Monthly Archives: May 2012

Heavy Metal




I was determined to get my Houston entry finished this week so after teaching 9 and 10 year olds how to throw a sponge javelin on Monday I had to devote all of my time to getting the copper piece quilted. The weather was beautiful but I did not venture out much. The silk quilted really well and the bird looked suitably coppery but I was conscious that it was not actually metallic fabric. I painted the back with fabric paint once the quilting was done but the silk soaked it up and gold splodges leached through to the right side of the quilt. This meant that I had to add more paint in rust and green colours to make it look verdigrised. Although it looked very much like antiqued copper, it simply was not the effect that I was looking for. An unexpected  bonus is that this bird can be entered into a quilt show in its own right.

I drew out a new Viking shield and started another internet search for dancewear companies supplying copper spandex or tissue lame that could be delivered the next day from the UK. To my relief, the postie delivered the copper lurex from the USA that I had been waiting for in time for me to start yet another piece. Since I was running low on orange and rust thread colours I had to make do with what I had and get on with the job. I decided to quilt ridiculously small pebbles around the bird figures and Celtic knots so that the background would look like hammered copper. I am pleased with results but as usual, I could not just leave the back alone so I sponged on some copper and green paint – some green has leaked through but I am going to keep my fingers crossed that no-one else can see it as I dare not start adding gilding and paints at this late stage in case it also goes pear-shaped!

I have attached the machine sew bindings to all three quilts but still need to add the tiny gold braid before I can take the Houston entry photos and the deadline is looming fast. Anne from Skye called in for help flattening out some fullness in a huge bargello quilt that she made a few years ago. We trimmed up some generous seams to reduce bulk and gave it a serious dose of steam. I will give it an overall version of plumed quilting that will scoop up more of the excess fabric that often appears in multi-seamed quilts and bias joins.

A friend got in touch to enquire whether I would eventually sell any of the Norse pieces. He came for coffee and brought a selection of books on Viking symbolism. It sparked an entirely new idea on how to develop the totem pole idea that I had a while back. I can visualise a series that involves leather, lame and something that looks like amber… I may have to start investigating materials soon 😉

By the weekend the weather here was unusually fabulous so I camped out in the Yurt on Saturday night and had an almost-day-off on Sunday. I will have to have an actual-day-off soon to buy some summer shoes in Aberdeen as I don’t think that sheepskin boots or Doc Martens look all that good with my denim skirt: unlike trendy, skinny celebs who may be able to pull it off, I look like I forgot to take my slippers off!

Copper Quest



The next time I plan to make a competition quilt I might just allow a little more time to order the necessary materials. The copper fabrics that arrived in the post were luridly bright orange or dull brown.  It may have been possible to use the existing copper quilt that is part of the Ostrych for my Houston entry BUT if I trim it down to the same size as the gold snakeskin piece it will have no background left. I really should have made everything a uniform size but there would be no fun in that 😉 I would like to have ordered more thread but time dictates that I have to make do with the orange or brown ones that have at least 500m left on their spools. I searched the internet fruitlessly for more copper lurex and eventually came across some copper lame from the USA. If it arrives by the middle of the week I will draft out a new Norse helmet design but to be on the safe side I have started another bird on copper coloured silk. I was very impressed with the service that I received from The Silk Route as they sent samples and a length of dupion the very next day after I phoned. However, while searching for copper fabrics on Etsy, I found a leather manufacturer in Texas that produces hides embossed to look like ostrich or lizard skin in a fabulous range of colours.  I bet a leather quilt would look amazing; although weighty, it would be durable!

I managed to finish off the sunflower quilt and packaged it up ready to post when I go into town. The customer quilt waiting to be done next is a long, thin hand-pieced hexagon project. After prevaricating about the copper fabric for a few hours, I decided to have a side project and ran up a couple of new quilted Ipad covers. The red oilcloth looked unexciting so I added embroidery stitches, ribbon and rickrack. I had to sew everything from the reverse side as the sewing machine foot kept sticking to the plastic fabric. I want Freya to learn how to make these as she could probably sell them to her school friends. While working on these small, easy projects I mulled over a few thoughts on future “wholecloth-with-a-twist” quilts. I have also been thinking about something that involves African masks for some time but I will have to put these ideas into some sort of project queue!

I taught the same class of children for 3 days in a row so I managed to learn all 31 of their names, worked out how to use the interactive whiteboard and I marked all of their work. They studied The Olympics, Jamaica and Decimals and were suitably impressed that I had downloaded topic related poetry and reggae onto my Ipad. Unfortunately, the grass was waterlogged so they did not experience a hockey lesson with me wearing red Doc Martens since the rubber soles of my old trainers have now crumbled to dust.

I toured the Loch Lomond Quilt Show with Ellen which gave us an opportunity to catch up and talk about one or two quilty trips that we would like to do. We thought that the most impressive exhibition was “Remember Me? Quilts Honouring the Women of Scotland” by Lorraine Sullivan and Tina Gravatt. They have made almost 80 different quilts inspired by all sorts of women in history from domestic servants, to explorers and medical pioneers. I think they have created an incredible and diverse body of work and I believe they have been invited to display some of their collection at Houston.

