Monthly Archives: July 2016

Fanfare – The Royal Quilt is Finished!!

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Despite not receiving any assistance from magic elves, I worked hard to finish off HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday Quilt so it could be sent to London to be photographed by Bernina UK, prior to being displayed at FOQ. I clocked up a total of 88 hours and many of them were just last week! I had to abandon the idea of wishbone twin needle sashing after hours of unpicking. It worked beautifully off the edge of the quilt but the thread kept breaking on the royal blue fabric, the un-sewing was starting to show and I just did not have time to persevere.

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It took a really long time to triple stitch around the scallops and blocks but I think it made them “pop”.  The thin gold braid adds just a hint of bling and the tiny checked flange under the red binding looks like the edge of an airmail letter. I spent hours hand-sewing the binding to the back and by the time I sewed on the hanging sleeve, my fingers were numb. I would probably have to make royal quilts regularly for 10 years before I could apply to display a Royal Warrant so my blog is unlikely to display any official lion/unicorn logos.

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It was an enormous relief to have finished in good time and to discover that the entire quilt lies flat on the table so should hang nicely without too much persuasion. I only dislodged one tiny embellishment while working on the quilt but I have sewn it back on and no-one will ever know;)

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Rather than hoover up after the marathon Royal project, I loaded up Freya’s Going-to-Uni quilt and cracked on with it. There is not much holiday left, including FOQ and she goes away at the beginning of September! I have made a multi strip binding of tartan offcuts, having decided that it feels super organised to make the binding before the quilting is  even finished. Maybe I will get that done AND have a trip to the beach next week, even if it is raining…

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Knowing When to Stop

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We finished off our trip to Norfolk with very hot weather then came home to damp and muggy weather that made the weeds and grass grow exponentially. I purchased a second-hand ride-on mower but it could not cope with the long, wet grass so I will have to get a guy in with an industrial grass machine. The shrubs beside my workshop must have sprouted 2 feet of growth since I was away so I had to hack them back before I could get  on with any quilting.

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I had a couple of DIY quilters in, one of whom requested the computerised system then generously offered to help me label and pack my FOQ entries while she was waiting for her quilt to be completed. This was an absolute boon as it meant an extra pair of eyes to check for fluff and to ensure that I pinned on the correct labels. I scavenged 2 tall lily boxes from the florist shop and arranged an online courier pickup so as long as that goes according to plan, everything should reach its destination in good time.

I got back to HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday Quilt and completed the borders then went back to the blocks to add some background fillers. I am finding it difficult not to add tiny quilting patterns to every single block! Some have lots of empty space whereas others are too embellished or busy to need much at all. My problem is that I see the un-quilted blocks as looking “naked” next to the ones that I have filled in. I will have to be strong and resist the urge to fill up every gap as I still have the sashing to quilt and I have a notion to surround all of the blocks with triple-stitch embroidery or even couching;) I have prepared some skinny bias to insert a red, white and blue checked flange under the red binding so I am feeling virtuous that the binding is all ready to apply.

I dragged Fergus along to help me shift some large items of furniture at the school where I will have a temporary 2-day-a-week job from August. It has had a succession of temporary teachers over the past year and needs a good sort-out. It is one of those jobs that could potentially take a least a full week of reorganising but I will have to rein myself in from wanting to tidy every single drawer and cupboard if I am to have any holiday time left in which to finish my royal commission!

Intermission

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There has been no quilting at all this week as I am in Norfolk with my kids staying with my folks. We have been to junk shops, gone crabbing and eaten loads of strawberries. I am just writing a brief post from the eclectic and chilled out Latitude Festival, actually hoping it might rain as it is so hot! We are enjoying the sights, great music, world food and even a rather nice beer:)

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Rather Royal Week

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I had to wear a posh frock and even posher shoes to attend the presentation of Freya’s Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, chatted briefly to each group of youngsters about their adventures and experiences.  A military band played on despite the rain and we especially enjoyed their rendition of the “Game of Thrones” theme tune. It was a truly memorable occasion, particularly as the entire palace gardens fell silent as the Earl appeared following the National Anthem. Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Phillip arrived by helicopter and waved as they whizzed away in a Range Rover. They had been on an official visit to Dundee and we wondered if they would kick off their shoes and have a cup of tea when they were off duty. We rounded off the day with a splendid afternoon tea and champagne at “The Dome”.

