

Sunday, 10 February 2013

BLOG 135

I have been staying with my mother in Barrow-in-Furness again for a few days and I am pleased to say that she is recovering well from her pacemaker operation. She has been without oxygen for 4 weeks now as the pacemaker does its work and she has colour in her cheeks again. It was been good to be in a computer-free environment once again, where conversation ruled and relaxed reading was the norm. I am not a slave to the computer but I do idle some of my time away with Spider solitaire and Yatzi and wandering around the quilting links I find on Google.

BUT I am less likely to do that now as I had a fraught experience a few days ago. I was following a link on Mosaic quilts when my computer became slower to respond and eventually it stopped working altogether. Then a page popped up onto the screen reputedly from the Metropolitan Police e-crimes unit. It accused me of down-loading all manner of stuff that I wasn’t licensed for and implied that I was going into pornographic websites and downloading criminal material from them. I was horrified at the implications! But what upset me most was the fact that my picture was shown at the top of the screen, a picture that had just been taken as it corresponded with the clothes I was wearing at the time. Towards the end of the page it said that the computer wouldn’t work until a large sum of money had been paid and I had 72 hours in which to pay it. That’s when I smelled a scam. But it was such a vicious attack that the whole computer seized up and nothing would work. Looking on our Ipad, we discovered that it was indeed a scam, and there was lots of chatter about it.  Enter our computer-whiz neighbour, who thankfully reinstated everything back to normal. So be warned!

Whilst up north, I got my sister to photograph the box I had made for her 70th birthday last December. I have mentioned it in a previous blog but, at the time, I was unable to show it as I know she is a regular visitor to my site (Hi Gwyn!). So here it is:


                                  Gwyneth’s Memorabilia Box

On the lid I have made a picture from fibres using my felting machine. Once the colours have been laid down and blended, I added some machine sewn lines to define the features.


                                              Detail on lid

I have just completed a 4-week ‘Pen and Wash’ course with local painter, Sharon Wagstaff I really enjoyed this course and learned much from it. We started with tonal mark-making using a permanent marker, to learn how to use the pen and to see what sort of effects we could produce.


Then we drew with a permanent pen and added shading using a non-permanent black marker. When water was added to the areas marked with the non-permanent pen, the black amazingly separated into greys, blues and pinks.


           Permanent and non-permanent pens

We then tried a more complex landscape, following Sharon’s step-by-step demonstrations. A non-permanent pen was used again to give shading.
                                More complexity

 And finally, we drew with pen and then added watercolours.


                Pen and watercolour wash

I was thrilled with this short course, with what I learned and what I achieved. Following such courses in the past, I have usually translated what I have learned into fabric and thread. Now I feel as though I have the wherewithal to keep a visual diary of my surroundings and my comings and goings. Sharon did a good job!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

BLOG 134

The Little Ted quilt has been delivered and is in the possession of the new owners as a tummy-time quilt. I do love making such individual gifts for other people and I think quilting gives me all the skills I need to make diverse and interesting gifts. Of course you have to be sure that the recipient is going to be appreciative of the time (and money) spent, otherwise it defeats the object of making it. Many years ago, I remember making an elaborate Christmas stocking for my father-in-law when he was living with us. I wrapped up several small presents and filled the stocking up. Come the day, he cheerily accepted his stocking, unwrapped his individual gifts and then put the stocking straight into the waste paper bin!! I surreptitiously removed it and used it again the following year. I doubt he even realised what he had done, but I certainly did and that was a lesson learned!

I have started to prepare for a residential course that I teach each year at Alston Hall and this week I have been concentrating on Crazy patchwork. This is done with a fusible web and it is a speedy cut-and-stick technique. It reminded me of a reversible wall hanging that I made ages ago. 6 Christmas fabrics were used on one side and the pieces were cut with curved edges.

                                Christmas side

 On the other side I cut straight edges and chose 6 colours that went with my kitchen decor.


                                                  D├ęcor side

The blocks for both these panels were sewn separately with a wide satin stitch to cover the cut edges and then the blocks were joined together with the black strips. Once the individual panels were completed, they were placed back-to-back and bound. There was no batting and therefore no quilting or texturing.  It hung for years in my kitchen and when it was the Christmas, I turned it round for an instant seasonal decoration.

The blocks I am playing with this time round are going to be quilted and I am going to use decorative stitches on my sewing machine to cover the cut edges. I am using more fabrics, Batiks this time, and trying to make a modern version of Crazy patchwork.


                                                 Fused squares

As well as using decorative stitches, I intend to do the occasional free motion detail on some of the blocks. 


                                     Crazy patchwork

I just love the colour palette I have chosen in the purple/blue/red range. This is where I am happiest on the colour wheel and I love the richness. It is so me! With my initial samples, I am going to make smaller projects but I am beginning to wonder at this stage whether I want to make myself a new quilt for our bed? Decisions, decisions!