Sunday, 23 February 2014

BLOG 188

Another week, another flower and this time it is Nasturtiums; these definitely come high on the list of my favourite flowers. I love the colours and the hardiness of them and the fact that they self-seed so easily. They definitely want to be there and they give value in colourful displays when they are there! Here is the set-up in the loft (studio is difficult to heat well this time of the year), with threads, machine, reference material, a rough sketch of what I want to achieve and Super Solvy held in a hoop with coloured sheers  trapped in between.

                                       Set up

The sketch is drawn inside a circle made by drawing round the hoop I am going to use.


I have started the stitchery in the appropriate colours. The reference pictures are so important when creating a thread-painted picture; as well as giving ideas for colours, they offer ideas for shading and close-up detail.


Here is a close-up at the start of the project, where you can see leaf and flower shapes outlined in thread and the start of the colouring-in process. Several shades of thread are used to give depth. It is, of course, early days with this picture!

                                        Colouring in

STRINGING THE STARS A scrap quilt project

As mentioned in the last Blog, I have embarked on another scrap quilt using the string piecing method. ‘A String of Diamonds’ was visually so successful as a finished quilt that I wanted to try another one with the same technique. I recommend using this foundation method, whether on a fabric or on a paper base, for its accuracy and for using up a fabric stash!

For this quilt I am going to used patterned batiks and I have worked out how to create stars within the design, based on a finished 8” square. The background squares will be trimmed to 8 ½”.

Aside: A4 paper is just a bit on the narrow side so I have to mark one edge to remind myself to extend the fabrics an extra ½” on that edge.

                            Squares for the background

For the stars I need a 4 ½” centre, four 2 ½” light squares and eight 2 ½” half-square triangles.

                                Squares for the stars

The fabric strips are prepared and placed into 3 separate bags as follows:

Bag 1:  Light/medium fabric strips cut at 1 ¼” 1 ½”, 1 ¾” 2”

Bag 2: Dark fabric strips cut at ¾” and 1”

Bag 3: Medium/light fabrics cut at ¾” and 1”

                                     Fabric strips

Sunday, 16 February 2014

BLOG 187


Well, what a week we have had; it was certainly the week of the big storm! We heeded the warnings, anchored stuff down outside and braced ourselves for what was to come. It was fast and furious up here on the hill over-looking Mold! Glass flew out of the greenhouse; a newish swing seat was ripped from its moorings and lifted over the garden wall to be deposited in its component parts into our field and a long fence panel blew over. But the worst thing was being without power. The outage was very much us and our immediate neighbours because, frustratingly, we could see everyone else’s lights twinkling around us. We showered at friends, cadge cuppas, filled flasks, ate out, lit candles (the mainly scented varieties made the house smell like a tart’s boudoir!) and sat on top of the log burner. We read by torch light and verbally reminisced our way through our many splendid holidays; it was quite an exercise! But our experience was but an inconvenience and it was all relative; at least we didn’t get flooded.

One trip away from home, during our powerless period, took us to Llangollen to enjoy the Quiltfest exhibitions in the Royal Pavilion and museum. Here are a couple of my favourite Barbara Howell pieces.

                              Barbara Howell 1


                              Barbara Howell 2

And here are the details of two of my favourite the Dutch connection quilt.

                 Freida Oxenholme

                                   Ineke Berlyn

Powerless has meant that sewing has had to take a back seat but I can show you where I am going with my next string quilt. This will be made out of my collection of patterned Batiks and at the moment it is called ‘Stringing the Stars’; there will be more on the method for this quilt next week.

                                            Stringing the Stars

I have been working spasmodically on the flowers for my calendar quilt. Here are another two.


                                     Snowdrops and aconites



Sunday, 9 February 2014

BLOG 186


Scrappy Trip Round the World

I made 16 blocks quite quickly using the speed method that I outlined last week and I ironed the seam allowances all in the same direction on the back. But, when I tried to join 2 such blocks, it seemed impossible to butt the seams together which is my preferred way of sewing (rather than ironing the seams open) . So I thought about it again and decided to add a 1 ½” joining strip as an easier option, with a 2 ½” border. By this stage I think that I had already decided that I didn’t want to make this quilt on a larger scale.  This project will now be put to one side, awaiting other such ‘get it out of my system’ projects, and given eventually to the Linus Quilt Project. The process has had a couple of benefits however; the first is that I have made a modest impact into my stash of patterned Batik fabrics and the second is that it has shown me that I can use these patterned fabrics to create value (lightness and darkness). I like the vitality of the Batiks but not this particular pattern so I have decided to use them to make another individual string quilt. Watch this space as they say!

