Sunday, 31 March 2013

BLOG 142

A short amount of time has passed since my late blog last week but you’ll be pleased to hear that the time has been filled productively. I came back from Alston with lots of teaching samples again, some of which I have given myself permission to discard, but there are others which I deem worth finishing.

One such sample was of crazy patchwork in blues, reds and purples, my most favourite part of the colour wheel. You may even recall that I said a couple of blogs ago that ‘I felt a quilt coming on’ because of this colour palette. Well, common sense has prevailed! In the past I would have launched into such a quilt without a second thought and toiled for hours and hours making it, only to wonder if it was really suitable for its purpose. Would these colours really have been right for a calming quilt? Would they fit into the character of our cottagey home? We live in a converted stone built barn and dairy with vaulted and timbered ceilings. Crazy patchwork as a technique would find a place here but in purples? … I think not. I believe I would have tired of the colours very quickly.

                                       The sample


                                    Sample and border
So I decided to make my sample into a cover for my desk diary. Each year I buy one to jot things down beside the computer and a removable cover would make it more attractive. I will come back to this as a teaching project in a future blog so keep calling by.


                                 Completed book cover
Another project that I am keen to finish for my own use is a tissue box. Here is the progression in the development of the lid top. I will also demonstrate the tissue box as a project in a future blog.


                                 Outline patterns and voile


                                      Detailed stitching


                                          Infill stitching

                                               In progress

                                       Completed top


               Embroidered top and box fabric

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

BLOG 141

Sorry about the late posting of my blog this week. I have been away teaching at Alston Hall for the WE and then I went further north to visit my mother for a couple of days. I have been away from the computer for 5 days and, I must say, it has been rather a relaxing experience. I am aware that some of my regular readers tune in each Sunday expecting to see what I have posted, so hopefully better late than never. (ASIDE: My mother continues to do well after her bout in hospital with a severe chest infection and she has weaned herself off the oxygen again. I hope I have inherited her grit and determination!)

It is always a pleasure to be at Alston Hall where I meet my experienced regulars who take what I throw at them, have a go and then develop the ideas. This year I chose to teach technique under the broad umbrella of Fused Piecing, to include traditional and on-point patchwork and tonal strips, square within a square and crazy patchwork. Here are my teaching samples.


                        Teaching samples
And here, as a feast in pictures, are the results. Enjoy!













Quilting is all about sharing and these were the other treasures that turned up at the WE.










Four weren’t able to attend the course because of adverse weather conditions and they were sorely missed. I hope they are able to join us next year, when as well as Jacobean positive and negative, I will be doing some free-form fabric pictures as shown below. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Blog 140

I have had a lovely time at Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest. Despite biting winds and plummeting temperatures, we spent quality time with our daughter, husband and young family and there is nothing quite like that. Everyone relaxes together and just plays. Many families had grandparents in tow; in fact anyone without grandparents appeared deprived!

It’s back to the sewing machine now. I have been preparing samples for a residential WE at Alston Hall where I am the invited tutor. I always try to use whatever technique I am teaching as an excuse to make something that I need as a gift or I can use myself. For the first sample for fused piecing, I made a quilt for the newest arrival in the extended family, Hugo Osmotherley.

The quilt started with a central pattern of an appliqu├ęd teddy bear, Hugo Bear.


                                    Hugo bear

This image was repeated four times in stitch. I chose a stitch that was easily adjusted to follow the curves of the pattern, and which made the bear look fluffy. I used a variegated thread to match the chosen fabric. I added detail with a free motion stitch.


                            Thread bear

I made four patchwork blocks to look like this, but, because I wanted to control the placement of the colours and use up scraps of the fabric, I prepared them using a Vilene base. (Not an original idea, it has been demonstrated for years.)


                                        Patchwork blocks

I started off with a multi-coloured fabric and a neutral fabric and cut out several 2” squares. (Each block required 25 neutral and 24 coloured).


                                        Fabric and squares
I cut a 12” square of lightweight iron-on Vilene and placed it glue side up on top of a 2” grid drawn onto cardboard. I secured it with pins.


                                              Vilene on grid
I then placed the fabric squares in sequence onto the Vilene, RS up, so the raw edges touched but didn’t over-lap. The grid helped with placement.


                                   Squares onto Vilene
When I was happy with the arrangement, I ironed the squares well to stick them onto the Vilene.


