Putting in the Hours

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There has been no slacking this week in my workshop! I quilted the table linen project in straight-ish lines and loved the texture that the rope added. There were a few problem creases that appeared which prompted me to run over them repeatedly with matchstick lines which I can attest was quite boring. There were 2 old stains on the linen which I should have left alone but I decided to peg it out on the washing line and throw a couple of buckets of water over it. When the quilt dried the stains had spread and multiplied and the quilt would not bend enough to go in the washing machine so I decided to soak it in the bath with some stain remover. While it was under water the central doily went completely blue so I fished it out, dripped it back outside, rinsed it with a watering can and hung it to dry on a farm gate. 

  

I left the two horizontal edges unbound to give them a rustic look but I added binding made from a ripped linen pillowcase to the top and bottom then added lengths of clothes line as an embellishment on all 4 sides. 

The idea is to project a slideshow of images onto the quilt on the theme of “Domestic”. I want to include old photos of women in domestic service, ladies having afternoon tea, cotton pickers, textile weavers, factory workers, makers and crafters. This is proving difficult since people did not own cameras and take selfies in those days and pictures on the internet are rarely copyright free. I want to include as much detail as I can about the subjects, dates, places and photographers. If any blog readers have any pictures the vaguest bit relevant hidden away in photo albums then I would love to include them. I reckon I need at least 60 which would make a slide per second one minute presentation. It would be great to include audio in this project in the future.

The rest of my week was spent on custom quilting a lovely New York Beauty customer quilt. It was entirely stitch-in-the-ditch and curved longarm ruler work which took a while but I am very pleased with how it turned out. 

  

I was sent photos of Beezlebub hanging at Paducah by Mark Caraher and Donna Hartford.  The quilt will now go back to Bonnie in Oklahoma to relax its creases while it waits for its next outing. At least while it’s away I don’t have to store it;)

  

Next week, apart from customer quilts and my usual malarkey, I must get “Domestic” ready to photograph (which means finding at least one good still antique photo) and mark out the DWR with a chalk grid. It is far easier to mark a quilt before it goes on the frame. I will worry about how to get the marks off later because I suspect that this will be another one that can’t go into the washing machine…

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Down A Rabbit Hole

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It can be difficult to get work done during school holidays but I do not really need to entertain my kids much these days. Nell and I went to St Andrews to see a magnificent student production of Sweeney Todd because Freya had been the costume designer. She had sourced authentic Victorian outfits and accessories and we were impressed by what a professional job the whole company had done with the show. We did not get home until 1.30 am so did not feel at all guilty about getting up late the next morning!

I managed to complete 2 simple customer quilts (forgot to take photos) and supervised 2 DIY quilts. I was honoured to make a Golden Wedding cushion for a lovely quilter with failing health. She has been a regular customer over my 10 years as a longarm quilter and it was sad to be told that this will probably be her final project.

The DWR is always on my mind and very soon I will have to tackle some serious marking, once I have a clue how I will quilt it. I have made some very rough notes and I think I am probably (well, not definitely) going to give up on the idea of printed Russian women.

It is the time of year to decide whether to have yet another crack at FOQ’s Fine Art Quilt Masters so I decided to try out something that I had filed under “Ideas”. This has taken me down a new rabbit hole The basic quilt top is old table linens but the quilting is something that I have wondered about since seeing an antique Indonesian rug. It was not made with wadding but with strips of rope – a lot of rope! I ordered 5 metres of soft cotton rope online to see how far it would go and was a little surprised to find that some people use it for Bondage! Luckily, my friend, Mo had a big unwanted reel of piping cord, like old-fashioned clothes-line, although thinner than I originally planned.

The question was how would it be put together? It would be a pain to attach it on the longarm as I would have to keep lifting the quilt top to add the next strip. I experimented with trying to sew each strip on with the domestic machine using a zip or piping foot but it was very awkward and kept puckering up underneath.