We had afternoon tea at the West Kirk in Dumbarton where the ladies had hung bunting and covered the tables in embroidered tablecloths to attract visitors to their “tearoom”. The meringues and homebakes were delicious and we had a chance to catch up with other quilters on tour around the quilt exhibitions in churches. There was much discussion on the merits of the winning quilts and of other shows that quilters were planning to attend throughout the year. I had a chat with award winning quilter, Philippa Naylor who has been working on her Houston entry for 18 months rather than approximately 18 days. She had me worried for an hour or so after informing me that photographs of my entry would have to be put onto a CD and sent by post. I used my Iphone to check the rules and I was mightily relieved that electronic submissions are allowed! So I have around a week to complete my 3 latest Norse pieces – maybe even a fourth if my Ebay purchase arrives promptly!

Gold Snakeskin and Silver Spandex




I informed my children that the next time I take them shopping collectively will be when they are all over 25 years old. Everyone got something in the end but no-one enjoyed browsing in the same shops. I was pleased with my purchase of a set of plastic boxes that had London Underground stations printed onto the lids but I unwisely allowed Fenella to buy a “make your own giraffe kit”. When we tackled it later on I found the instructions impossible to follow, it had two leg pieces missing and it moulted fur fabric all over my sewing machine.

I spent a day in school where I had to teach data handling – explaining range, median, mean, mode and histograms. I wish Miss Rudland, who bullied me into passing my O-level maths exam third time lucky could see me now!

I had an interesting invitation to attend the Vintage Festival in Northants in July and take the Yurt as an exhibit. It looks like a really cool event that I could take the children to if I hire a trailer for the Yurt and a load of camping gear. If the logistics all fall into place then we could have fun at the roller disco, pogo to The Damned, and make bunting at one of the “upcycling” craft workshops.

I made the decision to suspend customer quilts and unnecessary side projects until my Houston entries are finished so the background of the sunflower quilt is not finished yet. I have been tempted to run up a few ipad and kindle covers but I am being strong willed and trying to resist the urge to quilt some oilcloth.

I quilted the gold Norse birdman again onto some gold vinyl snakeskin. I don’t think the definition is quite as good as it is on the very basic lame as it already has some texture. I now have the choice of painting in some shading or retrimming the already bound original to the uniform size that I have decided on for the Houston entries.

I had a near meltdown when I was told that the copper lurex silk lame was lost in the post and that the supplier had none left. I ordered some more copper pieces of spandex, chiffon and taffeta online and just have to hope that one of them will do the job.

I started confidently on the new version of the silver helmet but to my horror I discovered that the ruler base on the longarm was scuffing off the metallic surface. This is because I quilt these pieces upside down with the metallic fabric as the backing. I decided to start again with a new piece of silver spandex which meant that I had to draw the whole design out yet again and I had to follow all of the lines carefully without using a ruler. In the end, I think the new version of the helmet is actually better than the original. I may even consider pinning the finished one back onto the quilt frame to add more quilting behind the Celtic motifs.

Self Inflicted Stress




I had a wonderful Monday morning catching up on paperwork and emails and was enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee when the phone started ringing. It was as if the Quilting World knew that I didn’t have any school commitments this week. Within a short space of time I had agreed to take in several customer quilts, stitch a huge sports day banner for Freya’s house at school, visit a craft shop to discuss teaching workshops, and set up an appointment with a fabric wholesale rep. In addition, there were numerous emails arranging the APQS stand at Festival of Quilts, replies to my queries about entering quilts for Houston and a lesson with new longarm quilting pupil who was delighted at the random circles we placed on her quilt top.

I crossed my fingers that I would not get any calls from schools so that I could fit everything in since my self-imposed deadlines are starting to alarm me. I have to complete and photograph the new Norse triptych by the end of May. I have now drawn out 3 identically sized patterns and the gold bird-man is set up and ready to go on gold vinyl snakeskin. I have made hanging sleeves for the Ostrych pieces so that I can hand sew them all on when I am hanging around at school swimming lessons.

Despite worrying about my expanding quilting To-Do list, I had a day out with Tania catching up with another friend on Wednesday. I bought a Danish fabric bread basket in a gift shop simply because I thought it could be adapted in many fabrics and sizes. I was intrigued by a new method of making bunting so perhaps I should make some in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. When I got home I ordered a screen printing kit as we had been talking about spending some creative time together. Tania has an unopened candle making kit, Mo wants to paint some goose eggs and I want to take more photographs. I would really like to quilt a piece of oilcloth fabric ready to make some new kindle covers and bags but I have had to tell myself that this is not a priority until after the triptych is finished.

I quilted some freehand sunflowers onto a customer quilt that is a single piece of fabric printed with French fields. The background will be filled in later with some green swirls and loops. I didn’t want to work on other people’s projects all weekend so I decided to complete Freya’s Christmas quilt made from giant hexagons. I think I finally have set-in seams with quarter inch stops and starts sussed. It was fairly time consuming but obviously did not take as long as hand piecing. It was fairly greedy on fabric but ideal for stash reduction. It would be fun to make a quilt from plain fabrics but appliqué other hexagons or shapes onto the large pieces or just fill them in with some very nice quilting. The idea of the scrappy Christmas quilts is not to do complicated quilting but those are possibly famous last words!