Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Blue for a boy, and pink....

Yes, I am really challenging those gender stereotypes with recent projects and gifts!

First up, the Manchester City Quilt for DH. Most of the blocks are pieced and I now have to stitch them together, which may take some time as there are many many points to get right, and any mistakes show up well and truly on this fabric.

However, my accuracy on this quilt has improved tremendously, thanks to following the techniques for cutting and piecing recommended in Harriet Hargrave's Quilter's Academy - a skill-building course in quiltmaking, Volume 1. 

My blocks are nice and flat, they are, nearly all, the right size, and my points are getting pretty good, helped by accurate 1/4" seams all round.

Essentially this comes down to straightening your fabric so that it's on grain, starching it, cutting precisely, and ensuring you are sewing with an accurate 1/4". If using a 1/4" foot with a guide, because these feet aren't always exactly 1/4", Harriet suggests using Presencia 60/3 wt thread, which is finer than Aurifil 50 wt, which I also love to use for piecing, but just as strong. The fineness of the thread ensures a flatter seam. I sourced this in the U.K. on-line at The Cotton Patch.

Pressing is vital - set the seam first, then press to one side using a light misting of starch. From the bit of research I've done, quilters seem to be starchers or non-starchers, with Mary Ellen's Best Press a favourite with many. However, I found a home-made recipe using cornflour  on Diane Gaudynski's blog she has a link on the right side bar. This works a treat is is much cheaper!

I have been so impressed with my results that one of my challenges for 2014 is to begin to work through the projects in Harriet Hargrave's series of books. This fits perfectly with my philosophy of slow quilting, whether by hand or machine, working on the skills and craft of quilting, while enjoying the process and the learning. There is far too much emphasis out there on doing things fast and furious. 

Also on a blue theme, a sashiko pin cushion made in a taster workshop last Saturday morning...sitting hand quilting these beautiful patterns was a delight. 

 Pink for the girls - a Nook cover for SIL for Christmas,

 Pink yarn (Isagar Tvinni from Denmark) to make this Beginner's Lace Shawl from this free pattern on London knitting shop Loop's  blog,

And on a plainer note, a wool scarf  for DH, knitted by yours truly from British Sheep Wool,

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone, and enjoy the art of slow stitchery.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas crafts and sewing

I spent a lovely few days on some Christmas crafts and sewing and decorating. 

A wreath for the front door made from the garden from conifer, hydrangea and sedum,

Some decorations on the kitchen dresser,

 My big Christmas bunting in the hall, with some holly berry lights,

And old wooden Santa who greets Christmas visitors,

 A cross stitch Father Christmas, originally stitched by me for my Mum, who passed in 2009, has pride of place on the mantle-piece,

And these beautiful tree decorations made by a woman from my Embroidery Guild who is just brilliant at tatting. Thank you, Serena!

I hope you are enjoying some slow Christmas stitching  : - )

Friday, 6 December 2013

Handmade ceramic button givaway


Not to be missed! Catherine over at PotterJotter blog has a fabulous giveaway of her beautiful hand crafted ceramic buttons. A real treat for crafters and knitters or for those of us who make patchwork bags. 

And while your'e there check out her other work. She makes gorgeous ceramic bowls inspired by well known patchwork blocks and patterns. These would make great Christmas gifts for fellow crafters or quilters. Or treat yourself. Definitely on my own wish list!

Good luck!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Some 2013 finishes...and a new challenge

I have finally finished the Foxglove Fancy Quilt which was started in a stack and whack class a few months ago. I quilted it in straight lines using a YLI 40 wt variegated thread which performed well, mirroring the hexagon shapes in the solid corners. A lesson learned is not to quilt the borders in straight lines unless you know the quilt is good and square, and while I wasn't too far off in this respect, the floral fabric hides any slight skewed lines well!

 And my new challenge for 2014 is to try my hand at lace knitting.I am not an experience knitter, but have done scarves and bags and even a pair of socks once, but have always liked the idea of knitting lace shawls. I have started a practice piece seen here, 

and have asked Santa for this gorgeous book by Elizabeth Lovick to help me in my new endeavours. The shawls on the cover may look daunting, but reviews assure me she covers all the basics for begiiner lace knitters.

