Sunday, 28 January 2018

BLOG 381

BLOG 381
January is slipping away and the days are starting to lengthen so there is a lovely feeling of warm hope that we are emerging from the gloom of winter. The snow drops are out in force and the daffodils are poking their snake-like heads above the soil. I’m sure there will be more bad weather to come but that extra hour of daylight is just enough to raise the spirits. Another way of raising spirits is to immerse yourself in fabric, particularly those in the warm range of the colour wheel! Katie’s wall hanging is such a project and I have romped on with it this week. Whereas Ella is unquestionably a multi-coloured sort of girl, Katie is definitely pinks and purples. So I added the short borders top and bottom and the longer side borders next, trimmed them and then used a darker strip to join and bind. Job done!

                Short borders 

                  Long borders 
           Finished hanging

 One of my flower vase quilts has hung for years in a huge frame above the fire place but we noticed this week that the frame was starting to come apart. This meant that I was able to liberate the quilt from the frame so, now that it is no longer behind glass, I can enjoy the colours, texture and detail of it again. It was made from ready-fused batiks which were cut using either a fluted or a pinked rotary cutter or pinking shears. And because it was made of such small pieces, I had to use plenty of stitch to hold them down, to add texture and to enhance the detail. It is always nice to revisit a piece of work and it makes me question why I have left this way of working behind. It was a method that I developed a few years ago but there must be more scope for development??? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps!

                Flower vases

             Detail 1

                Detail 2 

            Detail 3

                  Detail 4

               Detail 5

Sunday, 21 January 2018

BLOG 380

Blog 380
It has been a week of intense soldering, cord making and lacing in order to get my wall hanging ready for Llangollen. I feel as though I have been wearing my respirator permanently and I have grooves on my cheeks to prove it! Still better to be safe than sorry; those fumes from soldering are very toxic!

              Detail 1

                 Detail 2 

              Detail 3 
I ran a line of cording round the outside edge to complete it (and not before time). I am delighted with the result and now I know what I am doing, I think I want to make another one straight away to reinforce the learned process in my mind and hands. BTW: The name remained as ‘Contemporary Welsh’ in the absence of anything better!

               Contemporary Welsh 
               Hanging sleeve 

I did a bit of a catch-up on my daily squares. These are mounting up nicely but I need to purchase some more pelmet Vilene to back them before I can sew around the cut edges. Or perhaps I will use heavy interfacing, just to add some body. As I don’t know what I am going to do with them yet, it’s hard to make any decisions at this stage.

                 Daily squares
And just take a look at these fabric squares. They are drawings made by one of my granddaughters when she was nearly 3 1/2. I asked her to draw things that made her happy on paper using fabric transfer crayons. Predictably she chose the following: Mum, Dad, sister, herself, house, rainbow, a flower and, my favourite, a bee! I am about to border them with a bright fabric to make a small wall hanging capturing ‘a moment in time’.

              Katie’s drawings

                       My favourite 




Sunday, 14 January 2018

BLOG 379

BLOG 379
I have had a busy week settling back into routine again; the routine of attending the weekly craft clubs, sewing sessions with chums, meal planning, and grocery shopping and bog standard normal everyday things. And isn’t it comforting to have a structure to the week again? I pretty well know what day of the week it is now and the unpleasant pressures of commercialism that attend the festive season have thankfully disappeared. This time of the year is my most creative period. The days are cold and short, meaning that I don’t have to get out into the garden, and the evenings are warm and long giving me plenty of space to do what I love doing the best.

That said, I am immediately under pressure to finish my Contemporary Welsh wall hanging for the Llangollen exhibition next month. This pressure sharply focuses my mind and I have spent most of this week wearing a respirator making marks and burning with a soldering iron. I just love this process so going out into the freezing cold garage for the evening isn’t hard. I dress warmly in layers and probably chunter somewhat to’ himself’ but I go happily and willingly. I have a large glass-topped light box in there and I need to work on a glass surface with the soldering iron so it is ideal. The smell generated by burning synthetics is vile so again the garage is an ideal place to be. Once I am immersed in my creative world, the cold just doesn’t exist anymore; nothing does.

              Light box


              Centre square

             Detail 1

              In process

                    Detail 2

                Detail 3

                  Detail 4

I decided some time ago that I was going to lace the squares together  somehow which is why I have been burning holes at ½” intervals round the edges of each section. I looked at the coloured threads I had in stock but saw that there was nothing I had a lot of which was appropriate for the task. So I had to set about and make some cord. I used 5 skeins of embroidery thread and twisted them under the foot of my machine whilst sewing a zigzag with multi-coloured thread over the top. I used a large needle (bought for Italian quilting) to start to lace the sections together. This is exciting and I love this piece of work!! It should be finished this week unless any unforeseen problems crop up!!



               Embroidery threads



              Italian quilting needle

                In progress

Sunday, 7 January 2018

BLOG 378

BLOG 378
I have had a pretty decent tidy up of both my studio in the garage and the loft room where I sew. There is still much more to do as per usual but I have done sufficient that I can see the cupboard tops and I know where most of my ‘stuff’ is. One day, I will enter the rooms in a more thorough frame of mind and have a really, really, really good sort out, getting rid of all the superfluous items I don’t need any more. I have already done this around the house resulting in 5 black bin liners going to the charity shops already. ‘Keep life simple’ is my motto for this year.

This week, I have been catching up on my daily squares. These are 4” ready-fused squares of batik with a motif on top. I am using a positive/negative method so that nothing is wasted. The shape that is cut out (e.g. heart) is stuck onto another 4” square (positive applique) and the square with the hole cut out is backed by another 4” square (negative or reverse applique). This means that for 3 squares you end up with 2 appliques. I am using simple applique motifs: hearts, leaves, bare tree, Xmas tree etc. and changing them often for visual variety.

                Daily squares


                 Motifs 1
             Motifs 2

               Neg/pos motifs

               With backgrounds
Hint: use a pin to score the paper backing of the fusible to make it easier to remove.

                Score with pin 

The motif is traced onto a 4” square of fusible and ironed onto a 4” square of batik. It is cut out accurately along the lines drawn on the paper backing. A rotary cutter is used on the line to start the cutting so that you don’t have to poke the scissors into the fabric.

Step 1 Place the negative square, with the paper still in place, over a background square. Take the paper off the cut-out motif.

Step 2 Place the cut-out motif back in position and use the toe of an iron to lightly stick it in place.

Step 3 Remove the negative square to leave the motif in position on the background (positive) and press thoroughly. Remove the paper from the negative square and stick it onto another background square to complete the two appliques.

             Step 1

               Step 2

                Step 3

                 Ironed squares

During one of the holiday sleep-overs we had a modest fall of snow. In the absence of a sledge, we devised a new sport: that of ‘bag dragging’. Grandad was the coolest man alive for a short while!!

             Bag dragging