Sunday, 29 June 2014

BLOG 204


Normal service has been resumed thankfully but, if I had to admit it, I rather enjoyed my period of non-contact with the outside world. It coincided with the lovely weather so the garden benefitted and our daughter’s boarding dogs got plenty of walks. It made me lift my eyes to look outwards into the big wide world instead of lowering them to focus on a small intense screen of the computer. And I know which I prefer.

This week, the focus is on the Gresford exhibition last week. I sold all of my items in the exhibition itself and all but 2 items on the sales table (an Xmas box and a cushion cover) which I gave away to get rid of them! I feel well cleared out and cash heavy and the process has been extremely cathartic. I have sold 4 utility quilts to date also. I hasten to add that all these items were priced to sell and if I had tried to price them for what they were really worth, I would have been bringing them home again!

The exhibition itself was very successful, with takings up again on last year at £6,714:58. As usual the food was the biggest earner, it has become a pivotal part of the week, with visitors enjoying the generous lunches and home cooked food as part of their exhibition experience. For those who visited and are interested in the results of the BLUE challenge, the beaded necklace won first place, Little Boy Blue was second and then the blue crocheted basket was third.

                                    Quilts 1

                                               Quilts 2

                                        Quilts 3

 Quilts 4

                                       Quilts 5

                               Quilts 6

                    Quilts and Blue challenge

Since the last exhibition, many of our members undertook a yearlong challenge to knit or crochet woolly hats for ‘Innocence Smoothie’ bottles. Apparently, during the winter months the makers of this product put a woolly hat on all their bottles. When they are sold, 25p is donated to Age UK. As a group, our target was 1,000 but we greatly exceeded that and made well over 1100 and counting.

                                 Innocence hats

                                  Detail of hats

It is impossible to show everything but here is a taster.

                 Cross stitch alphabet shawls

             Suffolk puffs Xmas tree

                                  Felted items

                        Bead display

  One of our guest exhibitors this year was hand embroiderer Daphne Ashby and what a wonderful display was put on in her name. Some of her pieces were mind-bogglingly exquisite!

                        Dimensional butterfly

                                 Mirrored box

            Ribbon work with stitchery


                                   Raised robin

There was also a fascinating display of work by student J Franklin. I think many of us thought it was a bit creepy when we first saw her disembodied trio staring at us through the open fretwork of the church screens but further investigation proved fascinating. Her accompanying book and design manual explained that her figures represented a neurological condition and how it affected her and other sufferers. This journey of discovery formed the basis of designs that she has subsequently used for very original jewellery.

                                Ghostly trio

 The first showed swollen nerve endings with the condition taking hold and spreading across the body.

                           Taking hold

 The second illustrated how debilitating this was and how it made her reassess herself as a person.


The third illustrated how much effort it took to do anything, even the smallest tasks took vast amounts of effort.

 No energy

 Nice to be back in ‘chat’ mode. More next week, computer-willing!







BLOG 203


Apologies to the regular readers who follow my blog, circumstances beyond our control prevented me from posting a blog the last 2 Sundays. We have been unable to log on for over 2 weeks now and we have had 5 BT engineers to date, each one promising much but delivering little. Up until this point, our regular but meagre rural service was passable and it allowed me to keep in touch, post my blog and scour the net for information. Now we have nothing and we are getting nowhere. It doesn’t help to see adverts for Super-fast Broadband blazoned across BT vans working locally, knowing that the service will never touch us mortals living in the sticks.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

BLOG 202


Last week I was in the grip of a nasty cold which made me low for a few days and which took several more to shake it off. As ever, generous to a fault, I have now passed it onto my husband who is just about on the right side of it now. I don’t know where it came from but it doesn’t help when people say ‘Oh there’s a lot of it about’. This immediately reduces it to something ‘common or garden’ and denigrates the self-cosseting we all like to indulge in when we feel under the weather.

That said, on the rare occasions when I do catch a cold, I usually take my box of tissues and a Lemsip to the sewing machine and just sew mindless stuff for hours on end. It requires little energy, it gets things done and it makes me feel mentally better than I am physically. So, more Gresford sale stuff has been finished this week. I added a backing fabric made up of Batik squares to ‘Trip round the Batiks’. It was quilted with an all-over random swirling design in a variegated thread, with a decorative machine stitch along the inserted blue strips.

