Sunday, 27 April 2014

BLOG 197

This has been an exceptionally busy week for me. Like last week, I have spent precious little time on sewing because I have been preparing food for 33 guests plus 5 children who are coming here on Sunday for my 65th birthday and my husband’s 70th birthday. (His actual birthday is in May but by that time we will be on the Greek island of Kefalonia for a week’s holiday in the sun so apologies in advance. (No blog next week!) Invitations have been issued inviting guests to come and sob with us; a marquee has been erected because we can’t trust our weather; food has been prepared and frozen with the fresh food still to be done on Saturday and a frock has been purchased! Bring it on is what I say!!


This week I have been diverted again, having found inspiration from a piece of wrapping paper. Here is an image of the paper.

                                 Wrapping paper

 Of course you never have the right fabrics in stock so I am going to make it in my own painterly fabrics which form the basis of my stash. Here is the background I have chosen.

                                         Background fabric

I traced the bird shapes onto a piece of calico.

                                        Traced pattern

 I placed the calico behind the background fabric and pinned the layers together. The bird fabric was placed RS up, on the RS of the background and it was pinned in place.  

                                              Bird fabric

From the calico side, where the marked was visible, I basted round the body to hold the fabric in place.

                                          Basted shapes

From the RS, the fabric was cut away on the outside of the stitched line. The wing was done next from a second layer of fabric placed on top of the body.

                           Appliqued birds and wings





Sunday, 20 April 2014

BLOG 196

Happy Easter Sunday. We have had such a lovely week weather-wise in the UK that spring has actually sprung! The hedgerows are covered in bright acid green leaves, the intense colour that you only get in the spring. The blue tits are building their nest and we hear that the local swallows are beginning to arrive back after over-wintering in the warmth. I have spent a lot of time in the garden with the sun on my back this week and precious little time in my studio. That said, I did find time to add detailed decorative stitching to the Jacobean wall hanging. Occasionally I use one of the stitches programmed into my machine but mostly I use free-motion stitching because I like the freedom it affords and it allows me to be creative within the space provided.

                                         Stitching detail 1

                                    Stitching detail 2

                                  Background texture

I have trimmed away the excess fabric from around the edge and it is ready to bind. I will do this in the same fabric that was used as the background.

     Completed wall hanging

 This week I have desperately needed to make progress on my panel for this year’s group quilt and any sewing time has been spent on that. I can’t tell you what it is about but rest assured that we are back in our humorous mode and I just know the quilt will entertain those who are viewing it when it is on show at the Festival of Quilts.

On the calendar quilt front, I did a bit of sewing and soldering of sheer fabrics behind the hydrangea flower. I have yet to design the intricate pattern that will be featured on the block. Sometimes it is the designing that slows down the progress, but I am convinced that I am on the right track now with this quilt.

                                 Hydrangea in thread

                                         Hydrangea and sheers

Sunday, 13 April 2014

BLOG 195


This week I have continued to make progress on items that I intend to display and sell at the Gresford show in June. Here is another teaching sample which I thought was too good to throw away. I had completed and joined 3 vertical lines in one sequence but for some reason, I had another 3 vertical lines in another sequence. This was probably the reason it was never finished.

                                   Tiles quilt

 It took longer than I intended to produce a reasonable sized quilt (49” x 52”) and here is the evidence of the sewing and undoing and re-sewing. I felt no conscience in throwing away what was left and was heartily glad to know that I don’t have to do any more of it!!                                                                                                                                     


I have quilted the rows ‘in the ditch’ with a walking foot and I used a free motion foot to do a wandering stem and leaf design using a variegated thread.  After it was bound, the last thing I had to do was to sign it.

                                Stem and leaves design


I have begun the last 2 flowers on my calendar quilt, a clematis and a rose. They need a bit more work on them before I remove the water soluble medium. Then I can concentrate on the individual quilt squares.

                                      Thread flowers

A company in the USA (The Creative Iron) laser cuts a selection of my silhouette patterns on ready-fused black fabric. I came across some during the clean out and this is a sample of a Jacobean strip that they decided not to run with. There is no need to sew the black fabric cut-outs as the heavy fusible prevents it from fraying.

                        Jacobean strip

                                    Decorative stitching

Most evenings now I am making myself do some squares on my ‘Stringing the Stars’ quilt. There is still much ground to cover but I will get there in the end!

                                      Stringing the stars

I have 3 potential gate quilts for Gresford, again these are workshop/book samples that just needed finishing. Here is the first which I have now quilted and bound and it is in need of a hanging sleeve.

                                         Garden gate

                                    Textural quilting

 ASIDE: I have spent my day today at a willow weaving workshop, making a hanging basket. It was my birthday treat from my daughters and their families and I have had a lovely time. I now have a cone shaped hanging basket and just need to fill it with plants so I can enjoy seeing them thrive through the summer.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

BLOG 194


It must be spring! At this time of the year, with the lengthening of the days and the warmth of the sunshine, I can’t resist having a good and thorough clear-out. It’s as though I am cleansing my environment after the gloom of the dark days of winter and de-cluttering my space and therefore my mind (bless that one little brain cell!) I have more or less accepted now that I am retired (after 8 years of doing less and less teaching!) and will not be getting back onto the teaching circuit again. To that end, I have thrown away 2 huge bin bags of paper patterns, workshop hand-outs, visual aids and magazine cuttings.  Instead of cramming stuff precariously into the nearest cupboard, I have bought more storage boxes, one for sheers, one for felting wool, another for fancy fabrics and yet another for silk and the workroom looks much tidier.

During this drastic sort out, I came across some ‘historic’ (done over 15 years ago!) pieces that were too good to chuck out because I had spent too much time on them already. So this week I decided to start to complete them in preparation for selling them at the Gresford show in June (unless I get a good offer before then!) The first is a Tiffany-inspired stained glass with Hollyhocks which I used to teach as a workshop many moons ago. This is how I had left it and you can see that it is worth completing. I just need to add the stems and the bias binding, sew on the bias binding, and quilt the picture and trim and bind it …. Not much to do then …!!


To construct the picture, I use a method where the design is drawn onto the WS of a piece of calico and the fabrics are pinned RS up onto the unmarked side. From the WS, I sew on the lines to trap the fabrics in place and then from the RS I trim away the excess fabric right up to the sewing line. This is how I added the stems.

                                    Pin onto the RS

 Sew from the WS to trap the fabric and turn back to the RS

                   Trim away the excess fabric up to the stitches

The bias binding comes ready prepared with a fusible backing and is a wonderful product to use.

                                              The product

If I am working on my lap, I use a tacking stitch to hold the bias binding in place before ironing it to stick it down. If I am in my workroom, with an iron handy, I iron all the pieces in place. It is fast and efficient and the pattern is defined in no time at all. The binding needs to be placed in sequence from background to foreground so I often have a couple of lengths on the go at any one time.

                                  Sequence for placement

                Fused binding

The binding needs to be sewn down and this can be done by hand or machine. I chose to machine sew on the edges of the binding with a straight stitch. I placed the picture onto batting and backing to give extra body during sewing and to quilt it at the same time. I add quilting texture to the background spaces prior to binding the edges. All I need to do now is to add detail and texture to the flowers and leaves and a hanging strip on the back and it is finished! Finishing this project has refreshed my interest in stained glass so keep looking into my blog to see  more of it sometime in the future.

                                      Stitched binding

               Bound edges

 ASIDE: I have inadvertently deleted the email I had from Suzette ‘one pin’ Smart with the picture of her winning embroidery at the NEC. If you google her name, you can now see her winning piece on her blog.