 

 

In the end I decided to use a piece of backing fabric and cotton wadding without the quilt top and sew each strip of rope on with the longarm trying to keep the lines as straight as possible, spaced ½” apart. It took most of 2 days to prepare the piped wadding and used up 500ft of rope!! The backing was not pretty because I stitched right through the rope and it wriggled around a bit. The next part of the process will be to use a new backing, more wadding, then the bumpy wadding, lay the linens on top and hope to feel the channels like Braille and stitch in reasonably straight freehand lines. We will just have to see how that pans out. If it works then I plan to add something extra that is still swirling around in in my head;)

Junketting Around

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It’s a jolly good job that I travelled to Norfolk by train to visit family rather than driving the Landy, otherwise I would have come back with so much junk! I was accompanied on this trip by Nella, Fergus and Bumble and we spent so much time raking through vintage, charity or bric-a-brac shops that by the end of the week, even I had seen enough “brocante” to last for quite some time. I could have bought a Cornishware flour crock, yet more chairs or even an antique set of dentistry equipment. In fact, all I actually purchased was a wool beret and a very cheap guitar.

   

The weather was foul over the Easter weekend and our trip to the seaside was very brief since the beach cafe did not cater for dogs. After the sun came out we enjoyed some pleasant riverside strolls and the kids had fun on their grandparents’ bikes on nice flat, empty roads.

Bumble was not in the least bit phased by her train journeys. in fact, she was quite an attraction as Scottie dogs seem to be quite unusual in England. She has now travelled by car, boat and train so she only has a few other modes of transport to try before she can call herself a professional canine tourist.

I was excited to open a couple of packages when I got home. I had won a unicorn quilt kit from Purple Stitches by posting photos of my Fancy Forest creature blocks on Instagram. I was so desperate to sew after a week away that I spent all of Saturday carefully following the instructions to make a Lisa the Unicorn mini quilt. The instructions are really good – I did not muck up at all and she looks great, especially since she has a gold lamé horn;)

 

She will have to wait to be quilted because I currently have 3 customer quilts to do and must get on with the DWR unless I decide to rustle something up for my nemesis competition, the Fine Art Quilt Masters at FOQ…

Sticky Situation

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The Denim Word-Search quilt was sent off to Uttoxeter for the British Quilt and Stitch Village Show, weighing in at just over 5kg! I decided that it did not need blocking again as it is so heavy it will just hang straight down all by itself.

  

I spent a very long time sewing down the skinny orange bias onto the DWR quilt. I tried out various feet and finally decided that Bernina foot 20D was the best as I could easily shift the needle position to get close to the edge of the bias tape. I used Elmer’s Glue to stick it down and pinned it to make sure nothing moved. I used a small paintbrush for the glue which I shoved in my mouth while I wrestled with the pins, resulting in sticky hair – good job it was washable! Being very right handed, I always seem to place the pins facing downhill which makes them difficult to remove as you sew up to them so before sewing began I turned them all up the right way.

It took the good part of a day to unpick any basting stitches that were on show – nothing I do seems to be straightforward. I bought a pair of duckbill scissors to cut away the excess fabric under the DWR and wavy border and after I figured out how to use them was amazed at what a good job they did, not snipping into the quilt underneath at all.

 

Since I am nowhere near ready to start marking the DWR quilt prior to quilting, I decided to complete the giant owls and hedgehogs for the Fancy Forest project. I managed to muddle up the pieces a couple of times but I now have enough creatures, great and small, to put it all together except nothing fits logically. I will have to figure out how to add some sashing and filler blocks which I guess will involve some taxing sums. I will put it into the UFO department until I have time to figure that out.

  

The Easter holidays began with snow showers but I hope it will be more temperate 500 miles south in Norfolk. I am heading off on the train with Bumble and 2 out of 3 kids which will be quite an adventure;)

In A Spin

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The problem of how to cut and sew the DWR quilt borders really got my brain spinning. I kept staring at the fabric and eventually realised that I would only get  10” mitred borders from my 3 metres of navy so I had to come up with Plan B. That was to reserve the navy as the backing then find a wide piece of grey fabric that I use when blocking quilts and bung it in the washing machine with half a dozen packs of blue and green dye and see what transpired. It looked worryingly purple while spinning around but it came out a good-enough dark teal.