                                      Backing fabric


 Then I moved onto ‘Stringing the Stars’ which, at the beginning of the week, was smaller than I wanted it. Much strip piecing onto a paper foundation layer later, and I was ready to make it larger.

                                         Stringing the stars

  I added more squares so it was 6 squares x 6 and attached a bright 2” border as a contrast


                                    Bright border

 I machine quilted around the dark centre squares of the stars with a decorative stitch and dark variegated thread, and I did a random swirling design in the lighter squares with a light variegated thread.

                 Centre square stitching

                         Background quilting

 Smaller stuff included some reverse applique workshop samples; these were easily made up into small Cat Mats, with a circle of decorative stitches in a variegated thread to finish them off.

                                     Cat mats

And finally, another stained glass wall hanging, similar to the one I showed a couple of week’s ago, was completed.

                         Stained glass 1

                        Stained glass 2

The work shown over the last few blogs represents a mammoth amount of work in anyone’s book and, if I am honest, I think I am done with this ‘slam them under the machine and knock them out’ pieces. Anyone who wants to make work to sell has to take short cuts and find the quickest way to churn them out, sales and money being the obvious focus. Where is the enjoyment in that? I am reminded of my one and only foray into ‘making to sell’ when I lived in Milton Abbas in Dorset. I was asked by the owner of the local tea rooms to replicate a doyley made in fine cotton. With a sense of pride and some effort, I replicated it and showed it to them. ‘How much would you estimate it cost you to make it?’ was the obscure way the question was posed. Thinking in terms of the cotton I used and not the time it took, I estimated about 90p. ‘OK’ came the reply, ‘We’ll have 40 of them!’ I hadn’t seen that coming and, being too polite to remonstrate, I just gritted my teeth and got on with them. I vowed then that I would never make anything to sell ever again. And what have I been doing over the last few weeks? Making stuff to sell! Time for a drastic change after Gresford I think.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

BLOG 201


Another week, another bag! I had a strip of bargello patchwork left over from demonstration years ago and there seemed too much work in it to throw it away. So I quilted it onto a strip of batting with free-motion machining.

                                      Quilted bargello

                                        Detail of quilting

I decided to construct this bag more easily, the way I always made tea cosies in the olden days when they were fashionable. I folded the quilted strip in half with RS in. I folded the lining, cut to the same size, in half too with RS together and placed all the pieces together. I pinned round the outside edges to hold the layers together during sewing.

                          Lining and quilted outer fabric

 I sewed a generous ¼” seam along the two long sides and left the top edge open and the folded base edges free.

                                         Side seams

I trimmed away the excess fabric across the lower corners of the bag.

                             Trim the corners

 The bag was then turned RS out, placing the lining inside the bag.

                                  Turn RS out

The corners were shaped by sewing across from the lining side.

                            Shaping the corner

                           Shaped corner

And, if I had had my wits about me, I would have made sure that the lining was a lot longer so that I could have turned over the excess fabric and sewed it down to bind the top of the bag. As it was, I had to trim what was there and prepare a separate binding.

                                Trim the lining

                              Prepared binding

Handles were made in the same way as described previously and there was another bag for sale at Gresford this month, 17th to 20th.

                                   Prepared handles

Last month I attended a fabric book workshop run by Maryke Philips, ably abetted by her husband Geoff. They trade as ‘Batiks and Beads’ which meant that they had wonderful supplies to support the workshop. This was outside my sphere of sewing experiences but I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. It was the colour of her samples that attracted me and here are some of my humble attempts so far. Beads were used extensively throughout Maryke’s work and they looked lovely but this girl decided a while ago that she loathes sewing on beads and it’s a direction she doesn’t particularly want to go in!!!

                      Felt, thread and stitch

                       Stamping and stitch

                              Pre-cut houses

                          Silk velvet rubbing 1

                         Silk velvet rubbing 2

                          Pattern and stitch

                          Feather stitch