Category Archives: Projects

Budgies Don’t Fly Upside Down

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It was midweek by the time I had written yet more lists, helped a DIY quilter, did a cute customer quilt, tried to help Fergus tackle last minute revision for his Music Prelim, and managed not to sort out the kitchen cupboard that is full of spilled sugar. After all of this industry and to stop myself from getting sucked into reading an epic trilogy non-stop, I decided to have a go at Sara Lawson’s “Aeroplane Bag that I had purchased as a PDF.

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customer quilt – Candyland computer pantograph

I already had fabric and some interfacing but by the time I had been to the craft shop to get a chunky zip, more specialist bag-making interfacing and some more pompom wool, I reckoned it would have been cheaper to have bought a bag in Cath Kidston’s very jolly shop.

It took me some time to prepare all of the pieces and because the pattern did not actually say to check that my fabric should be the right way up, despite the many photos, I managed to cut out my budgies upside down! The only solution was to add a panel of co-ordinating fabric and pretend that I was doing patchwork. The instructions were very good and I managed not to get lost. The only hiccup I had was getting the ends of the chunky zip to line up exactly despite being very careful with that step. I need to give myself a zip masterclass to figure out how to improve that.

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There is an iffy bumfle inside the lining that only I need to know about but overall it looks quite professional. I decided to make a false bottom to make it sit up even more like a carpet bag. If I could get my hands on a piece of sewable carpet I would love to make a Mary Poppins bag for under £400, although the metal clasp could prove even more unco-operative than a zip!

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I need an extra week in January!

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Freya and I arrived back in Scotland late on Monday night form our amazing trip to St Petersburg then I had a DIY quilt customer here on Tuesday so that left me just one day to catch up and unpack before my 2 days in school. I keep having the guilty feeling that I have not achieved anything in January 2017, apart from a superficial tidy-up in the workshop and a terrific 3-day trip to Russia;)

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I rashly decided to clear out a couple of boxes of quilt magazines that have not been opened in several years. If I can be bothered I will try Ebay, otherwise will have to give them away or just recycle them to make space as I can’t keep putting stuff into my workshop without taking some other stuff out!

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I got a bee in my bonnet about making a bag for the vintage Elna Lotus sewing machine as I was worried that it could get rust spots on its metal case from the cold air on days when my workshop is not heated. I quilted a linen fabric with Bosal interfacing which is spongy and helps bags stand upright. I did not have enough quilted fabric to make shoulder straps but decided that I only needed small handles anyway. There were no pockets but I came a bit unstuck when I had to put in the zip panel as it meant that the opening was not wide enough for the sewing machine. I had to take the zip panel apart and use a longer zip that overhangs at each end to overcome that issue.

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I have made lots of notes thinking that I could probably come up with either a generic sewing machine bag or a handy shopper tote pattern. There are already many of these online but many seem to have vague instructions. There is probably no point in writing a whole book on alternative pockets/zips because this has already been done but I would like to come up with a bag that could be made as a gift that has a neat finish and is practical.

My new desk planner now has dates and I have written up a wall calendar so there should be no excuse for forgetting appointments or not tackling admin tasks in a timely fashion in the coming months…;)

где находится стеганый магазин?

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Freya has been valiantly studying Russian as one of her minor courses at Uni. It has been an intense language course, taught in fast Russian by Russian natives with fancy cyrillic handwriting. She has been wondering whether to continue with it because she has to spend so much time learning tricky grammar and vocabulary that she is worried that her other subjects might not get so much attention. Rather on a whim, I suggested that we set off on a brief expedition to St Petersburg during her Christmas holiday. Growing up in the Cold War, I never thought that a trip to Russia would ever have been possible. I only know a handful of words including “perestroika”, “vodka” and “Dostoyevsky” but I have read all sorts of wonderful Russian novels in my time and Mo has lent me a fur hat. As you can see in this week’s blog title, I have used Google Translate to ask how to find the Quilt Shop.

It would have been fun to have kept the trip as a surprise but I had to tell her as we both had to complete a lengthy online visa application and will have to attend the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh to have our fingerprints taken. We had to declare every foreign visit for the past 10 years. My passport had been date stamped for the USA but EU countries have not done that in years so I used my blog to approximate my other travel dates. Fingers crossed that we actually get the visas because I had to book flights and accommodation first in order to say where and when the trip would be!