Freya was home from Uni for Spring Break so I enlisted her help to draw a 90” chalk square onto the teal background. I wished I owned a tile-laser to get accurate lines and angles. Once the main body of the DWR quilt was centred came the tricky issue of the wavy border. It proved to be too big, even for the 90” square “quilt-top” which I had now had so I had to remove a section on all 4 sides until it could sit roughly 12” away from the main quilt. I can’t tell you how long all this faffing took, pinning into an unwieldy double section of insulation board, balanced on my table to I had to breathe in and shuffle around. The board is so big that I have to turn it to reach all of the sides and this often knocks things over. Eventually I pinned all of the fabric on, typically putting the pins in backwards, making them difficult to remove when I machine sewed it all down temporarily using an extra large stitch.

There is now a Plan C, since it appears that appliqué has come into play. I had to make a lot more ¼” orange bias to go around the wavy borders, as well as the main DWR. I will have such fun sewing all this on then removing the temporary stitches (NOT!)

Fergus is about to have his final lesson with the guitar teacher he has had for the past 9 years. I thought he might like a cushion for his studio so I ordered a thermofax screen of Jimi Hendrix’s head. The cushion cover that I bought was really too big for Jimi’s head, that I had forgotten to enlarge accordingly when I placed my order so I had to hand-cut an acetate stencil to make a border like one of his groovy album covers. I admit I did not think this through – I should have used a spray glue to make the acetate sit flat and used a stencil brush to dab on the paint – the result is definitely a bit rough and ready but Jimi’s head printed with puff paint looks really cool. Maybe I could print a psychedelic duvet cover next…

Freya had a “fake” birthday a week early since she is meeting friends for a holiday in Italy. I made a 4-layer chocolate cake which barely had room for all of the candles. Now that she is a grown-up she just requires sensible presents like holiday money but I decided she should also have her own pepper grinder and a DVD of Paddington 2. I misplaced the DVD inside a quilt that I picked up from the local craft shop and did not find it until I had a brainwave 48 hours later. Never mind, Nella and I can watch it first then post it to Freya for a bit of light relief from all that studying;)

Practice Makes Perfect – Sort of;)

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I was in the unusual situation of not having any customer quilts waiting to be done so I decided to push on with what happens in my DWR borders. They have been keeping me awake at night, as I have trying and failing to figure out how to piece them. I guess I could work out the maths eventually but I think I will have to just cheat and wing it with invisible appliqué since I just don’t have acres of border fabric and I have already spent £150 on the materials for the top alone. I made 4 wiggly pieced borders, turned under the edges and will attempt to put the quilt top together next week. Any printing of iconic Russian women can either be added later or abandoned if necessary. I did a test-run with a paper print of Jimi Hendrix using Modge-Podge but it was a messy disaster so the only way forward will be thermofax screens or linocuts.

  

Since I had some down-time, I took the opportunity to do some practice ruler work on a simple quilt pattern by Iva Steiner that I got from Regina in Germany. I am always telling students to practise while never getting around to it myself. It was a fun project but it made me think that I really should use a much finer thread for back-tracking so I guess I will be placing an order from Madeira for the DWR quilt.

 

I gave a talk for Thistle Quilters in Edinburgh at the weekend and pulled out some quilts that have not seen the light of day for a while. It is always surprising to rediscover what is stored away in boxes. I did not take the Coracle as it is such a bulky item to cart around but I did take a large Totem and Purdah – and a bicycle that I had sold on Ebay! The audience always enjoys my invitation to rummage through the quilts when I give a talk so they can examine the stitching and actually feel the textures of the more unusual fabrics.

Experiments Don’t Pay Bills

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If experimenting paid the bills then I would be unbelievably rich! Let’s just say that I did a lot of thinking and experimenting then feeling guilty for not seeming to be more productive. I think it will be useful – eventually. I spent quite a lot of time on Youtube trying to figure out the best way of printing ghost-like photos onto my DWR’s navy borders. I managed to transfer very faint images using acetate and hand-gel but they disappeared when ironed so that won’t work. I have a couple of other methods to test out before I ditch that idea.

This DWR quilt has led to more angst than I can remember for a while. It’s quite tricky to have a vision but not a pIan – why does this sound familiar?! I finally got the body of it together, not particularly enjoying some Y seams where the squares met. Not being a clever dress-maker, I could not work out how to insert some extra scallops around the edges so I will resort to some painful appliqué involving what seems like 500 miles of bias tape that I have made. I am planning on adding some chains of curved sections in the border somehow so I had to make a trip out to Rainbow Fabrics in Old Meldrum to get some more of the lapis lazuli / malachite blues and greens.

