Sunday, 27 October 2013

BLOG 172

As we brace ourselves for the hurricane-like storms that are due to rip across the UK, I can’t help but be a bit sceptical when I look out of the window and see the sun shining and a gentle breeze ruffling the leaves on our autumnal trees. This is known as the calm before the storm. Personally I would regard quilt-making as the reverse of this because in my experience the storm definitely comes before the calm! Below is a case in point. The way I work, I have the turmoil of haphazard piles of fabric strips strewn in front of me. These are sifted through, turned over and sifted again in order to find the exact strip I need for my continuous smudges of colour. I just can’t work tidily and I would argue that if I was tidy, I would not be so creative. Does anyone have any views on this; I’d be interested to hear them?

                                                  The storm

 I have demonstrated my working procedure for my painterly quilts before in earlier blogs, and it certainly works for me. I suppose the down-side of it is that I have mountains of strips left over after such a project. But then the up-side is that the guilt of seeing the  piles of left-overs make me get started on another project …. And then I have to cut more fabric to get the right transition from one colour to another … and then there are lots left over …. Eureka! I think I might just have discovered the secret for perpetual quilting!

Here is the penultimate square which to me demonstrates my calm after my storm.

                                             The calm

And here are the 12 blocks completed, with one colour smudging pleasingly into another. I haven’t a clue where this is going, (if you remember I started it as a therapy when my mother was starting to fail) and I may just put it to one side now and let my subconscious start to work. To feed my imagination, I will start to look at hundreds of pictures of quilts and eventually an idea will surface. At the moment I am thinking that the small centre square will be cut as a circle. Also I have decided that each square will be worked and completed individually and then joined up at the end to make a larger piece. Watch this space as they say!

                              12 squares

                                                Detail 1

                                                Detail 2

                                                  Detail 3

                                                    Detail 4

Sunday, 20 October 2013

BLOG 171


I would like to thank everyone for their kind words of comfort and support during this difficult time over the death of my mother. The funeral and the formalities are now behind me and I feel as though I can move forward once again, albeit rather numbly. But as the wonderful memories of her long and loving life trickle back to me, I will savour them. I have now been thrown reluctantly into the position of the ‘elder generation’ with no-one to shield my back, but I take comfort from the fact that both my parents are within me for the remainder of my own life journey.


And so what do you do when you are feeling numb …. You make a quilt!!

I will be leading a mini workshop soon in Gresford on the subject of string piecing. As it is now close to Christmas and I have lots of Christmas scraps, I thought this would be a good place to start.


 1 Cut your scraps of fabric into strips of varying widths: 1” 1 ¼” 1 ½” 1 ¾ and 2”

                                         Fabric strips

2 Decide on your sewing method and cut 6 ½” (larger f you prefer) squares of your chosen background. You can use paper, calico or batting as a background. Paper is a very cheap medium, it is accurate and it is removed after sewing and trimming. Calico adds an extra layer because it is not removed, it is accurate and it allows you to sew by hand if you prefer. Batting can stretch during sewing (but this can be adjusted on the cutting table) but you won’t have to do extensive quilting afterwards.

                                 Calico, batting and paper

3 Pin your first strip RS upwards along the centre diagonal. You can mark guide lines parallel to your diagonal to help with alignment.

                                         Pin centre strip

4 Place another strip on top of the first strip, with RS together and sew a ¼” seam. If you have chosen to sew onto paper, sew with tiny stitches to perforate the paper for ease of removal but not to tear it.

                                         ¼” seam

5 Flip the strips over to lie flat on the paper and finger press to remove creases in the seam. Or press with an iron as you go.

                                        Flip and press

6 Cover the complete background square with strips and press.

                                 Press when complete

Turn over onto the WS and you will see the extra fabric extending beyond the edges of the background.

                            Extra fabric from WS

7 Trim away the excess fabric on a cutting board.


If you are using calico or batting, the procedure is just the same.

                                     Different backgrounds

Sunday, 13 October 2013

BLOG 170



My main focus this week has been non-creative. Instead it has been emotionally wrapped around the final days of my mother, Doris Osmotherley, who died on Tuesday 8th October. Although it wasn’t entirely unexpected at 97, it was a great shock when it actually happened. My sister, brother and wife and I were with her till the end which will be of some comfort to us eventually when the raw and intense emotions of the occasion subside. She was a good Mam, fiercely proud of her Welshness and amazingly devoted to her extensive family.

She will be greatly missed but lovingly remembered by us all.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

BLOG 169

As you may know if you are a regular reader, I go to the home of Suzette ‘one pin’ Smart to do machine embroidery. I don’t have the discipline to sit all day here at home working just with threads because I get easily distracted back to my fabrics. So, armed with a sewing machine, a box of threads and a few essential embroidery supplies, I take myself off to her house and just sew. It is not a workshop as such but there is advice if I need it and inspiration by the bucketful. Just being with other machine embroiderers is inspirational; you can see what they are working on, enjoy their colour palette and witness how they achieve their results.

 The inspiration for my 3-D picture has been taken from my garden where, this year, the butterflies have been wonderful! The buddleia has been covered with them and on one occasion I have counted as many as 15 of them. The two pictures below show their beautiful markings.

                        Small tortoiseshell

 Red Admiral

 At the first class, I decided I would try to draw some vague replicas of common butterflies just using threads. I trapped a few bits of sheer fabric between 2 layers of a vanishing medium. This was held in an embroidery frame whilst the stitching was done. First I drew an outline for each butterfly and then I filled them in with different coloured threads, mainly scribbling to give a tangle of threads. The vanishing medium was soaked away leaving the butterflies attached to the flimsy sheers which gave them a lovely delicacy. They are going to be stiff enough to bend in the middle to give them dimension to the picture.

                       Butterflies on sheer

 At the second session, I started to work on a background picture, dominated by a buddleia on which the butterflies will eventually rest. I used layers, texture and stitch to compose it and I believe I have laid down a good foundation as a base for more stitching and texture.

(ASIDE: Seeing it through the lens of a camera has given me the distance I needed to appraise progress. There are a few things that need attention which I hadn’t been aware of by just looking at it at arm’s length! The camera shows just how the picture will look inside it’s frame and the use of a camera cannot be under estimated.)

                    Foundation of picture

                          Buddleia detail



 I have made a bit more progress on my painterly piece, with only a couple more squares to do to give me the twelve I think I need for this project.

                        Painterly background