Monthly Archives: November 2016

Bloody Quilt!

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Monday morning was bitterly cold and I wished I had fingerless gloves because my hands were so cold I could not feel them. After a hot, strong cup of coffee, I plucked up the courage to stitch words written in Viking runes onto Shield Maiden. Runes are just an alphabet system, not an actual language, so I just had to write out the words that I wanted on the quilt into their runic form. They are quite hidden and you really have to look for them!

The next adventure was to use a test piece of linen to see if the “blood” spattered effect would work. I used watered down fabric paint in a spray bottle, toothbrush and pastry brush to apply my Jackson Pollock style artistry. Because it was raining heavily outside, I had to fling the paint onto the quilt while it was on my workshop table. Afterwards it looked like I had been butchering something – there was red-brown paint on my sewing machine, carpet and table which took some time to scrub off. It just shows how difficult it must be to get away with murder;)

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I co-opted Tania into helping me block the probably finished quilt then hang it outside for photos. I had a choice of full sun or very dark shade because I don’t have any blank walls where I can take uncluttered photos inside. I have been warned by my friends to step away from the quilt now and not be tempted to add any further embellishment, not even pieces of antler…

As usual, after an intense project, I was a bit lost so I decided to finish piecing my tumbler quilt which I may give to myself for Christmas.

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I did not do any significant Black Friday shopping apart from a vintage wool tartan dressing gown from Ebay. I have visions of me wearing it to quilt with my wellies and thick socks in the depths of winter!

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I Can’t Seem To Do Subtle

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Now that it is on Freya’s bed in Uni Halls, I can post photos of her “away” Christmas quilt. It is a Betty Quilt pattern that I downloaded from Erica Jackman on Craftsy. It was quick and easy to piece and I used a computer panto called “ Let it Snow” by Natalia Majors at http://www.sunstonequilting.com The fabrics have a fun Scandi look but I will have to warn her to use a load of colour catchers if she ever washes it since red dye was obviously coming out while I ironed the binding!

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I have got Shield Maiden to a point where it could be hung (on a sturdy batten as it is so heavy!) Hand sewing linen is seriously heavy duty, especially when the edges have been overlocked to stop them unravelling. The deadline for Quilt Con is in 10 days so it at least needs to be finished looking for photos. I can add some stitched runes if I think they will work. I want to paint the trickles gold then experiment on a piece of sacrificial linen to see if a radical idea might work… The quilt is subtle but in my opinion it currently lacks “Oomph”.

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Purdah was rejected from the SAQA Layered Voices exhibition with a very professional let-down informing me that only 23 out of 535 made the cut. Those were high odds but I had hoped that Purdah was relevant to that sort of exhibition. I don’t know where Purdah can be exhibited. It clearly is more of a statement than a competition piece, like so many other things I have made. I wonder whether some quilters win consistently in competitions because they aim to perfect a particular style of quilt. I am obviously still busy experimenting, trying to find “my” style;)

Failed Rescue Attempt with Tennis Balls

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I gave Shield Maiden my full attention for 2 whole days and completed the basic quilting. I have decided that I will face its edges and add the hanging sleeve then decide whether to add more quilting or embroidered runes IF there is still time to meet the QuiltCon competition deadline.

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I had hoped that the felt-pen guidelines that I drew on with a so-called washable marker would just wipe off but they did not! Next I tried rubbing them quite vigorously with a bar of soap and wet sponge to no avail. Feeling slightly panicky, I purchased an armoury of stain removers. Shield Maiden is already a heavy quilt as it has a layer of cotton and a layer of wool wadding, a wool scarf and front and back of coarse linen. By the time it got plunged into a bath of cold water with a splash of Fairy liquid and vinegar, it weighed a ton! I transported it back to my workshop in a large bucket for a spin in the washing machine.

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The pen marks had all gone but the quilt looked worrying “antiqued”. This can be a good look for a quilt but I had rather liked the smooth finish on the coarse linen before washing. I laid it out to dry on the table, hoping that would recover.