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I am in between major quilt projects so I had two DIY quilt ladies here this week. One of them had been given inaccurate advice on measuring fabric for her quilt back so it was too small. It was not possible to attach side clamps so there may be the odd tiny bumfle. We used a computerised pattern called “Candyland” and I trimmed both ends of the quilt afterwards so nobody will be able to tell it was not quite the right size.

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I have now made a dozen mini purses as stocking fillers but I still have around 20 short zips left so maybe I will make some more for Fenella to sell in aid of her Girl Guides trip to Norway;)

This week I hope to get some of a customer’s “Silent Movie Star” quilt done, meet Freya in Edinburgh for our assignation and think about buying myself some thermals!

Wavering

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For months I had planned to quilt the Civil War tumbler quilt with close wavy lines but at the last minute I wavered and chose a pantograph pattern called “Turkish Tiles”. I worried that I should have chosen the version where the tiles change direction and got frustrated when Quilt Path randomly crashed twice. I had to restart the quilting and there was some unintended crossing over of lines BUT it is finished and it is for me so it does the job perfectly well. It is a pretty large quilt with over 1100 tumblers but I used a wool wadding so it is as light as a feather.

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I had a bee in my bonnet about perfecting the measurements and method for making lined tartan zip-up purses. The reason for this project is that I seem to have a large quantity of annoyingly short zips and before I can justify ordering some more longer ones I “need” to use those up! After faffing around with zips that are positioned part of the way down one side, I decided that going back to Plan A of a top opening zip was the most practical as it does not matter which side the zip head is inserted. I have made copious notes that suggest cutting the lining bigger so there is plenty of room to turn the zip opening then everything gets trimmed to match later;) I have sent Freya the prototypes to give to her Foreign Friends as stocking fillers. The wool tartan is really nice but I might rustle up a few more purses from brightly coloured African fabrics.

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I did use the wavy line quilting on a customer quilt that will raffled in aid of polio research. The customer requested something different in the borders to the body of the quilt but I did not trust QP to be accurate enough so the wavy lines went all of the way across then I added some freehand small spirals in the outer borders for interest.

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The rest of my week was taken up with teaching and trawling the internet for quirky Christmas presents and how to apply for a Russian visa – just in case;)

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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Dealing with a Flawed Plan

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I had the luxury of 2 whole days without any commitments in my studio so I managed to reverse applique the raw linen onto the woad wool shawl by using lots of pins, going very slowly, turning the piece gradually at the curves and using the walking foot. I am relieved now that all of the easily frayed linen is tucked under with no lumps. My “only” problem now will be how I should proceed with the quilting.

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The Tuesday night quilters were visited by Mel’s friend, Lesley, who showed us how she creates bowls and baskets from cotton clothes line. It is incredible how much rope gets used up in one small bowl but they are so pleasing to look at and hold. I made one straight away the next morning then dyed it blue so it could act as a bread basket in my kitchen. It was quite an addictive process so I can see myself aimlessly sewing round in circles more often.

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On Saturday Nell and I took the train to Edinburgh. She got off at the station in Leuchars to spend the day with Freya in St Andrews. They had a fun day wandering around meeting Freya’s new friends and having beans on toast in her student flat.

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I met up with a fellow SAQA member, textile artist Michele Lasker. Michele had already spent a few days exploring Glasgow and London before group a tour of weavers on an Outlander inspired tour of Scotland. We had a lovely lunch at Brown’s Brasserie, discussing what we got up to in our studios then went for a wee mooch around the city. Michele creates multi-layered pieces from freeform knitting, felting and stitch – her website is vibrant and fascinating…

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While I was in Edinburgh I dashed into John Lewis to buy yet another piece of black fabric to finish off the Drunkard’s Path quilt that begged to be finished off because it was so easy and pleasing to put together. It was not until I laid the blocks out to make the “snake-in-the-grass” border arrangement that I had planned that I realised there was a large FLAW in my plan. When I cut out another 64 units I continued to use half pink and half black blocks just like all of the others except that I should have made sure that all of the Pacman shapes should have been pink and all of the bite shaped pieces should have been black – oops! I wondered whether to have a pink snake down 2 sides and a black snake around the other 2 but eventually decided on quarter circles. I had to be really careful when I picked up the pieces to take them to the sewing machine in case I accidentally got them muddled up. The finished quilt top looks pretty cool and Fenella will be its recipient. I will probably just do utility quilting on this one but I wonder whether I will manage to make do with backing fabric in my stash or will I “need” to buy something that matches better?

