Category Archives: Quilting

Marmalade and Jeans

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The kids had two days off school for teacher training days so I took Nell to see “Paddington2” at the cinema. We laughed and cried at the small bear’s antics and wished we had taken marmalade sandwiches as our movie snack.

I chopped up a pile of old jeans into squares and raided my stash for any additional fabric that could pass as denim. My arithmetic skills failed me when trying to work out how many blocks would be needed if cutting out a positive and negative letter for the giant wordsearch quilt that I have in mind. Despite making a list and crossing off letters as I went along. I seem to have a few extra that might end up in another reincarnation. On the whole the Scanncut made a good job apart from spitting out the cutting mat when the dodgy roller became dislodged. The biggest problem was that denim backed with Bondaweb would stick well but not cut nicely, whereas the fabric backed with HeatnBond cut nicely but hardly stuck at all, even when ironed. The tedious solution was to stitch all of the letters in place using a small zigzag and invisible thread, otherwise the letters will just fall off when it comes to sewing the blocks together!

In the middle of the week I wrote down a Plan of the Day in big writing and managed to whizz through several jobs without getting distracted. This included 2 customer quilts, both of which also had to be bound.

  

One evening I sewed the second half of the Fancy Forest bunny block and had to concentrate not to muddle up the many pieces. It is cute when finished but I will definitely cheat and enlarge the sizes of any future blocks as I don’t want it to be a 5 year project. In fact, I reckon I could rattle off a DWR quilt more speedily.

It was great to receive an acceptance email from the Road to California show for BzB – my friend, Bonnie in Oklahoma has kindly agreed to look after all of its deliveries while in the USA. I have entered it into a couple of AQS shows so I will just have to wait and see if it gets juried in. I think I have now settled on an idea for a new show quilt from my wacky list of potential ideas so I hope to have a crack at at test block in January and see how it develops…

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Sticking With It

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My plan was to work on customer quilts for 4 days then leave Friday to experiment with the ScannCut machine. I managed to stick to that plan fairly impressively, working on 3 different customer quilts. There was a lovely leafy appliqué quilt then a large blue and white quilt where the back was the same size as the front and had the additional challenge of bulky intersections, followed by a baby quilt that also needed piecing as it was actually a box of 40 hand stitched squares.

   

   

The free day on Friday was scuppered by having to get the Landy’s dodgy headlamps fixed which only left me with an afternoon to play. I was not pleased to discover that the ScannCut machine was loading the cutting mats lopsidedly. After a frustrating amount of time spent cleaning and huffing I even contemplated blowing almost £500 to buy a brand new one before noticing that one of the little black rubber rollers had gone out of alignment.

I wanted to find out if it could speed up the process of cutting out DWR pieces which on balance, it just about does. It cannot cut out the large pinched square piece because that is just a smidge too big but it can mass produce little bits although they have slightly sticky backs where I used spray glue to get them to stick to the cutting surface.

   

My main challenge with the cutting machine was to cut out a stack of large denim letters for a quilt that I am planning. The trouble with that was that denim backed with Bondaweb did not seem to cut cleanly whereas denim backed with the HeatnBond cut well but was not sufficiently sticky. I was hoping not to have to stitch around the letters before longarming but if they keep peeling off I may have to – goodness knows how tricky that will be with all that stickiness under the needle!

Jobs like paperwork, tidying up and cleaning my printer seem to have been forwarded to next week’s To Do list – again;)

On Track and Side Tracked

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I stayed on track fairly well this week, only sidetracking a couple of times! I was determined to finish the remaining samples for my upcoming class in Coburg so put in a couple of long quilting days to finish a wool folk-art piece and the pleather rendition of a St Moritz drain cover in fake leather.

 

 

I even got a customer quilt done which was tricky with absolutely no wriggle room on the backing.

The sidetracks were an experiment to see if I could make little pouches using foam interfacing – I decided that they were too bulky, a fabric strip covered bowl – not sure I liked all the fraying/wrapping, and some more giant double-wedding-ring blocks using clashing Nigerian fabrics.

   

It is alarming that the clocks have gone back and we are now into November – I simply don’t know where all my time goes;)

Making Lots of Mess

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During the school holidays it feels like there must be some kind of formula such as h = 2t – p otherwise known as “holidays mean more time but less productivity”. For example, the more I remind a certain teenage boy about homework, the less he is inclined to do it!