Meanwhile, work has begun in earnest on the Manchester City Football quilt for DH. More of that in a later post.

And I paper pieced a Christmas Card for my local Embroiderers' Guild. We each had to make a 'secret santa' card in a technique of our own choosing.

So, all in all, a very productive week! 

Linking up with Brit Sewing Thursday. Happy stitching!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Wintergreen - some Christmas sewing

I may have been a bit quiet of late, but I have been stitching!  This table runner is pieced from the Wintergreen charm square collection by Moda. It is a very traditional look but that's what I wanted.

Because I am focusing on learning accurate piecing, working with charm squares was quite a challenge as they are not consistently 5" squares. They have their advantages in that you get lovely collections but I think I will avoid them in the future unless the project calls for smaller units which could then be cut accurately from the charm squares.

I also made some BIG bunting and enjoyed it very much so I have fabric to make some small bunting to hang from the mantelpiece at Christmas. 

I have also finished quilting Foxglove Fancy and will post pics when I have sewn down the binding. An expensive buy at Harrogate was a 1/4" dual feed foot for my Janome Horizon But it made for very accurate machine stitching of the binding on the tablerunner and on the Foxglove quilt, and really helped with sewing the mitred corners.

Projects in the pipeline are a pin cushion and tidy for me to have by my sewing machine, and a Nook cover for my SIL. 

And last, but by no means least, an early Christmas present from my big brother...a Gidget II sewing table which allows me to quilt at table level with Big Daisy!  A real treat.

Linking up with Brit Sewing Thursday. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Foxglove Fancy...the quilting begins

Over the last week I have started machine quilting the quilt I made in the stack and whack class a few weeks ago? I quilted in the ditch and now have begun to add more straight lines - not quite ready to tackle free motion yet on a big project. However the hexagon design does lend itself to straight lines and I am trying to mirror the angles and lines of these.

Here is a sneak preview

I have also been tempted by the new Downton Abbey Collection from Andover: I only bought a charm pack which I plan to use as part of a sewing machine cover. It's very lovely -

 Joining in today with Brit Sewing Thursday linky party.
 Happy stitching!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Seeing red at the Quilt Museum, York

I spent a fabulous day last Saturday at the Quilt Museum in York  for a one day workshop designed as an introduction to quilt based research. The session was led by Isabel Dibden Wright and curator, Heather Audin. I went along because I have always enjoyed reading and learning about textile history through books and museum visits and this was an opportunity to find out how to go about studying quilts in a bit more detail. 

There are many reasons to do this - out of personal interest, to inform your own quilt making, an interest in women's and social history, and perhaps to share your findings in a magazine or journal article.  Quilt history in Britain is a far less explored area than in the USA, so there is lot of scope to find out more. Isabel took us through how to approach the study of quilts, the available resources and information and Heather explained the etiquette in approaching museums and galleries where quilt collections are held.

Then on to the practical side: we were able to choose to examine close up and handle some items from the Guild's collection or to look more closely, without touching, one of the quilts in the current exhibition, "It's All in the Making - patchwork and quilting unpicked" by the British Quilt Study Group.

I chose to look at this quilt on display as part of the exhibition, for two reasons: I am always very attracted to this 'frame' style of quilt,  and would love to reproduce one, and the central square and border are Turkey Red fabric, in which I have developed a personal interest following an interesting family history connection. 

 'Copyright of The Quilters' Guild of the British

Turkey Red is a particular process for dyeing cloth and yarn and one of the main industries 

for producing Turkey Red fabric was based in the Vale of Leven, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, where my mother came from. When I went up to Scotland this May to see the Loch Lomond Quilt Show, we took the opportunity to do some family history research and discovered that my grandparents and other family members worked in the dye works in the Vale of Leven. Further research has led me to a wonderful project Colouring the Nation - Turkey Red and other Decorative Textiles in Scotland's Culture, by National Museums Scotland: the project's blog has links to a whole host of related resources.