I used a random number generator to choose which blog commenter would win a copy of John Kubiniec’s “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” book. I have emailed the winner so when she replies I can announce who that was;)

Book Review – A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path by John Kubiniec

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I have always loved the look of Drunkard’s Path quilt blocks and their infinitely varied layouts but over the years some of my attempts at making them have been frustrating. I have cheated and used interfacing or bondaweb appliqué blocks covered with embroidery stitches and thrown away many blocks where the two pieces just would not meet, even using a special designed-for-curved-piecing foot.

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Long, long ago…

Thanks to lots of practice and a certain amount of time watching YouTube demos, I have now conquered most of my demons about curved piecing but freely admit that there are times when a certain amount of fudging goes on!

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Slinky – yurt panel (pieced by Corey Starkey, quilted by Linzi Upton)

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Sam’s Quilt – pieced and quilted by Linzi Upton

 

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When fellow Bernina longarm ambassador, John Kubiniec asked me to review his book, A NEW SPIN ON DRUNKARD’S PATH I was intrigued to see what his method would be to crack the devilishly difficult Drunkard’s Path blocks. The layout and explanations in the book are very clear and as an Instruction-Phobe like me that is high praise;) Most importantly, the templates are a SENSIBLE size. This means that the curve is not too sharp or short so you stand a far better chance of easing in that curve! John writes, “ If you detest curved piecing, I hope these patterns will entice you to give it a try and that my techniques will help you conquer your fears. If you already love curved piecing, the variations and patterns will help you explore new design possibilities.”

John very sensibly recommends using at least 3 pins but I chose to ignore that sage advice and still managed to make well behaved DP units.

I was only going to make one or two units to test the instructions but I very quickly found myself making 16 units to make a giant DP block and because my mental arithmetic failed me, I accidentally cut out enough for 2 giant blocks so I found myself making a trip to the fabric shop for more black in order to make an entire, impromptu quilt.

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Giant DP block made in less than one hour!

If I had had enough black at home I reckon I could easily have run up a quilt top in a day. I seem to have become slightly addicted to making John’s quick and easy DP units as I have now have plans to add a “snake in the grass” style border!

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A NEW SPIN ON DRUNKARD’S PATH by John Kubiniec is available from

www.ctpub.com

www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.amazon.com

www.bigrigquilting.com

Enter the Giveaway
Win a free copy of John Kubiniec’s new book, “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” – just leave a comment and check back on October 9th for the randomly-drawn winner (UK blog readers will receive an Ebook)

 The blog tour 
September 26, 2016 Jenifer Dick www.42quilts.com

C&T Publishing http://www.ctpub.com/blog/
September 27, 2016 Sara Lawson www.sewsweetness.com/blog

Heather Kojan http://www.heatherkojan.com
September 28, 2016 Bill Volckening http://willywonkyquilts.blogspot.com

McCall’s Quilting http://www.mccallsquilting.com/blogs/

 

September 29, 2016 Teri Lucas https://terificreations.com

Bonnie Hunter http://quiltville.blogspot.com
September 30, 2016 made by ChrissieD http://madebychrissied.blogspot.com

LoveBug Studios https://lovebugstudios.com/blog/
October 1, 2016
Kathy Patterson http://hillstreetquilts.blogspot.com

Teresa Coates http://www.crinkledreams.com
October 2, 2016 Carl Hentsch http://3dogdesignco.blogspot.com
October 3, 2016 Generation Q Magazine http://generationqmagazine.com

Lisa Calle https://lisacalle.wordpress.com
October 4, 2016 Linzi Upton https://thequiltquine.wordpress.com

Nicole Daksiewicz www.modernhandcraft.com/blog
October 5, 2016 Marti Michell http://frommartimichell.blogspot.com

Debby Brown http://higheredhands.blogspot.com
October 6, 2016 Melody Crust http://melodycrust.blogspot.com/

Kim Niedzwiecki http://www.gogokim.com
October 7, 2016 Patrick Lose http://www.patricklose.com
John Kubiniec https://bigrigquilting.com/blog/

Little by Little

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It is not often that a customer gets muddled and does not turn up for a quilting session but when they do I am secretly delighted as it is like having an unexpected day off. I caught up with my paperwork then decided to make a giant Drunkard’s Path sample block that I would use for John Kubiniec’s Blog Hop to publicise his new book, “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path”. My blog-hop post will appear on Tuesday 4th October www.bigrigquilting.com My sample block appears to have led to an entirely new, unanticipated quilt for which I have had to purchase additional fabric to make the groovy “snake in the grass” borders!

