Sunday, 27 July 2014

BLOG 208


The official UK summer holidays for schools are now on and many groups take a well-earned break from their routine meetings. I think this is a good idea because you start again refreshed and eager in September. So I too have decided to take a break from my usually ‘quilty’ things.

Over the past few weeks I have continued to sort out and throw out, emptying files and cabinets of all the things I no longer think are worth keeping, like all the magazine projects and articles that I have accumulated over the years. Some of the detritus goes back to my very early quilting days 30 years ago and much of the detail and most of the methods have been long superseded by more up-to-date approaches. I had kept articles on quilters that I admired and there were files of pictures of quilts that I loved, pages of tips and wrinkles, advice on quilting supplies …. And so it goes on. Now there is Google and I have all the information I could ever want or need at my fingertips as well as any amount of advice, comment or demonstration videos that I could wish for. And I also own shelves of books. I have over-load on a grand scale!

So a break is a good idea and during this precious free time I am going to work my way through projects and skills that I have wanted to try but never got round to having a go  at them. I am interested in processes rather than an end product which was my only aim in the run-up to the Gresford craft show. Look in often over the summer and you should see a plethora of ideas (some successful I hope, and some not I dare say). I will just go wherever the creative wind blows me and see what comes out of it! It is a rare chance for me to play.


I have had a go at simple wet felting once and this is what I made from a mixed bag of fibres. It feels very soft to the touch and surprisingly tough.

                          Wet felting

 Then, 2 years ago, I bought a needle felting machine and I have made precious little with it apart from copying a couple of landscapes. This one is made on a double background layer of felt with cotton batting on top. It is very strong and stable.

                     Needle felted landscape

Then a good friend recently gave me some wool tops (roving) that she bought and never used. These are the recommended fibres for felting and this gave me the impetus to start exploring what I could use them for. But first, I need to make something as a thank you for my friend so that I didn’t have a guilty conscience about using her fibres!  

                                  Wool tops

 I started to pull tufts of wool from the tops and mixed the fibres together under the needles of the felting machine without any backing fabric. I continued to add more fibres and pound them together to make felt which was surprisingly easy. From the sequence below you will see that there was no attention to what colour goes where, it was all totally random.


                               More fibres


                                 Felt detail RS

                                    Felt detail WS

When I inspected this first attempt closely, I found that I was distracted by the needle holes punched into the felt; I much preferred the texture of the WS. That said, I used the needle-punched side to create an A5 book cover for my friend. I made extra felt and cut out a large and small flower which I added by needle felting them to the front.



                               Completed WS

                                   Completed RS

What did I learned?

The process of felting with the machine is safe and easy. There is no danger of getting your fingers under the needle and apart from the using colour in a more thoughtful way for future projects, it is simple to do.

I prefer the look of the WS of needle-punched felt. (Can a piece be made in reverse I ask myself?)

I like the fact that there was no backing layer, this was pure felt made with the correct materials.

This first attempt made me ask myself whether I would like to try to use felt in a more painterly way.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

BLOG 207

We went to a Christening in Yorkshire yesterday. A lovely little girl has been adopted into the family and, because she is 3, I was finding it difficult to buy the right present. Traditional gifts seem to be geared towards babies so, after much thought, I decided to make a box for her to keep her treasures in. Sometimes I’m sure that people think that homemade stuff is cheap and second rate but the materials and threads alone cost nearly £20 and that’s without the effort and attention to detail that has gone into the making of it. I have already ‘taught’ the memorabilia box as a project in BLOG 100 so refer back to it if you are interested in having a go. It makes a lovely gift, very individual and special.

Be aware that this is just an over-view of the procedure; step-by-step instructions can be located in Blog 100 (May 2012). First, prepare the card.

                            Base 5 shapes

                            Base and lining 10 shapes

                                   Lid 3 shapes

Cut the outer fabric, the lining fabric and batting strips and cover them as per instructions.

                             Covered linings

Sew the box sides around the base and sew up the sides.

                                  Box outside

                                       Box inside

Add the linings on 3 sides and secure with pegs.

                                     Add linings
Prepare and place the hinge and add the fourth lining and leave to dry.

                       Hinge and base complete

Place the lid lining onto the box and fold the hinge onto it and stick it down firmly.
Stick hinge onto top lining.

Make a tassel with embroidery thread and stick it in place centrally on top of the lid lining.

                                Prepare a tassel


Prepare a suitable top and stick it onto the inner lid. Stick them onto the lid lining and apply weight to sick them all together thoroughly. And that’s all there is to it apart from adding personal touches to the inside with labels/gifts/novelties etc. Job done!

