Wednesday 31 December 2014

Indulge me whilst I play.

We bought our daughter a camera for Christmas. She was very specific on what her dream camera was, but as it seemed hugely expensive for such a small thing we hesitated. And then we bought it. When it arrived I charged it up (as there is nothing worse than getting something wonderful on Christmas morning and having to wait for it to charge). And I had a tiny little play with it. I shouldn't have been jealous but I coveted her camera.  And then I realised there was another model even more hugely expensive with a view finder. I dreamed, but dismissed it.
 The moon tonight, no editing (I should have used a tripod or at least leaned against something)

And no one was more surprised than I when I found my husband had bought me the very camera. With my fibromyalgia I find carrying my camera even in my bag is getting more painful, so I have given up taking it places, even quilt shows. I have resorted to using my phone outside the house.

The old and the new, to show the size.

Yesterday we went to Symonds Yat on the Wye. These photos have not been edited. They were taken in the most harsh conditions for a camera. Bright bright sun low in the sky and the opposite bank in deep deep shade. Normally this causes either everything in the light gets bleached out or everything in the dark gets blacked out. Not with this baby, I am so happy with it!

That isn't snow over the river, just very thick frost. Those houses must be in the shade all day in winter.

And if you are tempted my new camera is the Sony RX100 M3 and my daughter has the Mark2.

This photo of the village was taken with hers on Boxing Day morning.
 Did I mention it has a wide angle lens so I will be able to take full shots of quilts with them really close? I am very lucky.

Have a very happy 2015 every one of you!

Monday 29 December 2014

Tutorial on Dog Tooth Border Applique.

One of my friends in an online group has completed her Baltimore Album Quilt, doing all the blocks by hand with incredible skill, it is a real beauty. Shehas blogged her progress on her blog here.

However having put all this work in, the border that came with the pattern will leave her with a quilt too big for her bed.  The original design had a border 12 or 15".

There is an 1850s quilt on this blog post with a double dog tooth border. This seems a good solution (and a lovely running feather quilted up between them would look fabulous).  Scroll down until you see the Old Otterbein Quilt.

There are a few ways of stitching a dogtooth border. Paper foundation piecing is the most obvious but this quilt is entirely appliqued by hand, this would be the wrong solution for this particular quilt. So here is my preferred way of appliqueing it.

Start by drawing it out on paper and cut a dog tooth border. This is to see that the scale is right.

Then see how you will handle the corners. In this case I think a half square red triangle on the diagonal will do nicely.

Of course on the inner border the teeth will point the other way.

For Linda's quilt the teeth are one inch high and one inch wide at the base.

So I cut a strip one and a half inches wide and pressed the top over one quarter of an inch.

I stitched it down half way between the edge and the seam line. (I would cut the background fabric with at least 1/2" preferably a whole inch all round to trim down later as it is bound to fray on such a long straight edge.) This will hold the applique in place all along the border and stop you stretching or shrinking it (most people do one or the other).

Mark your dog tooth applique every half inch along the top and every inch along the outer edge. Use whatever marking method your prefer. If you end up with a half inch too little, then add 1/16" to the last every other 8 marks, if it is half an inch too big then reduce it by the same. Just adjust it by however many 1/16ths of an inch you need. It will NOT show.

Imagine a line on the diagonal between the mark on the inner edge of the tooth and the outer edge. Then cut about 3/16ths of an inch outside that line.

Fold it under and stitch right to the point. Make the last stitch catch the very end of it. I have used thick black thread and big stitches so you can see what I am doing.

Then move along to the next mark along the top and cut down to within two or three threads of the seam line. Be brave or do a little sample piece to get the hang of it.

Applique down this side of the tooth, making 3 or 4 deeper stitches in the extreme point of the V to strengthen it.

Then applique up to the top again and so on until it is finished.

This way of doing it ensures the tips of the teeth are all the same height (and a difference in height shows up far more than a difference in width).

If you are appliqueing by machine you can cut each tooth and glue it down, then stitch the row in one go. Just make sure you have a stitch at the top and reduce you stitch length and increase you width of stitch at the bottom between each tooth.

