Friday 29 January 2010

The story of the White Wholecloth (and I have a plan)

The little white Xs mark round where the stain is.

Let me start by saying if I could own any one quilt in the world it would be Margaret Docherty's Little Brown Bird.

Stage 1,
Now onto the sorry saga of my white wholecloth. I spent about six months tossing ideas around in my head for the layout of the feathers.

Stage 2,
Translated my ideas into a quarter sized master paper pattern

Stage 3, Marked up the fabric, an 80" wide fabulous fine cotton sateen from Heide Stoll Webber. The downside of this fabric is it has a lot of give in it.

Stage 4, Washed out first attempt and starched it within an inch of it's life to stop the stretching so it would meet when I got to marking the fourth quarter.

Stage 5, Marked the grid in between the central circle and the outer border. I used a metal yardstick. It wasn't long enough to go over to bout sides of the central circle but as I was using the width of it as the guide for the diamond grid, no problem.

Stage 6, Pinned Quilters Dream polyester de luxe weight to the quilt top.

Stage 7, Stitched round all the motifs, the narrow borders separating each area and the grid with water soluble thread.

Stage 8, Anyone who has cut away the batting for machine trapunto will know how hard it is on the fingers. I cut round the feathers, the border and then went on to cutting out alternate diamonds on the grid. Those who have followed this quilt since the beginning will know I made a nearly quarter sized sample up first to judge the effect of this. I saved the grid until last as it's straight edges are marginally less hard on the hands.
Then I found the alternate grid diamond met back the beginning of the circle not remaining alternate. Grrr I put the work away for a couple of months.

Stage 9, Ferret came over for the day and we sat out in warm weather very gently damping down the water soluble thread on the grid. I gently removed all the diamonds.

Stage 10, Another friend came over and I remarked one corner. We thought it was right.

Stage 11, A lesser woman than I would have thrown it in the bin when I found it still didn't meet up correctly!! On removing the water soluble thread for a second time I found that as it hadn't been removed just disolved it was drying into hard lumps which could not be stitched through.

Stage 12, The whole thing needs to be soaked and the trapunto feather motifs removed. I then gently washed it hoping the quilting marks would still be visible enough to use. They weren't.

Stage 13, I grab more sateen from my stash and measure out a length against the selvedge of the first quilt top. I cut the length. This is when I discovered the rest of my sateen stash is only 60" wide. Grrr

Stage 14, Gave the original sateen a good machine wash, starch it again within an inch of it's life and start the marking all over again. This time I get the grid right!! I use a long piece of cable trunking as my straight edge. And use the width of it for the size of the diamonds.

Stage 15, I cannot face cutting away all those motifs over again so have a plan to use the original ones soaked off the first top. I will use a glue stick to hold them in place and flip it over when they, the motifs and the diamonds are in place. This seems to be going well until I cover all the areas on the table and slide it over to stick on more. The very act of sliding it over the edge of the table means half of it falls off. Grr.

Stage 16, Talk to Ferret , she suggests trying 505 spray. This is better than the glue stick but still not good enough. I growl and put it away again.

Stage 17, We're now into autumn 2009 and my husband Colin has nearly lost his life and worry becomes my middle name. I start a couple of other projects but can't get going. I decide to just quilt it with no trapunto. Ferret says longarmers get away with using two layers of batting to get a similar effect. So I re pin it with lightweight Quilters Dream polyester on the bottom and Hobbs wool on top.

Stage 18, I start to quilt it and am very pleased I didn't use a heavier weight of the Quilters Dream. It would not have fitted under the throat if I had.

Stage 19, I quilt it using YLI Silk 100# thread. The motifs are done with white thread and the background with cream. In the bobbin I have used Superior Masterpiece for no other reason than I have loads of it in a colour half way between the white and the cream.

Stage 20, Whilst I working my way out from the middle of the quilt, doing different backgrounds in each area, I decide the grid is too large and out of proportion the rest of the design!!!! So quilt it in a larger scale swirly background design.

Stage 21, I finish quilting the final border and do a spiral design round the outside to stabilize the edges.

Stage 22, I pop it in the bath and soak it in some very gentle wash I have designed to wash cashmere, then I run it through the washing machine on a quick rinse and spin.

Stage 23, Meanwhile I've vacuumed the carpet in the bedroom several times to prepare it for the quilt. I bring the quilt up, lay it flat and go round it several times stretching it out so the diagonals are even. It looks great. I don't even look at it very closely until the next morning. In the morning light it looks wonderful. I turn on the lights and to my horror I can see marks. At this point they look sort of greasy. If I had marks like this on a T-shirt I wouldn't have thrown it out but I would only have worn it for gardening or decorating.

Stage 24, I leave it for 24 hours and contemplate its' fate. Strangely I'm not screaming, though I do realise I should be in floods of tears. On the basis that it cannot be shown in this state, I risk rubbing in some enzyme/biological stain remover. I leave it to soak in for 1/2 hour then wash it in the machine on a 30°C wool wash. I bring it upstairs, blcok it with the pins, turn on the lights. Yay! It's looking good. However once it's dry and the artificial lights are on the marks are back. Only now they sort of look like a faded version of the marks left by shoes on an indoor sports hall, or some of them do anyway.

