Sunday, 25 January 2015

BLOG 232

BLOG 232 Sunday January 18th 2015

What a week I have had. After completing my Blog after lunch last week I spent a couple of hours in my studio, working intensively with Batiks and Bali fabrics. By tea time, I had really bad stomach pains, so much so that I had to take pain killers and clutch a hot water bottle for relief. I naturally thought back over what I had eaten and, as both Roger and I ate the same food for breakfast and lunch, there were no clues there.

Then my mind turned to the fabrics. I have had upset systems before (though not as severe as this time round) and I have put it down to the fabrics which I don’t wash before I use. All I can think of is that when I am working with strips, I perhaps lick my fingers to separate the fabrics and transfer toxins from fabrics to fingers to mouth. I feel my lips reacting and I develop a horrid taste in my mouth which then upsets the rest of my system. I feel like I am being poisoned.

But I have never heard or read that anyone else has had the same trouble. I imagine that if there was a problem, the people in shops who handle and cut these fabrics day in and day out ought to have the same reaction. There must be thousands of sewers who use the fabulous batiks and Bali fabrics so if there was a problem it ought to have surfaced by now. My reason for mentioning all this is to ask if anyone has had the same problem or has heard of someone who has. In the meantime, I am washing and drying loads of fabric daily to try and do something positive to rectify the situation.

                                   Washed fabrics

                          Drying fabric


As I was incapacitated this week, I have had little time to sew but I did start half-heartedly to think about the challenge project and researched a bit of information on line. My early attempts to put ideas on paper predictably turned out to be very traditional, with the ‘Storm at Sea’ block as a background or perhaps as a border on 2 sides. The block could be coloured to give the appearance of crashing waves.

                               First ideas

As a starting point, I even drafted out the different pattern pieces for an 8” block.

                                        Storm at Sea

Not really knowing what I was doing, I thought then that I would try to transfer my Great Grandfather’s image onto a sheet of fusible (thank goodness it didn’t snarl up the printer!!) so I could stick it onto fabric. This was not as successful as I had hoped.

                                  Image on fusible

As another random thought, I looked around to find something already constructed and wondered if it could be utilised in the challenge project. I found a colourful background and pondered whether to use it, especially as purple is traditionally the colour of remembrance. More vibrant thought is needed and, as I am much improved, I will feel more creative this coming week.

                              Potential background?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

BLOG 231

BLOG 231 January 18th 2015


Some wintery days are wet and miserable and generally they make me feel like hibernating but what’s not to like about the scene which greeted us this morning? On such days the air is crystal clear, the sun shines brightly and the light makes the snow on the shrubs glistens like diamonds. Magical ….. just as long as I don’t have to go out. I sent Rog out to take this picture!


                                                             Y Gorlan Plas Onn

 The exhibition pieces have been handed over so it was a relief to draw a line under that creative journey. Then I discovered that a challenge had been set by Chester Ps&Qs last year. I am a member of the group and I like to support their activities but it was a bit of a wake up moment to discover that the quilts had to be handed over at their AGM next month. Nothing like a short time scale to concentrate the mind; that’s the way I generally choose to work.

The theme is ‘Remembrance’ and open to any interpretation, the size is 24” x 24” and the submitted quilts will form part of what is known as a ‘suitcase collection’ for Chester Ps&Qs. These quilts will eventually travel round as a collection between groups but each quilt will remain the property of the maker. Obviously, they have to be made to a uniform size to fit into a suitcase so they can be stored flat and are easily transported. It is a brilliant idea.

I think it is very good for creativity to take part in such challenges. You can interpret the subject of the challenge in any way you chose as long as the size is correct. You can use any techniques you like as long as it conforms to the accepted idea of being a quilt.  You can use any colour you want; you can use any types of fabric. A challenge requires a lot of thought to come up with an idea. Doodling is an essential part of the process so that you can start to form and interpret your ideas and drawing skills are required to draft a master pattern to the size of the wall hanging.  And then comes my favourite part; working out how to interpret the master pattern and the choosing and auditioning of fabrics.  A challenge is what it should be, effort has to be applied and skills developed; it’s a chance to work outside the box and go where you imagination leads you … what’s not to like?!

And so how am I going to interpret the theme of ‘Remembrance’? I suppose the timing of the challenge coincides with the Centennial last year of World War 1. Poppies are an obvious theme but way too obvious to me. After much thought, I decided to use the exercise to pay homage to my Great Grandfather, William Owen.

                                  William Owen

In 2008, our extended family were part of the centennial celebrations of what was described as ‘one of Wales’ most courageous sea rescues’ off the coast of Holyhead in 1908. A postcard was produced for the occasion.