Sunday 7 December 2014

I didn't get away with it completely

I decided what to do with those corners.
I suppose in my heart of hearts I always knew it was going to be feathers...
I did these slightly differently as the placing was not quite as crucial.
*then not than... sigh
I thought the quilt top had survived the long hot wash without mishap but there are a few signs of damage
 I slid the tips of the scissors so you can see where the applique thread has failed.
 This one will take a little more fixing. I imagine I have to unpick the stem and the red petal it goes underneath and then move the stem over to the left. I fixed four problems last night but we were in our sitting room and I shall need particularly good lighting to sort this out. Or replace the whole leaf but that involves the red flower to the left as well. I am feeling murdrous thoughts to the printer of that red fabric which ran. It has been so long since I finished a large piece of work, I just want to get on with it.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

I should explain my absence.

I had got back into the swing of regularly blogging, then things went dreadfully wrong with the appliqué quilt.
I marked the feathers between the pots and then realised I hadn't removed the papers from the outer border. Removing the papers involves soaking the piece. I soaked it, removed the papers, dried it. I then decided I should wash it to remove all the glue..... Why I decided to do this, I don't really know. Normally I leave all the washing until the quilt is finished. At this point I discovered that red in the outer border had run. Why this red ran, I cannot fathom. It had been prewashed without running, it had been soaked to remove the papers without running..... I suppose if it was going to do it at any time, it was better than when the quilt was finished.
It was much worse in real life. And all the way round.
Ferret came to the rescue saying she used Dylon SOS Colour Run. To use this stuff it suggests you wash at 60C  (140F). I feel an appliqué quilt top is quite fragile until it is quilted to support the stitching but really I had no choice. I folded it into four and stitched all round inside the borders. I put it in the machine for a 2 hour cycle. I waited with much gnashing of teeth. It seemed a very long 2 hours. But it is FINE!

So to get back to marking the quilt. First trace your master copy onto freezer paper and iron it to the back of the work.

 Then flip it over
My lightbox is an Ikea glass table top with a lamp on the floor below. It helps if I turn off the lights in the room.

Sorry it hasn't been ironed and beautifully flat. I have yet to decide what I shall put above the dark red appliqué flowers but I like the flower shapes between them. I will probably trapunto them and the appliqués. And I need to come up with an idea for the centre.

I have continued the motif of the flowers out into the border.

I have found I cannot trace for more than 2 or 3 hours a day as my neck starts to get very painful. I hope it doesn't hurt this much once I start quilting.

We have had a warm September and October but this doesn't explain this clematis in flower at the beginning of December.

Thursday 27 November 2014

You may soon not be able to buy British patterns.

Within the EU there is a sales TAX which is in the UK called VAT. In the UK it applies to most things with the exception of books, food, medicines and children's clothing. It is a cumbersome tax and all businesses with a turnover of over £81,000 (turnover, not profit) have to charge it and deal with the paperwork involved.

There is a move afoot for anyone selling digital products to any member state that they will have to register and charge VAT to the customer even if the tax involved is only £1. Effectively this means if I put out a pattern and just one person in an EU country (not the UK) bought one of my patterns I would have to register for VAT. This would mean filling in the forms every three months, (and possibly hiring an accountant to do it). And I would have to do it for each country involved. There would be a scheme where a government agency would deal with it but I would then have to register myself as a VAT trader (not required for any other business with less than an £81,000 turnover).  If you sell a pattern online you have no way to stop people in EU countries purchasing.

So what would you do? You just wouldn't publish any patterns or designs in digital format, it would not be worth the hassle for the very small profit involved.

Please sign this petition. It will hopefully make the government listen to how silly this is for micro businesses.

You can read more about it here.

And if you have been thinking about buying a pattern, book etc in digital format from a British writer or designer, it might just be a good idea to do it now.

Thank you!


Tuesday 11 November 2014

I got all those hexagons appliqued.

I would post a photo but honestly it looks just the same as it did in my last post but finished.
Now I have to work on the next round.
I spent time cutting hundreds of 1 1/2" squares. I need to punch some more 1/2" heagons but I have enough to be going on with.
 I have run out of compartments in the nail polish box I bought to store the hexagons, so I bought 3 of these from a supermarket in the tool department. I lightly use the glue stick on the hexagon to hold it in place for basting. The reds in the above box are similar but not quite the same.

I know I am doing a scrappy look to this quilt top but I like to keep each fabric separate so I can spread the colours evenly (or put a bit of zing in where I want it, not just by accident).