  

 

For so-called light relief I finished the tiny Fancy Forest firefly and 2 other mutant versions. There were a couple of times when I picked up the wrong pieces and had to wriggle my way out of a muddle. After that I made a jacket for a syrup tin for no particularly good reason.

 

I have no customer quilts to do this week so I will try to make good use of my time. I still have a lot to learn about Qmatic and if all else fails and I run out of purposeful activities, I will load an unfinished quilt top and simply do some quilting practice!

Almost Like a Zombie Apocalypse

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I paid attention to the weather forecast and sensibly stocked up on essential groceries before it started snowing. It was very cold and I kept the wood stove stoked all day but it was almost sub-zero out in my workshop. I have seen more snow in my part of the world in past winters but some parts of the UK were badly affected. However, the TV news could hardly have been more sensational if there had been an actual zombie apocalypse. My kids had 3 days off school which they enjoyed, despite the bickering. Bumble was definitely happy to wear her fleecy jumper!

  

I never feel as though I get much work done during a snow week but luckily the power stayed on and I made good progress on a really jolly seaside quilt which received lots of ruler work and whimsical fillers. I even managed to fit in a straightforward flannel quilt, complete with binding.

 

 

When I was not chopping logs and making hot chocolate I worked on the dreaded DWR quilt. Its main issue is that the orange sections are like cardboard. I don’t know why it is freaking me out so much – perhaps the lack of a plan for finishing it with ambitious borders when I originally thought it would just consist of the 9 rings. It is causing me considerable angst! Maybe once the rings are connected I will decide.

 

I bought a Gocco printer from Ebay on a bit of a whim. I want to make my own thermo-fax screens but can’t find an affordable way of getting my hands on a machine and supplies. I have “researched” extensively online and am tempted to get a tattoo stencil machine and some Riso film but I need to know if it would work first. The Gocco is actually a Japanese toy and I hope to try it out as soon as I have an image that contains carbon ink or has been Xeroxed.

I may have to do some serious bread making next week – I could not resist the free offer of a sack of flour from the supermarket. I can only assume that the in-store bakery must have short use-by dates. Maybe it was a goodwill gesture to make up for the lack of fresh veg, bread, and many other empty shelves caused by an apocalyptic event;)

The Trouble with Time Travel

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Knowing that I had a custom quilt job to deal with before I would allow myself to work on my DWR project, I decided to swap Monday and Tuesday around, pretending that I had already made some progress. This idea backfired slightly when I got around to actually checking the measurements on the customer quilt and discovered that it was too small on the back and I would have to buy more fabric to give it wider borders so in the end I did not actually start on it until almost the end of the week.

At least I made progress, albeit rather slow progress on the DWR pieces. I cut all of the melons and pinched squares carefully with sharp scissors then added a stay-stitch around all of their edges to prevent the organza coming unstuck or fraying.

The weird thing was that the small arcs were way too small for the melons. The test block had worked pretty well but after at least 3 undos I knew that I had a problem. It also occurred to me that the melons had absolutely no give. I fiddled with the arcs and worked out that I would have to add an extra wedge to the middle of each arc with ⅛” shaved off each side. If I had attempted something like this even a couple of years ago I would have tossed the entire project away in disgust but I have determined that it will not defeat me – although I have not yet tried to join any melons to any pinched squares so that still might happen!

  

I have been giving some thought on what to do once I have got 9 rings done. I originally planned that would be it but I am aware that a potential show quilt needs more impact like fancy borders. Some DWR quilts are appliquéd onto backgrounds but that would either be too easy or a recipe for disaster. I think I may have to add some half-melons and half squares to to make a quilt with a straight outer edge to which fancy borders might be added. But I dread the thought of cutting out another 1000 or so mini eggs.

One idea that I have been toying with is using Decolourant paste to remove the dye from fabric, leaving a ghost image. I spent quite some time online looking for images of significant historical Russian women and trawling second-hand sites in the vain hope of finding a reasonably priced thermal copier, wondering whether I should invest in a tattoo stencil making machine. There are companies in the UK that make excellent thermofax screens but they are quite expensive and I would love to be able to make my own. I had a go at using decolourant on a photo screen from Freya’s school art project but the effect is not subtle enough so I need to go back to the drawing board.