48 hours later it was still damp and still looked decidedly crinkly so I threw it into the tumble dryer with tennis balls for a rumble, not daring to give it any heat. When it emerged it was dry but not flat and still wrinkled…

The next remedy was to block it by dampening it and pinning it out. At least it is now flat enough to add the few lines of stitching that I want to highlight around the motif. After that I may coerce Tania into helping me to give it a bit of a stretch since two people pulling might help. The stitching has held up remarkably well considering its harsh treatment.

The photos don’t actually look too bad and I am probably over-reacting but I am already drafting a blurb that includes the words “weather-beaten” when describing Shield Maiden. Meanwhile I have wondered how to incorporate a subtle length of leather thong somewhere and have decided to buy lookalike Dremel drill-bits to bore holes into antler pieces. I should probably just take up LARPing as a hobby – it would be a good excuse to create quilted costumes out of fur and other unusual found objects.

(Over the weekend I finished off a project for Freya but I will not post any spoiler pics until she has seen it;))

Bragging About Bamber Sewing Machine Centre!

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My 1951 100th anniversary Singer Featherweight arrived back from its holiday at Bamber Sewing Machine Centre, Manchester www.bambersew.com

I tried to flag down the courier’s van as it drove off without checking that I was in my workshop so it had to be re-delivered the next day.

It came in a box packed out with polystyrene blocks and the machine itself had lots of wadding around it inside its wee case so it had an extra smooth journey. I was amazed at the technician’s checklist which actually had 46 points that should be investigated. The machine was certainly very clean and shiny and I am quite sure the knobs and levers did not look as pristine as that before.

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The great thing with Bambers is that they are such a long established family business that they are bound to have lots of long-forgotten spare parts in their archives. Alan Bamber writes great posts on Facebook about the many interesting characters he has met, including some formidable Home Economics teachers. AND he drives a Landy;)

Bamber Sewing Machine Centre supplies and services school sewing machines and they give honest advice to their prospective clients. I was really impressed that they sent away a lady who had received a small legacy for a sewing machine away until she had time to have a good think about what she really wanted from a machine before making a snap purchase. I am sure she will go back to them when she has done her research on the brands and models.

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The shop is in a busy part of Eccles, Greater Manchester. When I visited earlier this year there was a constant stream of visitors looking at new machines, picking up machines that had been serviced, people buying fabric or machine accessories, and also attending classes.  The Bambers team have phenomenal knowledge and experience of everything to do with sewing machines – my latest purchase, the tiny 1970’s Elna Lotus will be next in line to be sent down for a spa treatment – in fact, I bet they could even fix the seized antique hand cranks!

The Start of Something

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I finally made a start on quilting Shield Maiden! As it is saggy, crumpled mess of linen when not stretched out tight, I decided that it would be impossible to pre-mark any lines so I blithely relied on using a quilting ruler with registration lines. It worked reasonably well but there was a bit of unpicking as a couple of lines in the middle seemed to be wandering off course. I used a Friction pen and a Crayola felt-tip to mark the rest of the lines. Obviously, I did not bother to test whether these would be easily removable so I will need to soak it later and hope for the best.

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The diagonal lines at each side are too long to do in one pass on the Q24 longarm so each line stops then restarts after the quilt is rolled on. It is entirely possible that I may quilt it all again using metallic thread on the domestic machine if I can see where those joins are. My fingers and wrist ached after negotiating all of the small curves with a 2.5” circle template and I still have not decided what will happen around the triskeles but various crossings-out in my notebook may be considered.

I hope to complete the basic long arming this week then try to reign myself in from adding too much more to what is currently a minimalist project…

I expect that I broke health and safety guidelines when I made Bonfire Night toffee apples at school but they were absolutely perfect – so perfect that I had to take the pan home to give it a really good, hot soak to get rid of the “hard crack” toffee that set instantly.

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I made two trips to Stirling over the weekend to deliver and collect Fenella from a Girl Guiding event that focuses on community projects, leading to an international trip. She had a great time with Guides from all over Scotland whom she had never met before. She enjoyed watching Guy Fawkes fireworks over the city from her room at the Youth Hostel near the castle. The drive home on Sunday was glorious as there are still gorgeous autumn colours and now fresh snow on the hills.

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blurry on the move pic that is meant to show a cloud snowing on top of a hill!