                                         Celebratory postcard

My Great Grandfather was the Coxswain of the lifeboat ‘The Duke of Northumberland’ which went to the aid of the stricken Liverpool steamer SS Harold in gale force winds and violent seas. They battled for 2 hours to rescue all 9 crew members and their valiant efforts earned them 11 gallantry medals. My Great Grandfather, as coxswain, was awarded an RNLI gold medal and a Royal Humane Society Medal. He already had an RLNI Silver Medal for an earlier rescue. This well-documented story is what I will interpret over the next few weeks and you can follow my progress here.

                                           Waste bin

 You only have to look in my waste bin to know that something is afoot! For light relief this week, I started to make a throw for my daughter to cover her newly cleaned settee. She has chosen bright colours in reds, oranges, yellows and green and when you find a fabric that says it all, you have no excuse but to get started.

                                  The just-right fabric

The only trouble is that there is only 1 1/2yds of this just-right fabric and no more available so I have had to add another similar fabric.

                                       Similar fabric
It started as a simple scrappy nine-patch on point with the just-right fabric on the corners.

                                     9-patch on point

Then it developed into 2 alternating blocks.
                                                  2 blocks

And you just have to look at my craft room to witness the organised chaos in which I work creatively. Just lovely isn’t it? Makes you want to be in there doesn’t it? and that’s where I’m going now!

                                        Work in progress

Sunday, 11 January 2015

BLOG 230

BLOG 230 January 11th 2015


This past week I have continued to work fairly steadily, happily putting in time on some projects that needed attention. A mini quilt is required for a block that I am doing for competition so, because I have been working with fusible, synthetics, sheers and a soldering iron, I decided to use this method. You will see that I have formalised the squares to make them look like a sampler quilt. I have yet to do the soldering.

                                         Sampler quilt

                                                Detail 1

                                                    Detail 2

I needed to finish the exhibition piece for Region 13 of the Quilters’ Guild so I can hand it over to the organisers at Gresford on Tuesday; this wall hanging will hang in Quiltfest in Llangollen next month. I have made several ‘techni-labels’ now and I am attaching them to the ready quilted surface with embroidery thread. The ‘techni-labels’ below show stained glass, shadow quilting and a texture surface (roving, scrim, Angelina fibres and thread). I think I need one or two more labels to complete this piece, as well as a 4” sleeve on the back, and perhaps some writing too.


                       Region 13 Wall hanging

Another piece of work has been resurrected from the depth s of the craft room. It is the calendar quilt that I put it away in disgust last autumn because I had fused and soldered a motif on the wrong corner of the block. I have now removed part of the motif (second block down on RS) and I need to see if I have the same fabrics to affect a repair.

                                        Before repair

                                        After repair

                             Thread flowers

On paper, I have roughly drafted a couple of layouts to see which I prefer. I think the one on the RS is winning at the moment. This choice will influence where I position the thread flowers and where I sew and solder the detailed corners.

                           Possible layouts

 I hope you have a good sewing week yourselves; why don’t you send me a picture of what you have been doing. It’s good to share.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

BLOG 229

BLOG 229 JANUARY 4th 2015



January 1st usually brings on the urge for a fresh start but for us it is still a day for celebration because it is the birthday of our eldest daughter, Tamana (named after one of the Gilbert Islands where I did VSO). She is 39 this year which gives me a gentle reminder that time is ticking on.

January 2nd in this household is ‘Getting back to Normal’ day. All the Christmas stuff comes down; it is carefully and methodically packed away into several large plastic storage boxes and they are all returned to the loft. But I couldn’t let this chore go without one more laugh at Roger in his turkey onesie!! We have howled our way through the Christmas festivities whenever he has worn it and, at half-price for £7, this was by far the best buy of the season!! It was not a statement of sartorial elegance however as you can see from the picture below.





I have done precious little sewing for the past 2 weeks, thus giving myself a complete break from creative activities. So now I have to hit the ground running with deadlines rapidly approaching for 2 exhibition pieces. These are required for ‘Quiltfest’, an exhibition which is held in February in Llangollen each year; one is an A4 piece for the Contemporary quilt group and the other is 16” x 24” piece on the theme of ‘I like Region 13 because…..’

My A4 piece is inspired by the work of Susan Lenz which I have been trying out lately and I have shown the method in previous blogs. Here are the steps in pictures.

                                       Painted fusible x 2

                                        Fusible onto felt

                                             Fused synthetics

                                 Rectangles on felt

                                          More detail

                              Fusible over the shapes

                                  Sheers to co-ordinate
                                 Sheers on fused surface

                                       Surface stitchery

                                                Detail 1

                                                  Detail 2

                                       After soldering

                                                   Detail 1

 Detail 2

 This piece is now complete thankfully. It is so good to be blogging again and therefore being creative so I have something to post; you can’t have one without the other. And just as an afterthought, this post probably took you a couple of minutes to read but it represents a several hours of my creative time. I hope you have enjoyed it.