Sunday, 19 May 2019

BLOG 444

Blog 444
Back home again and isn’t that just the best part of being away! We had a marvellous time in China and made some lovely friends. Three days in an extremely busy Hong Kong was followed by a two week tour courtesy of Wendy Wu. It is the only way to get the most out of China and this is what we did:
*Flight to Shanghai and stayed in a hotel which had been built as a football stadium for the Olympics, and in one day we visited an ancient garden, a silk museum, travelled at 268mph on the Maglev train, went up the tallest building, ate 2 Chinese banquets and did a river cruise to see the city lights!

*Flight to Wuhan to join our boat ‘Victoria Katarina’ for a 4-day cruise along the Yangtze which included exploring smaller gorges, the Three Gorges Dam project and The Jade Emperor. On board there was different entertainment, a demonstration of the game Mahjong, painting the inside of small bottles etc.
*Coach to Chengdu via a street market at Ciqikou famous for its porcelain, a visit to a tea room followed by a performance of ancient theatre acts (loved the Sichuan mask changing!), the Panda Conservation Research Base, a Tang Dynasty dancing show, the Terracotta Warriors and the ancient city walls.
*Flight to Beijing to visit the Wild Goose Pagoda, the Muslim quarter market, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, a Chinese acrobat show, the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall of China, Jade factory and Summer Palace.
We ate 2 Chinese banquets daily using chop sticks; this was very sociable, and a slow and healthy way of eating. (I thought I was going to starve at first because I couldn’t pick anything up but once I got the hang of it, it was fine!) It was everything we anticipated and then some, an amazing cultural experience of a world so very different from our own. I loved it and feel enriched by it!
          Terracotta Warriors


           The Great Wall (and it was that steep in places)

              Emperor and Empress
Now I am home, I have hit the ground running! I have zigzagged around the black shapes and completed the second silhouetted wall hanging.

             Wall hanging
have layered and quilted the shaded Liberty quilt. I chose the easiest option and sewed a straight line through the middle of the squares in both directions, using a walking foot. This gives the appearance of fragmented squares and it just needs binding now.

            Liberty quilt

              Quilting lines

I have also layered the miniature log cabin quilt but I still don’t know how I am going to quilt it! There is so much intricate work in this quilt that I don’t want to spoil it with unsympathetic texturing/stitch. I will think about it during the coming week!


Saturday, 27 April 2019

BLOG 443

Blog 443
This is just a quick blog today because tomorrow we will be on our way to China! We will be away for 2 ½ weeks, experiencing all the sights, sounds, smells and delights of the Far East. I have wanted to see the Terracotta Army for years and finally, my opportunity has arrived. I just want to be over-whelmed by the scale of the site, by the vast numbers of warriors, and by their intricate detail. We will also see the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Giant Pandas and Beijing and we will cruise the Yangtze River for 3 days. I am so excited!
On the sewing front, I managed to complete the negative image this week and I have made it into a small wall hanging. I used a zigzag stitch around the perimeter black shapes to discourage fraying. Then I added interesting detail with free-motion stitching and black thread.
            Before free-machining

             After free-machining


When I put the black backing fabric on, I cut it so that it as 2 ½” longer than the front. This allowed me to just fold the fabric over at the top to create a sleeve. I had to cut about 1” into the fold so that I could tidy the edges of the sleeve with a small seam allowance. The fold was trapped into the binding and I hand sewed the lower edge to finish it off.

          Hanging sleeve
          Folded side edge
I bound it with a double-folded binding, cut at 1 ¾” and sewn with a very neat ¼” seam allowance. As usual I mitred the corners by making a tuck in the binding which was level with the raw edges. I used a grip to hold the tuck flat when I resumed sewing.

           Corner tuck

           Holding the tuck

            Mitred corner

            Sleeve and rod

Finished, done and dusted! Now I am off for a rejuvenating break for a couple of blogs. See you soon!

Sunday, 21 April 2019

BLOG 442

Blog 442

 At Gresford, a couple of weeks ago, I was given two samples from a furnishing fabric book and asked to make a bag from them. Here’s how I did it.