There was a severe weather warning at the beginning of the week but in the end it missed us. I think that was because I stocked up on baking potatoes and charged all of my gadgets in case of a power cut.

I completed 2 faux eiderdowns for Mo’ customer using very fat poly wadding, updating the tatty brushed nylon for pink silk. I ended up with silk threads everywhere and had made quite a mess working on my secret project so it was time to get the hoover out. It did not take long for me to mess it up again as fallen leaves kept getting dragged in and I cut out about a million small pieces of pleather. And I had to scrub spray glue off my table. I must remember to stash away some old newspapers in future!

  

I had hoped to cut out a tricky pattern from faux-leather using the San-n-Cut machine but the pattern was too intricate and it was not really big enough at a maximum size of 12” square. I had to resort to the old-school technology of an overhead-projector. The results were a bit sketchy as I traced the projected acetate image using a Sharpie pen onto paper taped to a board that was propped up on the table with a chair behind it. I realised afterwards that I did not have to draw around every single detail and my second attempt was an improvement. I had to abandon the attempt to cut out the pattern using a craft knife as only tiny scissors would do the job.

The pleather project will be offered to my German students as an extra challenge if they get the mini wholecloth and the other one (which I still need to make up as a kit) finished in 2 days. I think that one will involve wool felt because my plan is to explore a wide variety of materials, threads and techniques with the Bernina longarm machine.

Knowing that the week ahead brings visitors, a birthday and various outings, I cracked on with a customer quilt. The pattern requested was umbrellas which was very appropriate in weather so wet that my workshop carpet now needs drying out. I want to keep on top of customer quilts because it is inevitable that there will soon be a pre-Christmas rush;)

Remind Me Not To Do This Again!

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I finished the first sample for my classes in Germany – a small whole cloth loosely based on BzB. I actually got a bit carried away and did more quilting than I intended so by the time I quilted the background with a twin needle it was quite stitchy;) The project took a fair while so I will have to make my pupils sew FAST! I have a couple of other samples to run up by the end of October so the students have some idea of what they will be working on.

  

Bumble was not speaking to me after her proper Scottie Dog haircut, she looks very smart, although quite hilarious so Mo and I may just take a little bit more off her legs so she looks less comical. She was mightily offended when the kids laughed at her!

Socially, I judged Battenberg cake at a WRI meeting where I was the speaker and attended an alcoholic Book Group, which I enjoyed so much that I offered to choose the next book and host the Readers.

My Sunday night blog feels rushed after spending 2 whole days in the workshop, working on a semi secret project for Nell’s birthday. I followed the instructions as carefully as I could but forgot to include the pocket that I had made, seemed to end up with a slight lining fit problem and resorted to hand sewing some binding because the item could not squash under my sewing machine. I am a little disappointed by the finish but looking at the original photo of how the finished article is meant to look, concede that mine comes pretty close. If I make a thing like this in future I think a zip should be involved.

The midterm break has started so I will need a Plan of Action to keep everyone fed, get on with some quilting and catch up on the mountain of laundry that I did not do while making the above said “thing”…

Perseverance Pays Off

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I had 2 ladies in doing DIY quilts for 3 days in a row and quilting like crazy, 10 quilts were completed! I would love to have more weeks like that and would be able to turn down supply teaching offers guilt-free.

With some trepidation I tackled a wedding quilt that was a montage of black and white photos and written messages. I was a bit worried about some of the fabrics which included dress linen, sheeting, interfacing and T-shirt transfer vinyl but the machine just took it all in its stride with silvery Glide on top and Madeira cotton in the bobbin.

On Thursday I took the day off, caught up with friends for coffee and went on a jolly with Mo to a Christmas Fayre where we ended up buying ourselves treats, rather than Christmas presents for others. I keep telling myself that I will have an opportunity to do that when I visit the Christmas market in Coburg when I return to teach at Regina Klaus’ studio at the beginning of December.

After sulking a little about BzB’s lacklustre performance at MQX, I was delighted that Linda Hrcka (The Quilted Pineapple) awarded it her faculty ribbon. She is one of my most favourite, awesome quilters so that really gave me a boost. BzB has now gone to stay with my friend, Bonnie Botts, until it gets sent off to other USA show in 2018.

