Tuesday 31 July 2007

New fabric arrived-Tree of Life

I've always had a thing about the Tree of Life. Perhaps it goes back to the Indian Tree china we used at home when I was little. I've been searching panels for a long time and found them at Reproduction Fabrics.
This fabulous panel is printed in Holland using the very very best processes and it shows. Gorgeous quality with a slight glaze. Nicer than some in the V&A.

These next panels were a surprise in that they are English by a company named Fabric Freedom in London only I've just seen they are based in Bradford with the designers in London. This makes sense as Yorkshire is the textile heart of England.

On the website they don't show the two cream colour variations. I'm a little doubtful about the mauve bark on the trees but I can live with it. (grin) The photo above is one colourway and the two below are the other, with the toning print.

So many of the old frame quilts (medallion) had a special print in the centre, I had almost given up finding a suitable one.

And then there was the perfect Turkey red. This colour is right unlike all the other supposed Turkey Reds I've bought. If I were being really picky, the print lies on top of the fabric rather than driven into it, but the colours are right. Perhaps the green in the print not quite so right but then the original greens were fairly dire. This one is by Blank Textiles.

Monday 30 July 2007

My Patsy Thompson feathers re-visited

Click on this to enlarge it. Because of waiting for the new batting for the big wholecloth and my hot flushes, I've gone back to this one. I've been playing with different threads to see the effects. Sometime ago when I decided I'd only quilt with fine threads, I gave most of my thicker ones to the local quilt group who are making quilts for the women's refuge. So I've played with what I have left.

This one is my favourite. Its a YLI machine quilting thread which has light teal and turquoise variations. Before this discovery of Patsy's feathers (see link on right) I really had a profound dislike of this thread but it behaves itself on this embroidery type stitching.

The purple viscose on the left goes between pink and purple. Now this is good news because there is always someone at the shows selling these very cheaply. The bright pink on the right is Madeira Poly neon in one of the few day glo colours they make.

I feel the feathers themselves need more definition and had I not used this backing which hides all the stitching completely, I'd have done some bobbin work with heavy thread between the feather and the echo line of stitch. Looks like the hunt is on for a suitable couching thread.

Can you see one of Sinclair's eyes is just open. He's wondering whether I'm going to turf him off the quilt. We bought a new bed and assembled it yesterday. This was just 2 minutes after the bed was made. I think he's under the impression it was installed for his own convenience.

Saturday 28 July 2007

Cat on quilts

Why do cats have an innate ability to get on the one quilt they should not?
This is the late Sweetheart, determinedly sitting right in the middle of this quilt to stop me pinning it. The quilting took twice as long removing the very fine white hair off black quilt, but I would love to have her back again with the same problem.
She was a silver tipped British Shorthair. She was later attacked by a fox, and had one of her back legs removed as a consequence. She was born with a congenital heart problem and only lived to about 8 years old. She was very sweet and very stupid. She had been at the very back of the queue when intelligence was handed out.
And I forgot you guys will be interested in the quilt. I made it some years ago for a charity raffle. The finished quilt is somewhere on Bethany Reynold's site. It doesn't follow her directions as I only had 11 pattern repeats so the flowers had to have eleven petals. And the fabric for the petals had cats on it of course :-)

Rambles on the weather.

I can't continue with the sample for my wholecloth until some more wool batting arrives. I've also decided I cannot face cutting away the batting on the quilt itself until the weather is cool. The weather isn't hot, just me (grin)
We spent a long time fantasizing about finding a home in the sun. I even went on a buying trip to Mykonos where my sister lives to find one. I'm so pleased I didn't. Mykonos this summer has been in the high 40ºs (well over 100ºF). People are dying in the heat. During the first lot of flooding here our news stations missed out on the dreadful time in southern Europe. People have been sleeping in the sea to cool off. The electricity companies cannot cope with the demands of the air conditioning so there have been power cuts. Quite dire.
And what do you do if you have a long haired dog like a rough collie?