                                        Stick the squares
To sew the vertical seam lines, I folded the first row of squares over the second row with RS together. (It folded easily along the line where the raw edges of the squares meet.) I sewed an accurate ¼” seam, feeding one block through after another to save thread.


                                         Vertical seam


                              Repeat for every seam
Before I could sew the horizontal seam lines in the same way, I needed to snip into the seam allowances of the vertical seams, up to the line of stitches but not through it.


                                     Clip the seam
The snip into the seam allowance allowed me to alternate the seams from light to dark.


                                     Horizontal seams

                                   Completed patchwork




Sunday, 10 March 2013

BLOG 139

Happy Mothering Sunday to those lucky enough to qualify! I remember the days when Mothering Sunday (not Mother’s Day as it is now called by the companies that produce and sell the cards) was a church celebration on the 4th Sunday in Lent. As Sunday school children, we honoured our mothers with small gifts of spring flowers, whilst being encouraged to compare this with Mother Church. That aside, I am just waiting for the family to arrive to share a special meal. I am so lucky they are local to me and that we can get together as often as we do. Family is the most important part of my life.




 Now what have I been up to this week? I suppose most of my time has been spent preparing for my WE course at Alston Hall in Lancashire. It is the only course I teach now and it is by invitation of the lady who organises it all. I have been going there with this particular group for years and I love it. They have already been taught most of what I know and it is always a struggle coming up with something refreshing but I do try. The food is scrummy at Alston, the staff wonderful and the classrooms have all the facilities required for a successful course. And there is a bar … need I say more!

This year I am doing fusible piecing. There will be 3 different techniques for practical purposes and a demonstration of procedure for art quilts. There are no seams to sew, just shapes attached with a fusible or with Vilene. Speedy and great fun!

The 3 techniques are as follows:

 Square within a square


                                        Crazy patchwork


                             Patchwork and tonal sequences


I will show you more about these techniques through my blog after I have done the workshop.
In the meantime, I have been making the top of a tissue box (for myself this time surprisingly) and I am trying to do something just in stitch and sheers. I used to drive all the way to Willington, (near Oswestry, Shropshire) to Castle Court Quilters, to attend a machine embroidery course run by Suzette Smart. I really admire the quirky originality in her work and I loved the fact that I was able to sit all day and just concentrate of threads. I would never have been able to do that at home as I would have been constantly distracted by fabrics and the like. Google her name and follow the links if you are interested to see her work. Anyway my lid has been started using techniques I have picked up in her classes.

I started with a background fabric reinforced with a firm backing. On the background fabric I have defined with lines of stitches where the oval centre and outer edges will be. I have added sheers and started to draw with threads and a free-motion technique. This is what it looks like after about an hour of playing about with threads and there is much more work to do. Watch this space.


                                          Initial drawing


                                        Writing detail

We’re off to Centre Parcs for 2 nights this week, to join my daughter and family who are there all week. The weather forecast is horrendous with snow and plummeting temperatures. Wish us luck!!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

BLOG 138

I have been helping to steward our Chester P&Q exhibition this week. It was staged in the ancient and atmospheric environment the Chapter House of Chester Cathedral. This provided a wonderful backdrop for our work and we felt privileged to be allowed to use the space. Apart from the group members who went into the exhibition for free, 1,429 members of the public paid to come and see it over the 5 days. All the money raised is to go to the Cathedral so they were thrilled by the public response. Well done to those who organised it and carried it through the week; a lot of hard work but well worth it. Here is a taster of the exhibition showing the variety of work and illustrating the many sources of inspiration found within the cathedral. Enjoy!


                                 General view




                                   Stained Glass



                                    Water fountain inspired


                                   Traditional and innovative


                                Quilt in different settings


                                  Musical theme


                            Sunbonnet Sue at the Olympics

                                        Garden triptych


                                     Noah’s Ark

                                 Art cushion and book covers




                                  More stars

PS I was really shocked to hear of the death of Di Huck this week. She came on the quilting scene when I did, almost 30 years ago, and she has influenced many quilters’ lives over the years. She was the one who started the Malvern Quilt Show, and got the Patchwork and Quilting magazine up and running. She also started the Quilting/textile tours. She was a real innovator in the organisational centre of the quilting world and, although some people wouldn’t perhaps have recognised her, she has certainly been instrumental in improving the quality of their quilting lives.