I persevered with the Dreaded Scanncut machine and successfully cut out samples of denim letters for one of my potential projects. I used Steam-a-Seam instead of Bondaweb and starched the fabric thoroughly, writing down everything that worked so hopefully it will co-operate another time. It was still rubbish at cutting paper and labels until I got a new blade except that it wanted to cut out everything dark coloured, including text. I have figured a simple way around this by just plonking a shape on top of a sticker and cutting out the shape. I have watched some helpful and other not so helpful tutorials on simple stuff that I want to do on Youtube but other than that, it’s still all Greek to me! It is a machine that can be extremely complicated if you want it to but I just want it to cut out fiddly shapes without having a hissy fit.

I achieved a lot of stuff on my ToDo list for the week then promptly jotted down a new one which seems even longer. Never mind, I seem to get more done when there is more to do.

I must apologise to anyone who has left comments on Blogger – sometimes they don’t show up for ages and then it won’t let me reply so I must fix that. I appreciate everyone who reads my blog, particularly if they go to the effort of leaving a comment:)

Is this my Comeuppance?

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It’s been a funny old week where I have felt rather busy but not entirely sure what I have actually done. I had a go at filming a couple of demos on couching and using a twin needle on the Q24 using a machine mounted GoPro and a tripod mounted camera but I have not got sufficient editing skills to tie the 2 different views together. Much time can be wasted in this way, just like figuring out how to get sketchy diagrams to look more professional without any actual graphics design capabilities at all.

My Scan n Cut machine arrived but my initial efforts did not go well. After watching several Youtube video demos, I ordered a replacement sticky mat, a spare blade and a whole gamut of potentially handy items. I wonder if a machine like that should be bought from a shop like a sewing machine dealer where you get after sales training;)

I confess that I was disappointed that BzB did not win any accolades at MQX. I began to doubt myself and wonder if it is not up to scratch for shows in the USA. According to the judging sheet my quilting needs some improvement, as does my colouring in… I have entered it into Road to California so we will have to see if it fares any better there.

I also did what I call a lot of faffing around, deciding what to teach in Germany at the beginning of December, ordered thread cards from Madeira, gathered materials for a possible arty series, looked up the Chinese meaning of “Wu”, and had a go at a couple of blocks for the Fancy Forest quilt.

This quilt has been on my quilt bucket list for a while. I thought it would make a nice, therapeutic background project. Some of the animals have rather a lot of pieces, in fact, rather a lot of tiny pieces. Despite cutting and sewing carefully, I had some issues with accuracy. IF I decide to stick with this rather fiddly project I am going to double the size of the pieces so the animals are twice their normal size and I won’t have to make so many!

  

I wondered if I would like a background project with bigger pieces so I had a crack at a Victoria Findlay Wolfe DWR. Apart from working out exactly where ¼” from each end is, this was far more satisfying to construct. I wonder whether I should buy some fabric to make myself a whole quilt or whether I should just throw every ugly offcut that I have into the mix.

My Mother asked if I might be able to run up a baby quilt some time in October but I decided to just strike while the iron was hot, grab some stash fabric and run up some 5” squares on a rainy afternoon. A computer pattern called “Candyland” finished it off and a binding was quickly applied. A finished quilt always gives a greater sense of achievement than any amount of admin, research or general faffing about!

On Having a Mind like a Stone Tumbler

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As if I need any more machines or gadgets in my life, after asking for opinions about scanner/cutter machines on Facebook, I ended up buying one from Gillian Travis who thought it would be a great idea but never had time to experiment with it! I have already wasted several hours looking at what it can do on Youtube;) I think it has much potential for a variety of ideas that are trundling around in my head. In fact, I feel as if my mind is rather like one of those stone tumbling machines that churns around the clock until eventually something polished is produced some considerable time later.

I am on the point of ordering fabric to start on something which is probably not the same something I thought I was going to work on a couple of weeks ago. I have been looking for something substantial to get my teeth into since finishing BzB but a long summer happened in between. Typically, now I have at least 3 projects that I want to work on… I have even cut out 2 blocks for the Elizabeth Hartmann Fancy Forest quilt but I am unsure as to whether I can cope with so many small pieces. I would probably be better off working on a far simpler background project for relaxation.