Poor Daisy really hates her summer hair cut, but it does help keep her cool. About May, suddenly all the dogs in Mykonos get this sort of extreme trim.

Lying in bed you get this view. It does make it hard to get up (grin)

Thursday 26 July 2007

Machine trapunto with the lengthy cutting and an ooops!

There are a couple of dangers when cutting away machine trapunto. One is getting careless and cutting the wrong bit! You can see I cut out the wrong diamonds a couple of times. I'll fix it with sticking down with glue stick. The other is cutting through the front fabric. I have done this and had to get very creative with a fix. But not on this piece.
This is the sample piece. It's a quarter of the middle, with a bit of extra grid on the side. I'm doing this sample because some one asked what backgrounds am I going to use and I realized it would be better to do a test run to see if any stretched the fabric too far or shrinks it in to much.

You can see that with no trapuntoed grid outside the circle how it is gathered. I shall try a couple of different background fillers to see if this shrinks it in, I'll also try a bit of the grid with no trapunto.
This cutting away on just this quarter of the middle took two evenings. (our evenings are somewhat short as we generally don't have dinner until about 8pm).
I did a bit of cutting away at the Guild Area day yesterday as well. It's one of those jobs which take time and whilst not needing 100% concentration, 90% is good (grin).

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Machine Trapunto without the lengthy cutting process

You do need to click on these photos to see what I'm talking about.

I get really fed up with cutting away trapunto batting, so I thought I'd find another way. This doesn't work an all quilts but does on some. For this little quilt I needed alternate 1" squares, si Just cut them with my rotary cutter and used a glue stick to hold them on the back.
This one was a little more tricky but the trapunto shape for the feather didn't need to be exact as I was going to micro stipple right up to the edge of the feather to flatten any excess trapunto batting.
And this is how it turned out.

This is the one with the squares.

Monday 23 July 2007

Find your perfect marking pen

This method only works if you are prepared to wash your quilts in your machine.

First grab a whole load of pens (different colours of the same kind should also be tested). Write the name of each pen on a piece of fabric. Press the marked fabric with a very hot iron (this will set some of the inks) Pin this piece of fabric to an item in a wash with safety pins. I washed mine today on an everyday wash program with my white sheets. This is the same wash cycle as I would wash my quilts (though I do lower the spin speed for heavily quilted items; I don't want permanent creases).
I then put the fabric though the dryer (this is another test to make sure the heat doesn't bring the ink back). I pressed it and you can see the results below.
I was surprised to see the Zebra Antique pen turned out to be the clearest. I shall put this in my drawer of permanent markers as it faired better than the Pigma Micron. Not only is it cheaper but I can buy it locally without having to wait for the next quilt show or driving a couple of hours. It's also a rollerball, so it doesn't drag on the fabric.
I had been using the Berol Handwriting rollerball pens exclusively as these were the best when I first started using them about 10 years ago. It's nice to find I have other options.
This is what works for me. I have heard of one person who had trouble washing out the Berol, but I think she was hand washing. Another friend bought round a quilt for me to wash in my giant washing machine. It washed out of all the fabric (including a white on white) except the white stripes on a yellow and white striped fabric. Very odd, but I'm pleased to say it did wash out on the 2nd wash.
Today's test used Enzyme/biological washing liquid, but I normally wash my quilts in non bio/enzyme liquid so I shall have to run the test again.
I hope this gives you the courage to try pens available in your own countries. The very worst is you shall end up with a nice selection of pens to keep by the phone (grin).

Sunday 22 July 2007

Large quilt on small machine

I realised the photos in the old blog didn't really show a full sized quilt in a normal machine. Voldemort took this picture just now of my quilt top puddled round the area I'm working on (the very middle) of the 80" square quilt. I have 40" of quilt in the harp of the machine. OK, it doesn't have any backing on it at the moment but it is much thicker batting (Quilter's Dream Poly DeLuxe) than I would use if I were quilting rather than preparing for trapunto. I do have an 8" hoop under the quilt.

Saturday 21 July 2007

Whoo Hoo!