  Furnishing samples

First, I took a 4” strip off the top of the two samples for the handles.



For each handle, I made 1” fold along the length of the fabric and pressed it towards the middle. I pressed a ½” seam allowance along the other raw edge. I then folded this edge over to lie slightly off centre and to cover the other raw edge. I secured it with pins and used a matching thread to sew a central line along the length to complete the handle. 


       First fold


      Second fold


      Third fold



Central seam
I placed the remaining large pieces RS together and sewed ½” seam around 3 sides, leaving one edge open for the top of the bag. Because the fabric was fraying, I sewed a small zigzag around the edge.


      Bag side seams


       Zigzagged edges

Around the top edge of the bag, I pressed a 1” double seam (fold over 1” and fold over the same again). I measured and pinned the centre point. I then measured 4” on either side of this pin and put in more pins to mark the spot.


     Top edge


       Position of handles
 I placed the handles RS down onto the top edge of the bag so that the raw edges were level with the fold. (The edge of the handle was level with the outer pin.) The first line of stitching around the bag top followed the line of the fold underneath and trapped the handles in place.



 Sewing the top edge
The second line of stitching was along the top edge of the bag and it secured the handles in their position.  


       Securing the handles




With the bag WS outwards, the lower seam was flattened and a line drawn 3” from the point at each end. Sewing on this line shaped the base of the bag. The points were then folded towards the seam and sewn in place to tidy the base.



     Shaping the base


Securing the points


And, Ta Dah, you have a bag to replace the plastic ones dished out at the supermarket!




    One bag

Sunday, 14 April 2019

BLOG 441

Blog 441
I continued to make progress with the dual image silhouette this week. The ‘holes’ needed to be carefully and accurately cut out so I used a rotary cutter to make a small cut on the line to enable me to get my scissors in. I used the pattern to store the bits so that I knew where they had been cut from; it saves all the guess work!

The silhouette was what I wanted to place on the colourful background as a positive image and I found another ready-quilted square to take the cut-out ‘holes’ to make a negative image.

I placed the silhouette on top of the second background and used it as a stencil to help me replace all the ‘holes’ accurately. I used the tip of a small iron to apply enough heat to keep all the ‘holes’ in position, but avoided touching any of the stencil. (NB For this project, I used a fabric that already had a layer of glue sprayed onto the back. Usually I use Bondaweb, in which case I can leave the release paper on the back of the stencil to stop it from sticking, whilst removing the paper from the ‘holes’ to allow them to stick.)

              Using the silhouette
          Replacing the holes 1

              Replacing the holes 2

             Replacing the holes 3

Once all the ‘holes’ had been replaced inside the silhouette, all that remained was for the silhouette to be lifted to reveal the negative image.

          Removing the silhouette
I stuck the silhouette onto the other background and gave them both a good press. I had produced two images from the same piece of black fabric; positive and negative. All I need to do now add some thread work.

            Negative image

            Positive image


BTW: I have been on jury service over the last fortnight … again … and enjoyed the process and formality of it all whilst being slightly daunted over what we were asked to listen to and what we were expected to do as a member of the jury. The first case went according to plan and was pretty much ‘text-book’ in its character. We were all sworn in for our second case and had made a start on listening to the rather gruelling police interview tapes when we broke off for lunch. During lunch our youngest (22) and most glamourous jury member checked her phone only to notice that she had been ‘Facebooked’ by one of the young men in the public gallery (Our names are read out once and only once as we are chosen to serve so he was quick off the mark!) . She reported it right away and there were official comings and goings whilst we had our lunch. When we returned to court we learned that the young man in question had been detained, we were dismissed as a jury and the case would have to be rescheduled months down the line. What a waste of peoples’ time (judge barristers, witnesses, public servants, jury) and public money but doesn’t it just reflect the immediacy and the power of social media.
And this is a cryptic message to make an old school friend laugh:  Matches at Jonkoping!