No wonder a week goes by so quickly here. The customer quilt got started in the end and so far I have the outer borders done and appliqués outlined. BzB has been juried into Paducah and I am thrilled that it is the third of my quilts to have been shown there in the past 10 years. I will be giving a talk at Thistle Quilters in Edinburgh in a couple of weeks so it will be time to revisit some of the show quilts that are packed away and give some of them an airing:)

An Eggsellent Week

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During a week of spells of heavy, wet snow and bright sunshine, my hens laid at least 50% of the time. There was even an unusually white speckled one. I decided that it was time to make lemon curd. I am pretty good at that these days, having made notes to myself in my hand-written recipe book that refer to past disasters and how to avoid them.

  

Much of the half-term week was filled with customer quilts, re-drafting the Fancy Forest blocks so I can make giant animals, and an outing to a junk shop where Nell convinced me that I did not have room for another cheap, beaten-up chest of drawers even though it was a bargain.

  

I listened to Carrie Fisher’s autobiography on Audible while I pieced together the lapis/malachite DWR arcs and by the time I cut out the amber coloured pinched squares I was onto Stephen Fry’s “Mythos” but I had to pay close attention to the complicated relationships between all of the Greek gods. I fused some of the 1500-odd egg shaped pieces of “amber” onto the skinny melons and realised that I would have to make yet more to be able to fill up all of the large pinched squares. I dread to think how long it will take to quilt around all of the amber pieces, at least 3 circuits each…!

  

I have restored the indestructible iron that fell onto the nylon carpet so I will use it to weld the misty-fuse and organza onto my DWR amber sections. The major challenge will be joining the curved arcs on without having a tantrum;)

  

Bumble’s Busy Week

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With a mid term break looming I had to fit in lots of projects to get ahead of myself. I made a second Mutant Hot Cross Bunny and cut out all of the Russian DWR pieces out in kit form.

  

Bumble had a very smart trim, not the traditional Scottie Dog style as all that hair just collects twigs. She was in and out of my workshop all week, snoozing while I completed 2 customer quilts, supervised 2 large DIY quilts and made a vegan avocado cake. I made the cake at Nell’s request – the texture was good but it needed far more sugar which I reckon defeats the object of it being a healthy option.

I ordered a cheap roll of orange organza from Ebay which I was annoyed to discover incurred an additional postage charge since the seller decided that my postcode was in The Highlands. When it eventually arrived it was not what I had hoped so I called Rainbow Fabrics in Old Meldrum where I got the burnt orange crystal organza for my practice piece. They posted my package first class and it arrived the next morning which I think is incredible!

I took Nell and Bumble to St Andrews for the day to catch up with Freya and we had a lovely time on the beach, meeting lots of friendly dogs, even another Scottie called Hamish. We took a drive out to the picturesque village of Crail, just along the coast and walked around the bay and harbour in bright, chilly sunshine. When we got back to St Andrews Bumble even managed to trot all the way to the Deli, deciding she might quite like to be a town dog as it was so exciting. No wonder she snored loudly all the way home.

 

 

I randomly selected from my box of green/blue DWR pieces and constructed 48 basic arcs which will also need to have angled end pieces attached. My friend, Angelika, managed to find some of my favourite gold lamé which seems to have been discontinued so I should get the arcs completed next week then begin work on the amber sections. I am trying to persuade Freya to paint a custom back for it IF she can find the time while studying, kayaking and socialising;)

Trials and Errors in my Studio

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I secretly relish when business is slack and I can spend time experimenting in my studio. The trouble with running a small business is that it is easy to get caught on a treadmill with customer quilting, leaving little time to create. I had a go at making a Fancy Forest fox double its original size but my maths was not up to the challenge the first time around so Mr Reject Fox will probably become a cushion. Before long I made 4 correct giant foxes which equals 16 of the mini foxes. Next I made a mutant bunny block and he is huge so I will only need 2 instead of 8. I am such a cheat!