I realized the other day, I didn't have my ribbon from the National Quilt Championship. I rang and it arrived in today's post. (The quilt is going on to other shows)
I know there is a good case against competition.
But I am one happy bunny having got my ribbon (even more than the salvers). Sad aren't I. I am enough of a child to really value these.
I have a nice collection now but am not sure how to store/display them. I might hang them in the loo (grin).

Art in Action -Wood

Sixixis make fabulous things bending wood in a way you think would be impossible. I found their website confusing to say the least on the eye and the brain. Do go with it though as there are treasures to be found.

This is a much smaller piece.

This piece at first glance seems a nice coffee table but take a look at those impossible legs. Hugo Egleston makes fine furniture with the emphasis on excellent work and design.

Art in Action- A textile related potter

I thought Gwen Bainbridge's pots would appeal to those of us into textiles. In the process of making the pots she impresses them with pieces of old lace. Some are coloured

Some are not. BTW, the little cakes are ceramic too.

Friday 20 July 2007

Art in Action- The Sublime and the Funky

This pot is by Tim Gee. He said these particular pots were inspired by mountains rising out of the mist. For me they are like beautiful cloud formations. The calm quiet me loves this. It's simplicity belies it's sophistication. Tim uses a type of shellac as a resist. Read about how in the technical area on his website.
Zen and the art of porcelain....

And opposite where Tim was working were these! Funk soul colour. The child in me loves these.

I want one for my kitchen. Richard Godfrey is the creator of these fabulous pots.
I can imagine Melody Johnson having shelves full of these.

Bigger test sample

I decided yesterday that it would be a good idea to have a 1/4 sized mock up of the centre portion of the quilt.
If you thought weather did not affect quilting, wrong! I need light to do this and even with the main lights on in the bedroom there just isn't enough today. England and Wales is on a severe weather warning. We are expecting 2 months worth of rain today., just in case we hadn't had enough flooding recently. The drawing table in my bedroom is near the wall with the north east facing windows which should be getting morning sun streaming through right now, instead it's very gloomy. I keep trying but really I should give up as the light just isn't enough to trace through from my master pattern.
Art in Action yesterday was fabulous. Thank heavens we went yesterday before this deluge. We had glorious sunshine. As my DD said, this is a very English event. Not just in terms of the artists and craftsmen but also little touches like Pims on the lawns and cream teas. Even the loos were civilized with banks of portacabins, six of eight per cabin, good soaps and handtowels and even a lady providing cups of iced water in a separate area.
Did I mention they had wine tasting as well? Though frankly it was too hot and we were driving but a very nice idea.
And the music provided by diverse talents from such as the Royal College of Music to Japanese dance. In another area I heard music from the Indian sub continent.
I have loads of photos (I hope, I haven't looked at the camera yet) and will load them here over the next few days. (and yes, I did get permission from all the artists first).

Wednesday 18 July 2007

Making test sample

I couldn't leave it alone I had to see what it would look like with various backgrounds and with the blue backing. I used YLI Soft Touch in the needle and white Bottom Line in the bobbin.
The feather and the fist two rounds of echo quilting is white and the rest of the YLI was cream.
I quite like this colour, pity the fabric is white. When I took photos yesterday morning of it pinned up, it came up white, today the camera doesn't want to play nicely.

As I suspected the white stitching looks great but the stitching itself doesn't. I do want theis quilt to be as near to perfect as I can get it, so I think it will have to have a cream or white backing.
It does however encourage me to make a quilt with white stitching on blue on the front....
So many quilts so little time....

Voldemort, child of Voldemort and I are off to Art in Action today unless the weather is totally dire.

Pinned for Trapunto

I got it pinned this morning, thankfully it took less time than I expected. Note how the pins have been left open. I cannot remember whose idea this was but I am eternally grateful. Whether you pin on a table or the floor, just get the pins in place. Then sit comfortably on your sofa with your favourite TV program and close your pins. This cuts your kneeling time or bending over time by more than half and it's kinder on your fingers as you are closing the pins at a far more easy angle.