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This quilt will have to wait in a queue as I also worked on my Civil War tumblers quilt in between DIY customer bobbin changes then found myself ordering a batch of Scandi-Style Christmas fabrics in case I have time to run up a festive quilt for Freya at Uni!

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I attached the freezer-paper template for Shield Maiden and sewed a heavy duty straight stitch all the way around. The linen looks like a crumpled mess when it is not actually on the ironing board and as you can see in the photos, there is not much to look at so far. The next challenge on a day without interruptions is to cut out the openings and hope it is actually possible to iron the raw edge of the stiff linen under to form a reverse appliqué edge.

I ran up some cute bags for the computer mice at school to stop them all getting tangled up together then decided to do the same in tartan for the iPad chargers. I have also reduced the size of the hanging pod pattern that I decided would look better as a small gourd than a melon but I have not made it as a prototype yet, reasoning that I had other more urgent things to do. However, I am looking forward to attending a mini workshop on washing-line baskets which I can imagine might become quite addictive…

RandR with TT and Friends

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After yet another hectic week working on customer quilts and being at school it was great to stay with Ellen overnight then meet Kay for brunch in IKEA near Edinburgh before visiting the Scottish Quilt Championships. Kay had several customer quilts in the show as well as a super new kaleidoscope quilt, “Brewster’s Reflections”. For some daft reason my camera battery was dead so I have posted Facebook photos of the quilts but I’m sure Kay will have some good ones on her blog www.borderlinequilter.blogspot

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Tartan Tattoo came 2nd in large wall quilts and was awarded a judge’s choice certificate by Susan Briscoe! It seemed to be a popular quilt with the visitors which is hardy surprising at a Scottish show;)

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I finally found a day in which to iron Vilene onto my piece of linen and the woad dyed shawl. Drawing out the shield maiden motif onto freezer paper and cutting it out neatly was tricky but it is now ready to attempt the reverse appliqué which I hope to do in a few spare hours before my first classroom observation in 20+ years. I am telling myself not to get in a pickle over the latest teacherish jargon and just carry on regardless. If it all goes pear-shaped I will just have to carve out a career as a quilt artist:P

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Washing Away the Blues

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I am finding teaching part-time in school regularly for 2 days a week challenging. I am now beholden to write lengthy plans and learn the latest, pointless jargon, both of which sap my time and enthusiasm. I guess I just not quite plucked up the courage to declare myself a bona-fide textile artist who can actually earn a living. Currently in my over-crowded week, I can have 2-3 days of DIY quilters, 2 days in school, some customer quilts and very little time to experiment.

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However, I was determined to dye the wool for “Shield Maiden” this weekend. I had a buff coloured Indian wool shawl and a couple of old wool blankets. Dyeing with woad was fascinating but long-winded. The process is similar to dealing with indigo dye but was further complicated with preparing the wool for dyeing. It took a whole day of dipping and exposing the woad dye to the air to get a deep enough hue. I wish my Chemistry A Level had been half as exciting as the mixing and measuring I had to do with all of my powders and potions. I even had to test the pH of my solution with litmus paper! The wool blanket was just wishy-washy in the woad dye bath so I decided to run it through the machine with Hungarian dyes. Even though it had been mordanted, the colour all washed away until I remembered that I had some acid dye for wool stashed away and finally achieved the royal blue that I had been looking for. I am not sure whether the now felted blue wool is too thick so I also have the fine wool shawl as an alternative.

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Mind you, what was meant to be a fun afternoon became very stressful as the washing machine broke down before I had done any of the weekend’s laundry. It had to be taken apart to cough up some trash (ahem – wool gunge amongst other random objects) that had  clogged up the pump. While dealing with a non-draining machine, dip-dyeing with woad and doing a customer quilt, Fergus got me to act as his roadie to change the strings on his guitar after he had taken off the old set and forgotten how to wind on the new ones – in about 10 minutes before he was due to debut with his school’s Soul Band!