Do you remember the disaster of the flood in my studio? Find the sad story here. Well the same thing has happened again. Same reason. I am not happy. The bath was cleaned yesterday, not from being used but just because it gets dusty from not being used. (we all shower). And the tap was not quite turned off. This time the water avoided the freezer paper but went into the drawers. This is when I found one of the red fabrics runs, and runs badly..... I wish I had taken a photo before I put it in the machine. Then only some of the daisies had turned pink. I put the white hexagon there as a contrast to show what colour they were. The peachy red thing on it is a colour catcher. Poor little things, those colour catchers didn't stand a chance against this fabric.

So I guess I shall be clearing up for the next couple of days.... sigh.  Luckily it only ran into two smallish other bits of fabric which had been folded four times .


Tuesday 4 November 2014

Only 12 left to go.

In truth, I haven't posted because the progress doesn't look so great. I have twelve left of these hexagons to appliqué.
 In truth it has been amazingly boring appliquéing these down. The only variation being the change in thread colour with each little flower.
 And turning it back to cut out the little holes to remove the papers.
 I think this is easier to do one at a time. Even though each paper was held in place by a little bit of glue stick, they pop out quite easily.

Whilst clearing out my studio I came across this little quilt, made when I had less skill and much more time on my hands. What on earth was I thinking? All in Liberty Tana Lawn.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

The quilting design process

Someone asked how I do it. So at the risk of asking you to watch paint dry, here is my process.
 I chose the area I wanted to work on, and traced it making sure to reverse the image and leave enough space outside the design area.
 I then went over the tracing with a Sharpie pen.
 Sometimes you get lucky and the very first thing you draw works. I liked this feather.
 But I still had that huge area above it and not enough room for a full flourish.
 This 2nd attempt was not any better.
 So I wondered about using the shape of the flowers as a motif. Nah, don't like that.
This feather in the opposite direction has made me happy. I still haven't decided what I shall do in that square where the bottoms of the flower vases/pots meet. My eraser is my friend. But tomorrow is another day.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Well duh!

It seemed such a good idea at the time....
And really it isn't such a bad idea, just not the way I did it.
I used a glue stick to hold down the hexagons whilst I appliqued them in place.
But that obviously was not going to hold them down for long enough as it takes an evening just to sew two down. Pinning was not an option as it distorted the hexagons because of the thickness of the papers/card. Light bulb moment. I shall stitch them down with water soluble thread.
Have you thought further ahead than I did yet?
If you remember I use the Fiskar's punch for my hexagons. I punched the 1/2" hexagons from all sorts of things, often packaging. The papers/card are still in place. So when I come to soak off the basting water soluble thread, colours in the papers might run..... Soooooo I shall have to unpick each and every stitch. This would not be a problem now I am using heavy weight white paper. Then I could dissolve the thread and iron it dry.... In my next life I shall be perfect.

I find lots of uses for water soluble thread. Faux trapunto being my most often used one. Storage for these threads has to be thought about. I keep mine in a sealed food storage canister. And whenever anything arrives in the house with one of those little sachets to keep things dry, I pop it into the canister with the thread. I also keep the bobbins with soluble thread in there as well. Believe me, you do not want your bobbins of white thread and soluble thread muddled up...... Superior Threads do a stronger one for longarm quilters and that is my preferred one though I still have quite a lot of the finer ones left to use up.

On Friday I went to the Autumn Quilt Show at the Malvern Showground. I went last year on the Friday, but I swear there were twice as many people in the building this year. So much so, I have vowed never to go on a Friday again. I did wonder how so many people were in the building and it still was within Health and Safety regulations.

There was a Baltimore Quilt by Susan Lax.
Lots of quilts took my eye, but only those by Susan Lax  were of real admiration. Including this Baltimore. I took photos of quite a few of the blocks but only this one wasn't blurred. (note to self, check photos when you have only used your phone to take them) She had both machine and hand work on display and all were lovely. I was particularly taken by a quilt she had done of chickens but the photo is duff.

I realised the difference between the simpler Baltimore Quilts and the more complex ones. If I ever make one, it will be worth going the full distance and do the more complex blocks. I have nine blocks tucked away from years ago and they are just not up to scratch. I did them 15 or 20 years ago and at the time was not unpleased. Now I know they weren't worth the effort, except as part of the learning curve.
Perhaps one day they will turn up on Ebay or it's future equivilent as someone's treasure, though I doubt it.... lols