                                         Lid top

                             Completed box

                                     Inside label

           Special Christening card

                      Tooth fairy cushion 4”

ASIDE: This week saw the finish of our group quilt for the Festival of Quilts. All I am prepared to say at this stage is that you will be queueing to see it!!



Sunday, 13 July 2014

BLOG 206


Continuing on from last week, this is how I went about designing the gate for the A4 picture made last week. It is to be sold at the Festival of Quilts to raise funds for the Quilters Guilds.

I started with a sheet of A4 paper (department of the bleeding obvious here!) On it, I drew a shape that I rather liked and divided it into balanced structural units. The decorative elements of the gate will be added within this structure. Here is the starting point with some trial lines.

                      Shape and structure

I only intend to draw half the gate as the paper can be folded and the design easily traced. On the second picture, I have added more structure to the bottom of the gate and continued to add lines.

                         More structure

Now that I am happier with the balance of the design, I free-hand draw  ‘S’ shapes and curls to fill in the spaces, making sure that they are attached to each other and the edges of the structural units. This is fun to do but an eraser is essential to the process. I make lots of mistakes and draw some pretty awful lines at times, but I get there in the end. I really like the design at this stage which is really important if I am to go on and spend time sewing it..

             Completed left side

 All I have to do now is to fold the paper down the middle and trace the design onto the right hand side. I use a light box for this.

              Completed gate

As this is a small piece, and it will never be laundered, I am not going to be a purist as I usually am when thinking quilt; 3 layers: top, batting and backing. I trace the design onto a medium-weight Vilene which will remain in place and add an extra layer to the quilt.

                  Tracing on Vilene

I need to add some railings to extend the ironwork beyond the sides of the gate.

                      Gate and railings

I pin the tracing in place on the back of the batting; remember that all the machine texturing has already been added to the garden picture and this can be seen faintly through the Vilene.

                            Pin the tracing

I then sew all the structural lines on the WS in preparation for doing a machine zigzag from the RS.

                       Structural lines WS

I have already chosen a metallic thread to make the gate.

                            Structural lines RS

And then I remember that this particular thread works better on the bobbin; it breaks maddeningly often on the top of the machine. So I could have saved myself the effort of defining the structural lines with a straight stitch and just worked from the back. This is how I worked for the rest of the time.

                       In progress

I did a trial run of trying to define the curly lines with a free-motion straight stitch but discovered straight away that it wasn’t going to show.

                                   Curved lines

I chose a very small zigzag and that worked fine. Here is the completed gate.

                      Finished ‘Unfini-shed

I added a backing fabric and secured it around the edge. It had to be an unfinished piece so that saved me having to bind it. It has been sent off now and is safely in the hands of the organisers of the fund raising event. JOB DONE!! I have just been on the web site to see if it has been featured, and it has and happily it has also been sold. Here’s the link if you want to have a look at other unfinished items:


Sunday, 6 July 2014

BLOG 205


This week I have been making a small quilt, A4 size and unfinished, which has to be recognisable as my work. Many ‘names’ in the quilting world have been invited to donate such pieces to the QG for a fundraising drive at the FOQ. They will all be priced at £25:00 and it is an opportunity for others to own small quilts by well-known quilters in the UK. My starting point was a sample of a garden gate which I had once drawn by machine with variegated thread.

                              Thread gate

I decided to do a darker version of a thread gate but when I soaked it to remove the soluble medium, it all but fell apart because many of the elements were unconnected! I needed to think more about this so I decided to make a background garden first.

                                        Disastrous gate

This garden started with a rough outline on A$ paper.

                            Outline sketch

The various elements of the garden were traced onto the release paper from Bondaweb.


 I found a box of ready-bonded off-cuts from previous projects and this became my palette.


I cut out and placed the tracing of the pathway onto a Teflon strip and ironed over-lapping strips onto it to cover the whole shape, just beyond the traced lines.

                             Overlapping strips

                           Completed pathway

I continued to work shape by shape, placing them in situ as they were completed.

                         Building up the design

                                 More shapes

 I auditioned 2 fabrics for the sky and went with the rosier colours. Next week I will show you how I resolved the gate problem.

                                           Sky 1

                             Sky 2

I have been laundering some of my early utility quilts ready for selling. They looked lovely on the washing line, blowing in the warm breezes of last week. Some have been sold already.

                                    Quilts 1

If anyone wants to buy either of the quilts below, for £30 each and postage, email me for more information!

                                         Quilts 2