I was going to say that I don’t really enjoy working with small pieces then I remembered my latest idea…

Bumble and I went on an expedition to Rainbow Fabrics in Old Meldrum so I could choose fabrics for my Russian Inspired Quilt Idea. The shop is quite small but jam-packed with sewing goodies. Bolts of fabric are stacked 3 high and a step ladder has to be used to pull out the top ones. I eventually picked out a good selection that I thought looked like lapis lazuli, malachite and amber and asked for long, skinny cuts. I hope the extremely helpful assistant went for a strong cup of coffee after she tidied up my mess.

  

I roughly chopped up a few pieces of the amber colours to see if I could produce something that reminded me of the Amber Room. I wanted to see what would happen if I applied a glaze or a sheer fabric using Misty Fuse. The prototypes came out quite well so the next move was to cut a few egg or nugget shapes out using the Sanncut machine. I did a very rough calculation and decided that I would need more than 1000 so having decided that the project could work, I spent a whole day fusing, cutting and scraping sticky stuff off the cutting mats.

I pieced two DWR arcs to see whether the blues and greens looked good with the amber and quickly dismissed the option of making the easy version.

  

The other thing I worked on a little was adding denim patches on the reverse of the denim quilt where the rivets had caused some damage. They were Bondawebbed on but I knew they would also have to be stitched otherwise they would eventually fall off. This was not as easy as I might have hoped. The denim quilt is far too big and heavy to make life easy so I came up with the idea of adding rustic sashiko stitching – sewing right to left is fine but going back the other way involves a bit of contortionism and my hand gets cramp. I will just have to do a couple of patches at a time.

My much abused iron took yet another tumble off the ironing board but because I was fiddling with tricky organza, I did not pick it up immediately and it melted the carpet. There was brown gloop all over the iron and a terrible smell. Amazingly, the melted nylon mostly scraped off quite easily so I may be able to resurrect it by scrubbing with bicarb. There is absolutely no non-stick surface left anyway but it is such a heavy, hot iron I would hate to try and replace it. I almost repeated the exact same accident with the backup iron so I will need to think of how to add a sturdier iron rest. I wonder whether I could use a slate roof tile and a couple of strips of elastic? Or maybe just move the ironing board out of an awkward corner, except that may lead to reorganising my whole workshop on a horrific scale!

Blooming Birthday!

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My week started off with my Bloomin’ 50th Birthday! My kids made a great effort with balloons and flowers and a some very special gifts, including a black Scottie dog lamp which looks like Bumble is sitting on top of a chest of drawers. My two BFFs were away but sent a helium balloon in the post. I am not into parties but hope to plan some kind of special trip later in  the year.

  

Freya ran a taxi service in her Beetle, getting plenty of driving practice clocking up miles by ferrying her siblings around. It was the last week of her long Christmas holiday so for fun we went out for lunch a couple of times and decided to unscrew the filthy glass lampshades in the kitchen and run them through the dishwasher. It was amazing how dazzling the lights were when they were clean so we decided to clean the oven as well. There is plenty of other Spring Cleaning to do but there is no point in doing it all at once:P

I squeezed in 2 customer quilts – a lovely log cabin and a baby quilt with boats. Feeling virtuous, I completed the blasted rivets on the denim word search quilt and discovered that jeans buttons are far easier to attach. The hanging sleeve was sewn on securely and I even sewed the corners of the binding shut. The only job left to do is some mending on the reverse where some of the rivets have caused a little damage.

 

I decided that I was allowed to spend Saturday afternoon and evening making 8 thistle blocks for the Fancy Forest quilt. I realised that it it is easy to put the stalk in the wrong way around which made the leaves look completely different. After that I made 4 correct blocks and 4 deliberately wrong blocks to make it look like that was what I intended all along.

Before Freya left for the new semester at Uni I discussed ideas with her for my next Big Project. I need to do a bit of experimenting before I launch into it and will actually need to buy some fabric unless I decide to do something completely different. I saw something the other day that I want to figure out which could be interesting…

Rivetting!

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I decided to try and finish off the denim quilt before starting on anything new so I trimmed and blocked it, made binding, a label embroidered onto a jeans pocket and a hanging sleeve. There were several jeans pockets left over from making the blocks so I was able to have a practice run using the Bernina 710 alphabet and some thick yellow thread.