Bumble bounced back from her operation to have mammary tumours removed. Far from moping around with a lampshade on for days, she ignored the comfy dog-bed that I prepared and jumped straight up onto the sofa as if her under-carriage had not just been cut open and patchworked back together. She was not totally impressed at having to wear a festival t-shirt out for a walk so the wound site would stay clean.

  

Two customer quilts were completed this week using automated quilting. On the Christmas quilt I had to supervise closely so the appliquéd racoons did not get caught up with the quilting foot. The customer wanted allover snowflakes so I had to remove some buttons and bows before I started. The second quilt was a rush job for a student studying aeronautical engineering so clouds and planes seemed like a good idea.

  

There are one or two things on my Perpetual To Do list that will be carried on into next week, such as attempting to make a video on couching yarns with a longarm machine and backing up my Mac, well over a year since I last bothered. I sincerely hope I get SOME purposeful sewing done by at least midweek!

All Systems Go

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Hopefully the reorganising bug that I caught seems to have subsided for now after I have rummaged in the depths of my pantry and even hoovered ancient cobwebs. The thing about my clear-outs is that it eventually makes way for more vintage finds and handy gadgets. I should really start my own junk shop…

BzB arrived back from FOQ so Freya and I inspected BzB for loose thread and fluff before it got sent to MQX. We made a very tentative attempt to block it to remove a slight bulge in the middle bottom that I noticed at FOQ after it had been flipped to show off its backside a few times. Realistically, it is impossible to block a quilt that should not get wet in case its colours run so all we could do was measure, pin and dampen the binding. As a thank you for her patience, I made Freya a cushion from a woolly jumper that I had accidentally washed too hot. I had to empty 2 silly triangular feather cushions to make a sensible square inner-pad so it looked like I had been plucking chooks for the pot outside my workshop!

Much to Freya’s chagrin, I determined that “we” would conquer the setup of Bernina Qmatic – she was just there for moral support while I figured out what to connect. It was hugely exciting to switch it all on for the first time and see if it worked. Fortunately, it was all systems go with lots to learn. It is quite different to the APQS Quilt Path. It is like switching between Windows and Mac – both equally powerful but different to operate. The Art and Stitch software looks challenging but it will enable me to have a go at proper digitising. I will have to schedule learning time for the new system and software. I spent an entire day just testing out the basic features and stitched out a few designs.

As a reward for all of Freya’s help this week I decided to use the large Qmatic sample from FOQ to make a couple of throws for her student flat. It was simply a quilt sandwich with lots of example stitch-outs so I added wavy cross-hatching to fill up the gaps. There was a spare piece that I cut off and Bumble seems to have decided that she would like to use it while she is in the workshop, mostly sleeping, because she does not find quilting the least bit interesting.

The only actual sewing I did all week was some mundane mending! I was all set to work on some ideas for future quilts, knowing that I had efficiently filed a document on my laptop. However, despite a lengthy search I discovered that it had completely disappeared. I was lucky that at least some of the ideas were in scribble form in my notebook. As usual, I am not short of ideas but I need to decide which ones might actually work;)

Meanwhile I have a packed week ahead to get ready for my trip to France, sending Freya back to Uni, and organising the other 2 kids during my absence.

Beelzebub’s Long Story

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This was a quilt that had an usually long making process. It all began about 10 years ago when I attended a class on drafting a traditional Durham whole cloth with a well known British quilter from the north of England, Lilian Hedley. She provided some drawings of motifs from antique Durham quilts and showed the students how to draw large feathers using old English pennies onto baking paper. Lilian explained that Durham wholecloths were usually drawn onto cotton sateen fabric then hand quilted very simply with a cross-hatch background. I never intended my design to be quilted in this way as I am a longarm quilter and I wanted to use a non-traditional fabric, maybe even gold lamé.

In the end, I folded up the paper design and put it away in a box because I could not decide what to do with it. I thought about it every now and then but I was distracted by making other projects such as a Quilted Yurt, a Smart Car Cover, a series of Viking inspired wholecloths on metallic fabric and a Coracle. I kept thinking about the Durham wholecloth design and mentioned it on my blog several times over the years. It actually made me feel guilty that it was a long-abandoned project and I named it “Beezlebub” because it seemed like a demon of a quilt.