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By complete contrast, the next day I drove Freya and a couple of chums down to the “T in the Park” festival. The drop-off car-park was already strewn with bottles and rubbish just minutes after the main gates opened. I suppose the DofE expeditions will have come in handy for preparing them for a weekend camping out in the open with plenty of mud and no showers;)

A box from Bernina in London arrived containing my special commission. I am honoured to be the quilter who completes the competition quilt in time for Festival of Quilts which is only 4 weeks from now (and I will be away in Norfolk with family for just over a week)!

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Quilt for a Queen

To mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016, we’re inviting you to contribute to a special “Quilt For A Queen”. This project will create a unique gift to mark this special occasion while raising funds for Friends of the Elderly, one of the charities of which the Queen is patron. 

For a charitable donation of £15 or above, we will send you a fabric square (and a spare one to practise on) which you can sew, embroider or decorate with your own birthday design. Your square will contribute to a virtual online quilt, which will include your name. In addition, 60 squares will be selected by an invited panel of judges, including world-renowned quilter Philippa Naylor, to create the quilt that will given to Her Majesty

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On Friday morning I faffed around for ages, looking at the quilt, measuring it, making sketches and taking deep breaths. Eventually I just loaded it and started the stitch-in-the-ditch around all of the blocks and around as many of the motifs as I could, allowing for ribbons, beads and other hazardous embellishments. The “winning” blocks have been made by individuals, groups, beginners and talented seamstresses/seamchaps. Once I got going the hours passed quickly and I made good progress. I am glad that there is not a spy-cam in my studio as I stuck my tongue out with concentration and nearly turned blue from asphyxiation when I plucked up the courage to freehand the lettering that I had traced with chalk. By the end of the weekend all of the SID was done and I had quilted the bones of the borders which actually beat the target that I had set myself before I go away next week. I will not show pictures of any of the blocks but I can show glimpses of the borders so far.

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Some of the blocks will need additional filler quilting and I intend to add to add twin-needle stitching and couching to show what the Q24 can do. This project is really putting it through its paces and it is great being able to switch easily from a deep ruler foot to a dainty cut-away embroidery foot.  The Q24 is performing beautifully so far but I will probably wish for a motorised fabric advance after I have wound the quilt backwards and forwards a few more times…

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

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I was in Manchester this week to demo and teach on the Bernina Q20. Although I know how the machine works, I am not a terribly competent sit-down quilter so it was a good opportunity to practise. Most of the machine quilting tuition that I do in the UK is on domestic machines so I really need to knuckle down and improve! The Q20 is the machine that I will probably use the most at FOQ this year for demos and hands-on sessions as the folks from Bernina Switzerland will be showing off the Q24. The Q20 has excellent BSR’s (stitch regulators) but on a sit-down machine my free-motion quilting is far smoother when running in manual. The Q24 frame machine that I usually use is completely different as pushing the machine around is more intuitive, just like drawing with a giant pen. At least I have worked out how to use rulers on the sit-down machine and it was not as tricky as I expected.

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The staff and visitors at Bambers Sewing Machines were all very friendly and really looked after me. After work I even visited the vast Trafford Centre on a mission to find a posh frock and shoes for Freya’s  DofE Gold presentation. After wandering around in a daze for a bit, a helpful assistant in Debenhams suggested an outfit that I hope won’t be too frumpy. I am planning to travel on the train in everyday clothes and shoes then get changed just before the “Do”.

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Miss M loved her blue and white quilt and cried, as did all of her pupils;)

I received another stitched parcel from India containing a vintage woodblock stamp that might spark another evolving quilt idea.

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I had a fantastic day with one of my DIY quilters who knows everything about dyeing with natural dyes. Her scullery was like an old apothecary shop with all sorts of jars and potions. Carole has volumes of notes and samples on different dyes, mordants and fabrics and I quizzed her all day on what could be a new diversion for me. Wool is best for the efficacy of natural dyes so I may come up with a project that involves dyestuffs that were historically produced in Scotland. The fabric that I threw into a bucket for the day was not ideal, being white-on-white cotton but a cream canvas bag that I had took along turned a strong yellow after being boiled up with dried Buddleia flowers without requiring any mordant.

Although I would like to experiment with my new interest, I need to focus all of my time on the quilt that should arrive this week in between days out at palaces and driving Freya and Co. to “T in the Park”, Scotland’s biggest, rowdiest festival. I should think I deserve a large bottle of gin to keep calm this week!