Sunday, 26 March 2017

BLOG 340

BLOG 340

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Spring!



The clocks have gone forward, the days are lengthening … and the weeds in the garden are starting to flourish! So now my time has to be divided between the delicacy and joy of sewing and solid hard graft of outdoor work. When the weather is fine and sunny that is no problem as I like to be outdoors but this seasonal split in commitments means that my time has suddenly become more precious. I hope I can resist the lure of Spider Solitaire!

After the ‘reverse sewing’ on the Delectable Mountain wall hanging last week, I have sewn it together correctly this time and it has been steam ironed, on the back first to settle the seams and then on the front to get rid of any tucks in the seams. I need to hang it up now so I can see it whenever I am in the room and I can make a decision about what I am going to do with it next.

            Iron on WS

            Iron on RS

            Completed top

The ‘Sharer of the Grandchildren’ is the agent for the Linus quilts in the N Wales area so I have promised another 6 quilts for the cause (I have already made 6 for the Chester region) which will be done over an undefined period of time. I purchased a panel with coloured circles printed on a black background for the first quilt top. I cut them up into individual squares and chose some suitable fabrics to border them. Then I used simple construction methods to produce a striking top. One down, 5 to go!

              Blocks and borders

                 Bordered blocks


        Completed top

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

BLOG 339

BLOG 339

I had such a busy week last week. We met up with Pacific Island friends in the Lake District and had a couple of nights in a hotel in Ings. There were 4 couples in total and we are bound together by our history on the island of Tarawa. We all lived and worked there and socialised together and, quite remarkably, we all got married out there too. Two couple have celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary and 2 couples are about to. In this day and age that it quite an accomplishment!

Another busy period then followed over the WE when the grandchildren were in residence. My daughter was 50 on the first day of spring and they had a lovely and lively weekend in London to celebrate. The weather here was continually cold and wet so all I can say is thank goodness for soft play centres and the Ice Cream farm in Cheshire!!

So here I am, a few days late, playing catch-up! I had a day at Suzette’s last week and that is about the only time where I feel I can sit and sew all day. There is no phone to answer, no washing up to do or washing to hang on the line. It is a day of pure indulgence and I can sew whatever I want. Because I am surrounded by machine embroiderers, I like to use thread, shears, dissolvable layers etc. Here’s the start of a sunflower project; it is a flower I adore.


The sheers were trapped between 2 dissolvable layers, but these were not as stiff as the ones I used for the bowl. I then started to scribble and paint with thread.


            More detail

            In progress

           So far

And here’s a useful tip for you: Sometimes a bit of unpicking, or ‘reverse sewing’ as I like to call it, is necessary. I have to do it quite often and last week I managed to sew the wrong line onto the main body of the Rainbow Delectable Mountain quilt.

            Reverse sewing
To unpick, I usually go along the line of stitches clipping every 4th stitch and then I can just pull the seams apart. That leaves many threads on the surface of the fabric. To harvest them I wrap a piece of masking tape, with sticky side outwards, around my fingers and stick it onto itself. Then I just have to wipe it along the edge of the fabric and it picks up the bits. This is very useful to know.

          Masking tape

       And more

Sunday, 12 March 2017

BLOG 338

BLOG 338

I have thoroughly enjoyed completing the little embroidered bowl this week. It is such a change from my usual sewing and there is a lot of freedom for design in pattern and colour with the threads. Machine embroidery is so forgiving as layers can be added on top of any areas that you don’t like!

             Decorative detail

              Detail 2

           Detail 3

           Detail 4

When I was happy that I had done as much detail as I wanted, I trimmed away the excess soluble layers from around the outer edge. The embroidery was then placed into a round flat dish and boiling water was poured over the top. Because I wanted to have quite a rigid bowl, I didn’t want to wash out all of the vanishing medium. I wore rubber gloves to handle the piece and washed away as much as I thought necessary by replacing the hot water. The piece was then put onto an upturned bowl to dry naturally and that is when the colour and beauty of the sheer fabric between the layers of stitches starts to become evident.



            Outside detail

            Inside detail

This is the vanishing medium I use for solid structures like this bowl.

           Vanishing medium

I had a lunch date here with my ‘bestest’ quilting chums and we sometimes have a show and tell of our latest finished pieces. Gwenda had made a quilt for her granddaughter, a beautiful batik star in graded colours. These fabrics were chosen over the phone by Gwenda when her family were holidaying in Florida, thus illustrating the power and effectiveness of modern technology!  It shows the sunset, sky, reef and sea. Just lovely!

            Gwenda’s quilt

           Border detail



Sunday, 5 March 2017

BLOG 337

BLOG 337

If you have been following my blog you will know that I have been playing with an old favourite block, namely Delectable Mountain.  This is the wall hanging I made some time ago to enhance the d├ęcor in a bedroom.

            Bedroom wall hanging

This week I have continued to sew more colourful blocks to make another such wall hanging. As I made a block, I laid it on the carpet by the sewing machine table (in the absence of a design wall) so that I could try different placements and see the layout developing.

            Layout 1

                Layout 2

I could see a strong diamond pattern developing and decided to run with it. By layout 3 I thought I had finished but then I realised that the tips of the dominant yellow diamond had been cut off. One more row to top and bottom was sewn and the final layout was complete. It needs constructing and quilting now but I am well pleased with the result and it reminds me that fabrics are never too good to use! Storm Doris was to blame for this one!

             Layout 3

             Final layout

Last Monday I had a sewing day with Suzette (one pin Smart!). There is a cosy group of just 4 of us sitting around the table in Suzette’s kitchen and I feel privileged to be there alongside such competent and imaginative sewers. I have yet to break away totally from the years of dogged precision that became second nature to me during my 30 years of quilting. I do try to be freer but it’s hard. Here’s what is going on around me. Peggy has made another fabulous wreath, this time in tropical colours with a humming bird. Pat has embarked on another cockerel with attitude and Suzette is creating another of her signature birds. It’s all wonderful!!

            Peggy’s tropical wreath


               Pat’s cockerel

              Feather detail

           Suzette’s bird

And I am having another go at a machine embroidered bowl, just like Ella did last week. This one will sit beside my sewing machine to collect the threads I discard and, hopefully, it will get me out of the habit of just dropping them on the floor!

             Sheer fragments

              Soluble film


            Decorative detail