 

Eventually, I chose to use basic, wide calico that I dyed pink in the washing machine and I started tracing the wholecloth design using a Frixion pen and a light box. This was tricky since the baking paper had become brittle and fragile with age. Having now seen beautiful machine quilted feathers at quilt shows my Durham style feathers seemed rather big and ugly. My plan was to start with the very traditional wholecloth design then work out how to make it unconventional. I kept thinking that it could all go horribly wrong.

 

At some point I decided that my wholecloth design could become an anti-establishment wholecloth by giving it a pieced back which may end up being the front. There was no piecing plan – it was just a random selection of blocks in a colour palette from the Scottish landscape. Most of the colours I selected were harmoniously heathery but once those began to run short I simply used what I had managed to dye; not to mention an anarchic use of fine silk and heavy, rough linen.

The pieced BzB quilt ended up at almost 2.5m square and I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, spending several weeks creating a monster with its own agenda. It was a long way off what I had originally intended but I found it to be an interesting process.  I learned to enjoy freestyle curved piecing and appreciate that some forward planning may have been useful.

For a time I considered renaming the quilt, “Highland Fling”, thinking I could say that ceilidh dances and the Scottish landscape had been my influences all along as there was a combination of the constraints of traditional blocks and the wild abandon of how it all went together.

I still had not decided whether to continue with my original plan of quilting a very traditional wholecloth design onto a very unsymmetrical pieced quilt with no obvious centre. I had always intended to make the background of the wholecloth far more interesting than the main design but I was constantly arguing with myself on whether this quilt may need require far more contemporary quilting to pull it all together. Yet again I decided to put the quilt away until I had made up my mind. Quite simply, I found BzB intimidating and I was too scared to start something that had taken me so long.

I was coming up close to the deadlines for entering quilt shows earlier this year (2017) so I pulled out the long abandoned BzB anti-establishment wholecloth project. I stared at it for a long time, jotting down a few notes on how it might be tackled. Its biggest problem seemed to be the vast amount of negative space which should traditionally be filled with ½” diagonal lines. I thought about it for ages then made some extra templates and decided to fill up that space since a) I am not making a modern quilt and b) I am not making a traditional quilt and c) because I felt like it!

 

I was expecting to have 3 custom quilts to do in May but their makers did not finish them so I had no choice other than to load the rather large “BzB” onto the Q24 frame and make an attempt to get it done in time for FOQ. I decided that if I committed to enter it into the show then I would just have to get it done;)

  

I was irritated to discover that I had not saved a whole pack of wool wadding and that the under layer of black wadding was not wide enough. Yet again, I questioned why I had made BzB so big. I phoned several UK quilt shops but none were able to guarantee next day delivery or even had what I wanted in stock. There was only one solution which was to join all of the leftover bits of wadding together. The huge pieces that I reconstructed were then generously spritzed with water and laid out to relax because the wool wadding that come in packs is always impossibly creased.

I have to admit that BzB was making me very nervous. It had been waiting for a long time  and had to be sewn upside down with the piecing on the back for me to be able to see the quilt markings. I had to get perfect stitch tension on both sides since I intended for it to be displayed as a double-sided quilt. I tried out different threads, including a wool blend which looked great on the top but was not so nice on the back because the colour was not right. I was faced with the choice of ordering some more thread, sight-unseen online or making do with something else. In the end I decided that since BzB was a bit anti-establishment so I would start with a 30wt neon pink cotton just because I had it on a huge spool.

I overcame my fear, plucked up some courage and began the outline quilting on BzB. I went VERY slowly in manual mode because that it simply the smoothest way to quilt around a drawn line.

I really wished I had allowed myself a year to work on this large quilt, instead of a few weeks as there was so much that I wanted to do and I could not think how it would get done by the deadline.

Pretty much all I did for a full week was quilt with pink thread so it was a good job that some of it was variegated, just for the occasional surprise.

After a 10 second discussion with myself, I decided to quilt tiny spirals in the half-inch quilted piano keys because I knew I could not bear to leave them empty. Then I started on the marathon task of stitching small spirals and swirls in the background which was back-breaking because I like to have my nose as far over the quilt as I as I can and I don’t have a hydraulic lift on the Q24 table. Frankly, it was quite boring at times and progress seemed to be slow because it was so large. Even Bumble, my Scottie Dog, thought it was tedious and went outside to watch the grass grow.