It is a very heavy quilt to deal with so I shifted my sewing machine table to join up with the big table, supporting the weight while the binding was being sewn onto the front side of the quilt. I find sewing binding onto the back by hand very tedious but it is necessary if considering entering a show.

I abandoned the idea of highlighting one or two words with yellow thread. It would have been very difficult to make a neat job on such a bulky quilt and I reckon it will be more fun to search for all of the words without any clues.

  

A test-run of hammering in a rivet was pretty easy so I hoped that adding rivets to all of the block corners would be a quick job. Let’s just say it was a good job that I ordered far more rivets than I needed because quite a lot of them failed. I decided that it was better if I hammered the seam flat first then poked a hole with an awl. Some of the rivet tacks were a tad shorter than others so they were hopeless, simply getting squashed. I broke a couple of finger nails trying to extract the reject rivets (should have used pliers). I even made a sizeable hole in the quilt where one rivet not only failed but also cut right through so I patched it with denim and ordered some larger jeans buttons to deal with such disaster areas. Bumble was not impressed by all of the banging and swearing. That job is yet to be finished as I am waiting for more rivets and buttons to arrive from Ebay.

The middle of the week proved to be lucky – BzB was awarded 3rd place at Road to California, Fergus was offered an audition for Music College and Freya passed her driving test!!!

One of Freya’s first trips in the car as a driver was to go and collect 3 ex-battery hens that she had decided to rescue. The hens are 18 months old when “retired” and are either adopted by a charity or slaughtered. They are in a dreadful state – almost bald with no idea how to drink or forage. Sadly, one died overnight but the other 2 have lasted 24 hours with the help of encouragement, a hot water bottle, porridge and fleece jumpers that I made for them. If we can keep them hydrated and warm over the next few days they stand a chance of a far better life…

  

Just when I was on the point of caving in to supply-teaching offers, the first customer quilt of the year came in. I had to piece together some small, embroidered squares and add  spotty fabrics until it was big enough to become a cot quilt, hopefully without having to purchase much additional fabric. It is now ready to quilt and another 2 customer quilts are on their way so I should be able to stay out of school for a wee bit longer;)

Just Jeans

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I worked on the denim word-search quilt for the entire week! Firstly, I had to complete the vertical lines with the Bernina 710 using a walking foot, going cautiously over the ridiculously thick seams. When that hefty job was done I put the quilt back onto the Q24 longarm to stitch around all of the letters.

I decided that each letter should be outlined 3 times with thick cotton thread, freehanded with no rulers and in manual mode which gives me greater control. Once I had found the best speed and tension for the denim I programmed it into the Q24 to remember the next time it was switched on. (The machine wants to run in BSR mode by default but once I clicked the manual button it also remembered that I like to stitch at 350 which is 30% slower than the default manual speed.)

Some letters were faster to outline than others but it still took quite some time – 121 letters x 3 outlines = 363 outlines and quite a few of the letters had insides too.

I was not happy with how some of the seams looked really bulky so I couched over all of the vertical and horizontal seams with a denim-look yarn to help flatten them. By Saturday afternoon I could not listen to anymore political analysis on Radio 4 so I downloaded an audio book instead which seemed to pass the time very well.

I am trying to decide whether it would be a wise decision to wash the finished quilt or not. Some of the denim is from well-worn jeans but some was crispy and new so it could shrink at very different rates. I wonder whether a wash would give it a good scruffy look or just make it look scruffy?

My plan was to highlight a couple of the word-search “answers” with thick yellow thread but that will mean more wrestling with the domestic machine/walking foot so I may drop that notion. The quilt is very large, stiff and heavy – so I could easily talk myself out of that.

However, I am keen to add rivets to all of the block corners so I have ordered some (maybe a hundred or so!) from Ebay, which will all have to be hammered on. Apparently you can get a hand-held rivet gun but I don’t know how often I will actually need to apply rivets to any future quilts. This denim word-search quilt could well be a one-off;)

I hope to get the entire project finished next week. I had intended to apply a facing but the quilt is far too thick to turn and get a neat knife edge so a conventional binding will have to suffice. It will also need blocking, a hanging sleeve in case it is ever exhibited and a label which I plan to make from a jeans pocket. Then I will have to decide what to do with it…