The purpose of examining the quilt closely was to highlight what can be learned by careful observation. The information board told me that this Frame Quilt, maker unknown, dated from 1865 - 1875. It measures is 68" x 55", is cotton hand pieced and quilted with a chevron or zig zag design commonly found in NW England, S. Scotland  and Northern Ireland.

I then made some sketches and notes: the Turkey Red centre was a beautiful large paisley design, and is framed by nine borders. I won't go into detail here, but it was interesting that the more I looked at the quilt! the more I saw. Even some of the small squares on point and half square triangles had themselves been pieced together, in one case, from six separate little pieces of fabric. The colour scheme and matching of pieces was clearly thought out, but the maker had to make do in some areas with mis-matching border fabric, no doubt because this was meant to be a quilt for everyday use and she had to use up all her scraps.

All in all, a fascinating introduction in how to study and enjoy quilts. The Guild run these workshops every so often so do keep an eye out on their website if you are interested.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Little Red Rooster

A few of my stitching friends have been making a rooster using whatever technique we like, embroidery, goldwork, or in my case, applique. It is based on a design from the April/May edition of the Embroiderers' Guild Stitch magazine. I fussy cut some scraps from my stash which I think has worked quite well. At the moment he is just fixed with bondaweb. I'm going to use him as an experiment in machine applique  with Big Daisy, my new Janome Horizon, so I can try out some of the embroidery stitches. I think he'll become a little mini quilt.

Meanwhile I have finished piecing my Hexagon quilt, Foxglove Fancy, made in a recent stack and whack class. Pictures to be posted soon. And I continue to work on piecing the Windmill many points to match!

Joining in today with the Slow Blogging Linky

Knotted Cotton

Friday, 11 October 2013

Mood Indigo Log Cabin

I'm a bit delayed in joining the Linky Party this week because I hosted a Sew-In at my house yesterday, which involved lots of stitching, chatting, and of course, a 'crafternoon' tea and cake.

In a  distinct change of mood from the colour scheme of the Medallion Star quilt  and the more modern fabrics of the Windmill quilt I am putting together a small lap quilt or possibly a walll hanging, made from a Kasuri layer cake by Moda.

The Kasuri collection, as the name suggests, is range of fabric inspired by Japanese textiles, and is very reminiscent of the fabrics used to create 'Boro' clothing which was put together from fragments and rags, and 'Bodoko' (meaning 'life-cloth'). You can see some pictures and learn more about these on the website of the Amuse Museum in Tokyo. 

I did a bit of web research about quilt patterns for layer cakes and eventually hit upon how to cut up a layer cake to create a log cabin block measuring 8.5 inches. This brilliant method comes from Trish at  www.notesofsincerity.blogspot

There is little room for error in this method, so I carefully cut the layer cakes into the required number of strips, and kept all the same size together

Each block is made up of one each of these strips, and  I kept the plain indigo as the centre of each one

Then sewed each block together,

Now I need to decide on the final layout and borders and backing.

Have a good sewing week!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Never ending or beginning...

After cutting out and pressing 256 half square triangles for the Windmill Quilt pattern from Moda Bakeshop, my mind is certainly spinning round in circles!  And then I had to trim each one to exactly 4.5" square.

First each patterned layer cake was sewn across a marked diagonal to a Kona solid 'snow' layer cake right sides facing. i also marked the vertical and horizontal lines ready for accurate cutting

Which, when cut,  produced  half square triangles

Of which there were 256 !!

Which then had to trimmed to exactly 4.5 " which took ages,

I then matched pairs together and have begun to join them to make the main blocks

Which was when I realised that every little 4.5" block had a pint to match up!  So I took my time, which I like to do anyway....I'm all for slow stitching, by hand or machine.....and used this opportunity to practise pinning and matching points, and haven't done too badly so far. The method I use is to insert a very thin 'anchoring' pin at a 90 degree angle to the fabric and then come in low with another pin making sure the point of this comes out at the point you inserted the anchoring pin, ensuring you know where the point is when you sew the seam.

And a happy by-product of this project was some spare layer cake squares which I  used to make a nice fat, heavy  pin cushion filled with rice and tied with embroidery thread. 

And it's Brit Sewing Thursday too!