It could be said that BzB had 5 main phases of construction – the designing/drawing/tracing the whole cloth pattern, piecing, quilting the main motifs, quilting the background and finally, after a very long 2 weeks – the colouring which was done with Derwent Intense pencils painted with aloe vera gel. I have to admit that this stage felt everlasting at times. I even got a blister on my finger by gripping the colouring pencils so tightly.

  

After the colouring was complete I began re-quilting all of the large motifs on BzB with wool thread to add definition. I only held my breath a few times and to my amazement, it went far better than expected. I ordered more 110 wool needles and I used every single one of them. Thick layers of batting, bulky seams and paint soon cause needles to go blunt.

The second round of quilting took another long time but I knew the way around the quilt this time. There were times when I became incredibly bored with the monotony but after I passed halfway in the middle of the week I was encouraged to get it finished. I had to remind myself not to get over excited for the last few feathers as it was so tempting to rush to the end.

 

It was such a relief to get the quilt off the frame at last. Squaring it up took me a few hours – I could not just measure out from the feather border all around as it turned out that I obviously had not drawn it squarely in the first place. I was amazed that the 2 opposite sides matched each other when I measured them. The outer edges were not too wavy and flattened down nicely after some serious dampening. I managed to get the quilt bound, labelled and packed up ready for FOQ in time for the school summer holidays, having worked non-stop for 6 weeks. It is impossible to say exactly how long BzB took but I would guess that it could have been well over 600 hours from start to finish!

  

On the day before FOQ opened I missed a call informing me that I was a winner so when I arrived at the show early on the day that it opened I was amazed and delighted to discover that it was the winner of the FOQ 2017 Contemporary Quilts category! It was the first time that I had even seen BzB hanging up and it was wonderful to receive congratulations from everyone. I had worked on this quilt for so long that I really was not sure if anyone else would like it. It was interesting that some people liked the pieced back even more than the coloured wholecloth front. BzB is a quilt that I am so happy to see finished after such a long time and many sleepless nights of wondering whether I should just abandon it because I could not decide what to do with it. Hopefully, this should encourage anyone with a long forgotten UFO that it might get finished one day.

 

Short but Productive Week

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After catching up on a whole heap of laundry including foosty sleeping bags, I had to tackle some long overdue paperwork. Even Bumble found this chore dull – I wondered where she had gone for a sulk then discovered she had gone into sleep mode under my desk, camouflaged on a black sheepskin rug.

Because I had spent weeks working on BzB, I had a few customer quilts to tackle before I got caught up in preparations for Festival of Quilts. Luckily they were all modesty sized so I managed to complete FOUR in the few days I had left in a short week. I successfully dealt with a couple of short backings, wavy borders and one or two burst seams.

I have two more large quilts to do before I can plan my FOQ demos and pack my bags, all still in the throes of the kids’ summer holidays, sleepovers and dietary requirements ranging from pescatarian and veggie to borderline vegan (don’t ask)!

BzB is Done and Summer Hols Begin!

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It took a few hours to sew the reverse of BzB’s binding by hand as I had to make sure that the stitches did not show at all. I decided to make a top sleeve in the end so if quilt judges don’t think the back is up to scratch then it will have to come off at a later stage. I added a subtle label to the pieced side and blocked it to straighten out the edges. It was not measured scientifically so I hope its weight will make it hang well enough.

  

I remembered that Shield Maiden is also going to FOQ – it did not seem to have been blocked before and also required a label. After getting both of the quilts ready to pack I had that weird feeling that I experience after finishing every major project. It is a combination of not being able to believe it is complete and also wondering what I should be doing to fill my time. I even considered preparing some piecing to take on holiday but thankfully I decided that several bottles of wine and some good books would do just as well.

I loaded the kids, booze, festival trolley, bucket BBQ, and Bumble into the Landy late on Saturday morning and we set off on our road-trip to a cottage near Ullapool in North West Scotland. We took the scenic route, the last part of which was on single-track roads with sheep roaming freely. The cottage has magnificent views over Broom (sea) Loch and the Summer Isles. The weather forecast for the week is poor but we packed plenty of sensible clothing although Fergus may been seen wearing a floral raincoat because he decided against taking his own waterproof.