Stage 25, As stage 24 but with an Oxygel stain remover.

Stage 26, As stage 24 but with an Oxygel carpet stain remover (i have heard of others using this in extreme circumstances with success, but not for me.

Stage 27, Well what have I got to loose? Nothing, works. I'm tempted just to bind it and let Fliss have it at Uni even if the boys in her house eat food whilst playing on the games machine in her room. So just before I give up totally, I try neat bleach. Do NOT dear reader do what I do. I painted it on lightly with a paint brush and took it straight downstairs and into the washing machine. The marks are still there, they still only look really bad in electric light (you can see them in daylight but only if you are up close and personal, like a judge would be at a show for example) But.... but what the bleach has done is dissolve the silk thread. This is fixable, it's only where I painted the bleach but it will be a pain in the backside to restitch and bury all those ends.

Stage 28, Remember at the beginning I said how much I love Little Brown Bird.I love it for it's workmanship, it's colours, it's design, it's just wonderful and I know it has a quality unobtainable by mere mortals such as me.
But this quilt did send me on a quest to find background fabric like Margaret Docherty used. It has the look of old fabric which has 'aged'. Whenever I see fabric with this quality I buy it by the bolt.
In the shower this morning I jad a Eureka moment. I shall 'age' the quilt, perhaps with tea, perhaps with coffee, perhaps both.!! I shall have to redo the stitching, burying of threads, blocking and binding before I do it. I might give my soul a rest for a week or two but it is such a relief to 'have a plan'.

(I can't proof read this post so if there are glaring mistakes, forgive me)

Tuesday 26 January 2010

I can't even begin to share the disaster which is the white wholecloth

I'll do it in a few days time.
Mean while poor little Rosie was spayed today. She's not happy either but perhaps the huge tom cat from down the road will stop trying to break in.

Saturday 23 January 2010

What shall I do?

When I can no longer block my quilts on the floor? I'm OK for a few years, I have this 80" space at the bottom of our bed and if I need larger than this a friend has a 2nd sitting room with about a 12' area I can borrow.
I had thought hanging a wet/damp quilt on my quilt photo stand would work. I thought that as the top of the quilt was supported evenly on the rail it would dry hanging straight.

As you can see, it's totally wavy, almost storm-like (grin). Another cunning plan will need to be hatched.....

Wednesday 20 January 2010


Well the quilting is anyway. All it needs now is some threads buried, washing the marking out, blocking, binding, a sleeve attached and a label made.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Farnham Maltings

My Conscience (Steph) came with me so I became a little restrained, not a lot but a little. These two were dirt cheap and will make good backings.
These I've nearly ordered a few times, there are four fabrics here and each has three colours running parallel to the selvedge. Yummy.

This red ombre and the green marble will go into my appliqué stash. (as will those above)

And these two were irresistible just love the colours, make me salivate. The fabric behind will make a good background for quite a few different things.

All in all a good day but it got far too crowded even for an event known for it's overcrowding. I'm not sure it's good for traders either when you can't get close enough to actually see anything.

Friday 15 January 2010

Crab Apples to the Rescue.

In December I think I showed you this fabulous crab apple. It truly looks as though it's decorated for Christmas. It holds it's fruit right up until spring when the blossom comes out.
Except this year these redwings which are not normally seen in gardens, came in a flock every day. I think because of the continual freezing, the fruit softened somewhat and the birds could use it.

Below the little tree, it looks very much as though a massacre has taken place. Perhaps it's the blood of the snow man who has shrunk to half his original size.

And this little chap is going for the last few fruit.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

More of the white stuff.

My poor tree fern is looking a little sad though as it gets even colder than this in New Zealand, I'm hoping with the spring we'll get new fronds.

Neighbours have built an igloo. It's bigger than it seems in the photo.
Even Toad Hall manages to look a little pretty in the snow.

I love the snow in the trees but even I will welcome the thaw when it comes. We got our first post of the year this morning. I wonder when/if our garbage gets collected........

Saturday 9 January 2010

Weird effect

I sat in the car thinking an icicle had dropped into the plant pot like a spear.

Closer examination revealed this.

Quite large for a solid piece of vertical ice.The water had been slowly dripping of the guttering and building it up.

More snow forecast tonight.

Thursday 7 January 2010


I know snow in North America and parts of Europe is very normal, but here in the south of England this sort of snow is a once in a generation event. The BBC said yesterday we had a foot of snow in Fleet.
The cats aren't heavy enough to fully break the surface of the snow and sink right down thankfully or they'd disappear.

It's very pretty. I don't know what the temperature went down to here but up the road in Oxfordshire it went down to -18°C which on one online converting site tells me it's 0°F or as cold as Moscow.

Fliss and a friend made a snowman on the first night.

Friday 1 January 2010

Happy 2010

I'm giving myself a little holiday treat and having a break from the white on white wholecloth. It's lovely to be back using colour again. This silk piece will end up as a little sachet for Fliss's new little laptop. (It will keep it nice and shiny white).