Sunday, 31 May 2015

BLOG 250

BLOG 250

I have now collected my quilts from the Ucheldre Centre at the end of my exhibition and I was very pleased with the sales. As well as a couple from the ‘Burning Issues’ series, I sold the following pieces:

                                                                    Horse in a wall

                              Gentiana Alpina and Flower Arrangement

                           Tree of Life




 In between precious time spent in the garden, I have continued to get sale items ready for Gresford and the lampshades are mounting up. What I have found amazing is how the patterns are all coming back to me; it is as if they have been waiting at my finger-tips (I couldn’t find the pattern book I wrote!) I must have made so many of them over a 5 year period, thirty+ years ago, that the patterns are second nature to me! There are lots of happy memories surfacing from that phase in my life so many thanks to my sister for storing and then passing on the shades and the dishcloth cotton after all this time!!!  A potter in Dorset used to make ceramic bases, and beads to match, for me when I was selling at full tilt and I have found a bag of these beads which I am now using to add variety to my collection. Here is an over-view of how I do it: I make a square with a bead in the centre and create a flower around it, squaring it off to make it easier to join together.


I make 4 squares and join them together using double crochets. The final edges are then joined to make a circle.

                                                               4 squares

                                                           Double crochets

After adding a couple of rows of double crochets to the top and bottom edges, the cover is slipped over the lampshade and double crochets are used to attach it onto the frame. The ends are all sewn in and the result looks neat and tidy. These shades are all made from dishcloth cotton attached onto a plastic coated frame, so they are washable if necessary. I used to dunk mine into warm soapy water, swish it about a bit, rinse and hang on a line to dry in sunshine.

                                          Floral lampshade

Sunday, 24 May 2015

BLOG 249

BLOG 249

My exhibition still continues in Holyhead and I miss the String of Diamonds quilt which is usually on my bed. But another favourite has taken its place in the meantime, Hexagon Garden.  Kate Spencer helped me make this wonderful quilt. She prepared the hexagons, it’s what she loves doing above all else, and then she put the top together at my suggestion, with pale flowers and light green pathways in the centre, working out to dark flowers and dark green pathways around the edge. I appliqued the dark flora green border around the edge and then machine quilted the whole quilt. I think it is good sometimes to be reminded of a different way to set hexagons in a quilt, especially as there has been a resurgence of interest in English paper piecing lately. I love this quilt!

                                     Hexagon Garden

                                                                 Detail 1

                                                              Detail 2

The Gresford show takes place next month and so much of my energy these days is spent making things for the sales table. This is my main opportunity each year to sell my wares, to finish projects and put a price on them or to make new items for sale. The prices are usually reasonable because I don’t want to bring things home again! My main focus this week has been to make crocheted lampshades. My sister has been storing some lampshades and dishcloth cotton in her loft from my life before I became a quilter, when I was Shades of Dorset! There are 6 large and 6 medium frames and I use 2 balls of dishcloth cotton together to give a chunky effect. I have started to cover them with the aim of putting them on the sales table. I have been amazed that after 31 years, crocheting has become second nature to me again. These shades look lovely when lit up.

                                             Crocheted lampshades

                                 With light

 And now I have a cautionary tale. A few years ago, I made a patchwork quilt to drape over the back of a settee; the block was called Kansas Troubles and I chose terracotta fabrics of the same medium/dark value. One however was a Bali-type fabric of dubious origin and I remember it being particularly limp to the feel but I used it because the value was right. Now, most of the colour has seeped out of this fabric wherever it appears in the quilt and I am so disappointed, especially as all the rest of the fabrics have retained their strength of colour. There is nothing I can do about it but I can only imagine it is going to get lighter and lighter over the years and stick out like a sore thumb. So the moral of this story is to make sure you use the best fabrics you can afford, it’s worth it in the long run!

                                                    Kansas Troubles

                                                                 Faded fabric



Sunday, 17 May 2015

BLOG 248

BLOG 248

I did get to sew with my friends last Monday but, unusually for me, I slept in so I had no chance of getting anything together for my scribble drawing experiment before I went. So armed with just a sewing machine and a heap colourful scraps I decided to have a patchwork day instead of a thread day.  I joined strips (no longer than 8”) together at right angles to one another to make several long lines.

                                                    Heap of strips

 I trimmed the joins, ironed the seams and then cut them into 10 ½” strips. I joined these strips together just making sure no colours were duplicated in adjacent rows.

                                                      Joining the strips

 After I had made 6, I began to wonder what multiple blocks would look like (a migraine, a stained glass, a car crash!!) and whether the effort was going to be worth it. Here are two layouts for the blocks.

                                                         Side by side

                                                 Alternating blocks

 ….. And that’s as far as I got because I then fell fowl of a chest infection. I have never had one before and it absolutely floored me. (Well it settee’d me actually because I spent the next 3 days on the sofa.) Even now, after 6 days, I am still delicate with none of my usual energy. If I start to cough it is so painful.  I think it is going to take a lot of shifting. So to pad out this blog, let me show you what I have done with my quilts in the hallway.

                                    Y Gorlan hallway

                                           Display 1

                                               Display 2

                                             Display 3


Sunday, 10 May 2015

BLOG 247

BLOG 247

Refreshed after a lovely week on the island of Menorca, I have just ventured into my studio for the first time. As I always do a grand tidy up before I go away, (clearing the surfaces, putting things back to where they belong, throwing out ‘surplus to requirement’ stuff), it was all clean and tidy and a pleasure to be in there. Not much sewing has been done so far as you can imagine as holiday washing had to come first, but that is all ironed and aired and now I am chomping at the bit to get going. I have been toying with the idea of making another quilt for  my in-a-wall series and here is the potential starting point (with a bit more work) for ‘fish-in-a-wall’.

                                                        Fish doodle

 I am always drawing on holiday, for my own interest and not for public viewing, and I have started to become quite intrigued with scribble drawing. I actually draw small circles over and over again, increasing the pressure on the pencil for darker shading. In the back of my mind I am wondering if I can do this in layers of thread, definitely food for thought ….. And then I looked on Google and what a diversity of inspiration there is there. Here is a humble sample of my drawing; I have a long way to go! But as I am fond of saying, you don’t get good at something by not trying it! I join friends tomorrow for a day’s sewing, so I may give it a whirl.

                                                           Scribble drawing 1

 Looking back in my sketch book, I see that I also tried it on a flight last year after visiting the Yellowstone National Park, hence the subject matter.

                                              Scribble drawing 2

 Desperate to sew however, I have put some more thought into the colourful quilt block that I sampled before I went on holiday. I intend to continue with this as a ‘quilt-as-you-go’ project just to get rid of my heaps of colourful scraps. So with enthusiasm, I put the block onto batting and backing and pinned the layers together.

                                                         Pinned layers

I chose 2 multi-coloured threads, one for the top and a different one for the bobbin. I sewed a stabilising row of stitches around the outside edge of the block 1/8” in to keep the layers stable.

                                             Multi-coloured threads

And before I knew it, I had quilted the sample block with a favourite free-motion design.

                                                 Quilted block front


The squares of backing fabrics will be cut from colourful fabric also. So I’m working with colour again and this makes me happy so all is well with my world. I hope to make some progress with this project in the next few weeks so watch this space.

                                                       Quilted block back