                                           Scrappy Trip

I need now to make progress on my thread work which I am going to use with the painterly quilt block. Here’s a reminder of the poinsettia which I have made for the December block.


And here’s a reminder of the process. Fragments of sheers and fibres are trapped in a frame between 2 layers of Super Solvy. Naturally at this stage I have chosen my colour scheme as it is this that influences my choices of sheers.

                                 Super Solvy and fibres


Then I need to sort out threads in my chosen colours.

                               Painting with thread

I do some basic drawings by way of research to familiarise myself with the shape of my chosen flowers and leaves. I then make a sketch about the size of the area I want to replicate and place it beside my sewing machine for reference.

                                     Reference material

And this is what I created.  I really like the way the sheers extend beyond the thread work and I hope to make it a feature within the context of the quilt.


So far I have completed 4 such thread pictures and here they are. I am really loving the process and enjoying the results. I’m still not sure where I go from here but, as there are 8 more to do, I don’t have to make any more decisions yet. I will have some serious thinking time as I sew.

                                      Thread flowers

I taught a ‘String of Diamonds’ workshop at Quiltfest in Llangollen yesterday. It wasn’t well attended but for those there, it was a productive day. Thanks to Carol, Marion, Diane and Nicky for your company and thanks for the pics Jackie H. (Note to self: always take you camera with you!!)

                                      Strips onto paper

                              Building blocks

ASIDE: I showed my horse quilt at Gresford craft group and a lady (she’ll be flattered with that!) came up afterwards to ask what sort of horse it was!!! ‘Sort of horse’ ... that never crossed my mind! To me it was a stylised design that I had drawn but I have been told on authority, by she who knows, that it is a Welsh Cob!! I haven’t settled on a name yet but it is the spit and image of her Welsh Cob called Holly!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

BLOG 185


Sometimes a girl just can’t help herself! I have just spent a concentrated three weeks on the horse wall hanging and I have cleaned and tidied my chaos away. My thoughts then turn to what I should be doing next but I feel that I need a quick fabric fix. So I have embarked on a Scrappy Trip Round the World. It is one of those quilts that I have seen often on the internet and I have always wanted to have a go at the pattern, using my Batiks fabrics. I am going to use the over-dyed fabrics which are often difficult to use, so here goes!

Scrappy Trip Round the World

For each square cut 6 strips: 2 ½” x 16” (I have chosen to start each group with a dark strip)

                                                     6 strips

 Sew the strips together with an accurate ¼” seam allowance.

                                        Accurate seam

                                           Joined strips

Press the seams in the same direction for ease of cutting away. I am ironing away from the darkest strip.

                                       Press the seams

Sew the first strip to the last strip to make a tube

                                          Make a tube

 Press to make the tube flat in preparation for cutting. Straighten the top edge if necessary and cut across the tube at 2 ½” intervals.

                                        2 ½” strips

This will give you 6 sections and a bit over (your margin of error!).

                                                  6 sections

Starting with the darkest square at the top (#6), undo the seam allowance between #6 and the adjacent square #1. (I just cut every 4th stitch and then tug the seam to undo it.) Then undo the seam between #1 and #2 and the between #2 and #3 … and so on. Continue in this way, laying out the strips in sequence beside the sewing machine.

                                       Sequence of strips

Sew the strips together in sequence with a ¼” seam allowance. Alternate the seam allowances so you can butt them together. You can pin each seam or do as I do and nestle them together with your finger.

                                        Butt the seams

And before you know it you have a 12 ½” block.

                                             Building block

Continue to join strips in sequence, make tubes, slice and stack next to your sewing machine in readiness to sew more building blocks.

                                      Slice and stack

And before you know it, you have a pile if blocks. More next week.

                                               Pile of blocks

PS Next Saturday February 8th, I will be teaching ‘A STRING OF DIAMONDS’ workshop based on the quilt shown below.

                                       String of Diamonds
The class will be held at the Royal Pavilion in Llangollen, 10am to 4pm as part of QUILTFEST. There are lots of places still available on the workshop so if you are interested, the details can be seen at this link Follow the workshop link to find the workshop details. Come and join me!