  

We spent Sunday pottering around on the rocky shore, glimpsing seals in the waves. Bumble was exhausted after scrambling gamely over the rocks. Surprisingly, nobody else wanted to sample limpets boiled in seawater and I have to report that my curiosity is now satisfied. Without any parsley, garlic or butter to hand, they are gross! We have no major plans for our week apart from some exploring, fish and chips, and contentedly watching rain stream down the windows. If the sun comes out it will be a bonus but not essential for  us to enjoy a fun holiday.

Major Progress with BzB!

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I loaded up a brand new, shiny bobbin case with wool thread and went to Radio Silence for the first couple of hours re-quilting all of the large motifs on BzB. I only held my breath a few times and to my amazement, it went far better than expected. Early on I decided to order ten more 110 wool needles to add to the three I already had and I used every single one of them. Let’s just say that thick layers of batting, seams involving linen and paint soon dull needles. The quilting took a long time but I knew the way around the quilt this time. There were times when I was bored to tears with the monotony but after I passed halfway in the middle of the week I was encouraged to get it finished. I had to remind myself not to get over excited for the last few feathers as it was so tempting to romp to the end.

 

It was such a relief to get the quilt off the frame at last. I did a quick tidy of stray threads and will do a thorough check later. The back looks good but I still don’t know whether the judges will pick me up on the little knots that have built up here and there. I love the look of the wool thread so I think I am OK with a few little blips.

 

BzB is a monstrously heavy quilt and takes some man-handling. Squaring up took me a few hours – I could not just measure out from the feather border all around as it turned out that I obviously had not drawn it squarely in the first place. There was some creative fudging so I was amazed that the 2 opposite sides matched each other when I measured them. The outer edges are not too wavy and should flatten down after some serious dampening.

I decided to go for a top hanging sleeve even if the quilt does not get shown double-sided but I am not sure if it will look as neat as I would like yet. Mind you, when it is hanging up over 90” from the floor, it will be difficult to scrutinise. I attached the shot cotton binding by machine on the front and will try to get most of the finger-puncturing hand finishing done during the week so I might not have to take it away on holiday! There is a fair bit of titivating still to do – checking to see if that the painted bits need touching up, deciding whether to add a few sparkly crystals, re-colouring the spirals inside the flat-iron shapes that look like a cartoon character has been knocked unconscious, reattaching the label that I sewed on wonkily, and finally – BLOCKING!

Beezlebub’s Endurance Test

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I can’t remember a quilt project being quite as all consuming as Beelzebub since the Yurt or The Smart Car. If anything, this quilt is even more intense as there is a tight deadline  to get it finished in time for FOQ, taking into account the school holidays, and I want it to be over and beyond a basic bastardisation of a whole cloth quilt. If I had more time I would probably even add even more extras such as beads.

   

My days have involved at least 9 hours scribbling away with Derwent Intense pencils, carefully adding aloe-vera gel without splurging any onto the quilt background and using the smallest possible paintbrushes to add metallic paint highlights. I have not been anywhere or seen anyone except for a mad dash to the grocery shop for essentials or walking the dogs in the persistent rain. My emails remain unanswered and a pile of unopened post is stacking up on my desk.

The General Election largely passed me by, apart from the incessant analysis on Radio 4. I am now convinced that one of the characters from farming soap, The Archers, will either die or run away at the Isle of Wight Festival just to spice the listeners’ lives up a bit. I think that most of the British Public will feel strike poses like Bumble if we are faced with yet another election in the near future…

If I manage to put in the same amount of time in the coming week I may just finish the colouring to allow a maximum of two weeks for the second quilting on the large motifs. That is actually beginning to worry me – do I honestly think I can stitch right on top of the previous stitching with wool thread, around the coloured or painted sections with absolutely nowhere to hide?

It would be nice to think that the next project I do may be slightly easier or at least smaller;)

Missing in Action

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There almost was no blogpost this evening as I have been totally absorbed with adding colour to Beelzebub with Derwent Intense pencils and a gel to blend them in. I feel that I have bitten off far more than I can chew as just doing the bottom row of feathers took 3 days and I am not entirely happy with how they look in real life. I reckon coloring the entire quilt could take 2 weeks and I still have to requilt and add longarm embroidery to the large motifs. It really will be down to the wire with this quilt to get it done by the end of the school year! This is possibly one of my most stressful projects to date. At least I am up to date with current affairs by listening to Radio 4 for hours on end…