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I have tried to make samples to decide which method of appliqué to use on “Shield Maiden”. I like the edges folded under but can’t get super-sharp points with the coarse linen so I may have to add curves to my original design so the linen can bend where it has to change direction. I have already ruled out piecing as the materials are too thick. I had a go at rune-like designs using satin-stitch but it is not “right” so I will have another think about that element.

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I made a prototype hot water bottle cover to work out whether to add binding on the outside or not and learned that my overlocker could not deal with the tight curves of the hottie’s shoulders. Freya was delighted to receive a “hottie” to match her quilt in a parcel from home. I expect she will tell me to stop sending her stuff after a while. This week I had a go at making a prototype pair of PJ shorts which may get posted off to Uni. Funny how quite a few projects don’t ever make it past the prototype phase;)

Back to School 2016

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I finally arrived home from FOQ around 10pm on Monday night after delays on the road and a detour to a fabric outlet in Lancaster.

I left all of my luggage in the Landy and went to school the next morning without unpacking to give the new teacher some moral support on the first day of term. We are job-sharing in a very small school where it is pretty challenging to have pupils aged 5-12 in one class. I will be working on Thursdays and Fridays covering more hands-on activities such as baking, making and practical maths. I had a slight technical hitch with the stupid interactive board which was projecting everything upside down. I flooded the classroom floor when I went off for my break-time coffee leaving the slow draining water-play tank unattended. The children had been used investigating capacity and volume so it was quite amusing to work out how many buckets were needed to empty it. They all managed to use the sewing machine to hem some simple cushions printed with super-hero fabric for the school library and I helped them to apply popper-snap closures instead of zips.

By Friday night I felt that my GandT was well deserved, having caught up on emails, taken Freya to do some Uni shopping and got back into the routine of after school activities and kids’ social lives. When my customer quilting gets going again goodness knows when I will be able to fit in my plans for show quilts. As usual, I have a few ideas on the back burner but there are two that I hope to tackle for next year…

Freya and I ran up 2 very snazzy, roomy laundry bags for lights and darks. They have a drawstring and a carry handle so the Student can easily take them to the launderette instead of coming home for the weekend with an enormous pile of washing;)

All Geared Up

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I finished Freya’s 1930’s inspired quilt and added a pieced tartan binding so it should brighten up her student room. I expect her room will be very colourful after we have made a couple of laundry bags and cushions and she has garlanded it with fairy lights. We made a start on collecting household goods for her Off-to-Uni list, agreeing that it is a good job we have the Landy to shift all of her gear and a bicycle!

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Freya suggested that it would be a great idea to use the modern-vintage dress pattern that we bought 2 years ago to run up a party-frock with a large Amy Butler print. There were rather a lot of pieces and even though we had cut out the paper pattern ages ago, it took a whole day to match the large-scale pattern and cut out the fabric. This left one day to create a dress that would be ready by 6.30pm latest.

I know I am a bit Pattern Phobic but she is normally pretty good at working out instructions and we have to say that they were abysmal! There was a lot of information missing and pieces of fabric that were not actually required in the end as if they had just recycled the instructions from a different dress pattern. Some grayscale photos were the only clues we had on how to construct pleats. We did not do it correctly but they actually worked out OK. I changed the way the invisible zip went in and messed up turning the bodice magically through the shoulders. My workshop was as messy as it has ever been and it was very stressful keeping an eye on the time. I am in awe of the “Sewing Bee” contestants – I am surprised that nobody has dropped dead during filming;) In the end, with minutes to spare, I released the pleats, overlocked the hem and Freya wore it to the party with a safety pin tuck at the back and a belt to pull it in a touch. It was admired by her friends enough that we think we will finish the hem off properly and make a couple of darts in the back some day.

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I spent another half day in school discussing the timetable with the other part-time teacher, simultaneously rearranging the staff kitchen cupboards and rummaging for maths books. At least everything looks organised which we hope will provide a calm atmosphere when term starts.

Despite waking up at 4am because of a weird dream that FOQ was being held in confusing, voluminous tents and the quilt angels could not be bothered to hang “Touch the Pickle”, I think I have actually packed everything for my week away. Considering that I have been going to FOQ for 10 years now I should feel pretty laid back about my preparations. I have checked everything off my list, ensured that I have included teabags and Schweppes tonic, packed too many outfits but still can’t shake off the nagging feeling that I might have forgotten something. I daresay that once I have filled up with diesel, tuned into Radio 4 and headed south, I will look forward to spending a week away with quilters from around the world!

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!