You will see that the centre lines of the feather are not the most elegant. This happens when you trace through rather than drawing directly onto fabric. No problem, these lines are a guide not written in stone. When I come to stitch, I will follow the natural line not the marking.

Have you noticed, I'm not showing you all the quilt at once? This is so you'll stay with me on this journey. My poor friend Marion has had to listen to me going on and on when I do my large quilts. Sometimes it's just because I get bored with doing loads of background, sometimes it's just because it takes so long. This time it's your turn (grin).
The quilt fabric is 80" wide and the quilt is probably about 3-4" inside this so it's not the biggest quilt I've made but it's not tiny either.
If I can get them I buy the kingsize bats. This is because I want those left over big bits to practice on. They are also handy for smaller quilts. I put the leftovers straight back into their original packaging so I don't loose track of what they are. In this case the trapunto batting is Quilter's Dream Poly in the the De Luxe weight. This batting is unlike any other poly bats as it is made with microfibres. It feels like a lightweight felt with better drape. And it sticks to the cotton of the quilt top and the backing just like cotton if not more so.
I will use Hobbs wool batting for the quilt itself. One reason is I've found it dries so much more quickly than other bats and the other is the colour. It's cream not brilliant white. I'm hoping there will be a subtle difference in colour between the trapunto areas and the background. It should be subtle enough than you are unaware of it, but enough to draw the eye to the trapunto areas (I did say I get quite anal about some of my quilts, didn't I?)
I'm also still considering what to use as backing. I have a lovely royal blue and the white stitching could look brilliant on this. One thing is holding me back, when you do really fine quilting with really fine threads the lines of stitching on the back are not always placed exactly where they are on the front. I will stitch either side of the lines in the 'lobes' of the feathers like Diane Gaudynski recommends. This not only looks better than going over the previous line of stitching, it is also far quicker. But I noticed that when you have rows of stitching 1/16" or less apart, the parallel lines are not as parallel on the back. I have to decide whether this matters or not.
Another consideration is this backing has been prewashed as I needed to see if the colour ran. It didn't but it had to be done. I like my backings when I'm doing fine quilting to not be prewashed. It's nice if they can shrink a little when the quilt is washed and then allow a little more of the quilting to stand out on the front. This idea is from Barbara Barber. I have a roll of some truly lovely unbleached muslin but this would require a seam. I could use the same sateen on the back as it on the front, but then there would be no 2nd side. I have some cream lightly marbled fabric backs..... and some patterned ones which are totally forgiving on the back, but that would be cheating (grin) and anyway this quilt is supposed to be an heirloom so it should be worthy on both sides.
Decisions, decisions......

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Watching paint dry

You might find the next few weeks as boring as watching paint dry or you might regard it as watching a great (I hope) quilt come into being.
The lily was just to get your attention. I've waited three years for this to come into bloom, so even with it's specks of whatever on it, I'm delighted.
Sinclair insisted on joining me this morning and when I asked him to move he just turned his back on me.
Though this does show his beautiful spots.
Last night I started making the grid and three quarters of the way round it was fine but as I feared
by the time I hit the last quarter this morning there was a bit of creative measuring required. A mixture of dividing the numbers a bit further and judging by eye.
I have spent a very long time on the design of this quilt. I studied long and hard looking at many old north country quilts for their feathers. There were some I love and some I didn't. I taught myself to draw feathers (see my very first post in my old blog). I filled sketchbooks with feathers. Long skinny ones, short and fat, curly whirly.
Then I worked on the format of the design. I knew I could do something fancier with the format than Elizabeth Sanderson ( a north country quilt stamper) could do with the tools available to her. I used a beam compass which works with a radius up to 15" and another which you slide onto a yard stick but because I didn't want a pencil line I had to tie my pen on one end and yet another ordinary compass. I bisected angles. I did things I haven't done since school.
A few years ago I found some lovely wide paper in an art shop in Brighton. It's about 50-60" wide which is great, it's very good quality paper which isn't so great as it seems determined to roll itself back into a roll. I taped it down on the table and started to design. The most used tools were, pencil, my eraser, my scanner and the photocopy shop. I kept designing feathers and auditioning them. I kept drawing sweeping lines and rotating them to give different shapes to insert feathers.
Marking the quilt has been a journey in itself. The fabric is cotton sateen. I pre-shrunk it and starched it within an inch of it's life. The more the fabric is handled the more stretchy it gets. This doesn't help.
Anyway it's all marked up now. Hopefully tomorrow it shall be pinned for sewing the trapunto areas. Thursday we're out, Friday for the stitching with the water soluble thread and the weekend cutting the excess batting away.
I hope.
Watch this space.

