Monthly Archives: March 2018

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;)