Monday 16 July 2007

Insomnia rules and grid rules

I suffer badly from insomnia and have done for several years now. I don't take pills except for a 10 day course two or three times a year to help me establish a sleeping pattern. Some times this works for a month or two gradually getting worse, sometimes it starts immediately after the course. The last couple of weeks have been exceptionally bad particularly when the hot flushes are factored in .

Enough of my moan now onto ruling out a diamond grid.

I have a square with about 66" sides with a circle with a diameter of 60" right in the middle. I marked off 1½" along one side and then marked lines going in two directions at 60º This has worked quilt nicely for the first half. But obviously I shall be working off just three a inch wide grid at the sides of the circle to do the 2nd side.
My longest ruler is 39". It works out quilt nicely that the lines are 1¼" apart. As you can imagine I only need to be 1º or a 1/100th of an inch out for this to multiply out of control where the grid meets on the opposite side.
Keep you fingers crossed.......

Sunday 15 July 2007

Just gardening today

Last spring we treated ourselves to this Antarctica Tree Fern from Tasmania. The bed was just 4 left over railway sleepers (ties for you in the US) filled with topsoil under the trees. It delights me in the spring when the fronds uncurl. This bed has been more sucessful than I dreamed.

This is 2 years ago when this bed was newly planted. It's about 8' wide by 3' deep

This is how it looks two years later, though with all the wet, the snails and slugs have had a wild time. Normally I manage to stay on top of them.

Different takes on bindweed (convolvulous). Morning Glory on the left is wonderful (though I've had trouble in the last few years getting the pure blue seed). The white bind weed is the bane of my gardening life. I once met a Texan who thought it wonderful how 'Moon Flowers' grew with wild abandon here. She had tried in vain to grow them in the Texan heat, even putting ice on the pots in the early mornings to keep them damp and cool. Whereas I have fond memories of the blue going rampant in Greece, Portugal and Mauritius (though I don't remember them in Brisbane , maybe it was too wet/dry?)

We have a little stream running down beside our house. I managed to take this today. The fish are quite small, about 8" long. I'd been worried after all the rain that they wouldn't find their way back. Although this little stream is normally only about 6" deep when there is lots of heavy rain it gets very fast flowing and 8' deep. I imagine they have lost his year's fry.

Saturday 14 July 2007

Better photo

This is a little bit better. The colour is better at least. I think there is another problem with the stitching confusing the camera, you know yous sometimes see the same effect on newsreaders suits or their ties.
Vicki W kindly left a comment about using grey. I found a silk duster jacket I have which is shades of greys plus black and white. I think this colour has come through more.
I've been hunting the manual but you know what they're like, they expect you to be totally aux fais with your old SLR before you can even start. (and I didn't buy the SLR version)
Enough! tomorrow is another day

Stage 3 feather play

Now here are the two firework versions side by side. Which do you prefer? Of course neither is the perfect style, Patsy Thompson's organic form one is a bit too formal and the formal one a little too organic but they should give an impression of both version.
I've had horrendous problems with this colour combo and my camera. The red is a proper cerise and the blue a bright royal blue. This was the best photo I got and that involved going outside and taking the photo on grass and then cropping the picture to remove the grass. I hoped the bright green would help the camera deal with this fully saturated colour. It has, but only a tiny bit.
If anyone knows how to overcome this, please please email me.