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

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Back doing the hexagons.

I really thought I had enough of the hexagon flowers. And in fact I do, but not enough of the pale green eau de nil. I found a strip to make just enough more of them.
I have a beam compass but the chaos of the studio meant I could not find the beam. Two choices, either keep hunting and lose more time or just measure it out over and over again until I could make a big circle and join up the dots. I opted for the latter. The circle has an 18" radius so will measure about 38" because I am not lining up the hexagons inside the circle.
This is as far as I got before I realised the lack of eau de nil.
And yet more vintage chintzes.
Yet again Laura Ashley reproductions printed and glazed in Holland in the 1980s.

Meanwhile I  still hate Windows 8.1 and will probably download the Classic Shell but I want to get my photos and files off my old hard drive first.

And something more serious. Ebola. My daughter's best friend Holly is out in Sierra Leone working for Oxfam. She is not nursing or being a doctor but nonetheless she is out there working. She has learnt how they now greet people, not by a handshake, but the Ebola greeting of putting your hand on your chest.  She met Mary, a community health worker who said ''One of my friends family, 10 of them are all dead in one house. If you are on Twitter you can follow Holly here. If you are not, then please donate to Oxfam in the UK, Oxfam in the USA, or Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). 
It is no exaggeration to say Holly and everyone working in the Ebola stricken regions have put their lives on the line to help. The least we can do is give some cash.  
 You can hear Holly here on the BBC this afternoon.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FAQDvpyln8&feature=youtu.be

Sunday, 19 October 2014

I survived, just.

I still cannot work out a way to show you the complete quilt top, but I can show you this quarter. It is all stitched down. Now it is ready for marking for quilting. And designing the quilting. I have lots of space to do some fancy stuff but haven't given much thought what that stuff shall be.....
 The colours are not right but so far I haven't managed to download a version of Picassa, my favourite freebie photo editing program which works with the dreaded Windows 8.1 . I have no idea who thought having a tablet operating system on a desktop was a good idea or why, but it isn't. It never will be. I can just about understand it for people who go between one sort of machine and another, but even then you should be able to deactivate the part of Windows which just doesn't apply.
George was 'helping' whilst I appliqued. You might think this is quite cute but twisting and turning a piece this large isn't easy and with his help, the task is not easier. Add the fact he often has muddy paws and he is not very welcome up here. This photo was on my phone. The colours are not this bright but somewhere between the two photos.

I am taking a break off Facebook for a couple of weeks. I can feel withdrawal symptoms coming on. It is an odd thing making friends with people all over the planet. You end up caring very deeply about them when things go wrong and sharing their joys when good things happen.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Good news, very good news and not so good news

 Firstly I have most of the border twists sewn on. I just have to draft those corners. Yay me! I cannot fit it all in the photo, the top now measures 95" X 95" and I have nowhere with this amount of free space. I think when it is done, I can dismantle the table, move the chairs elsewhere, set up my quilt stand and use the height of the vaulted ceiling in the dining area to get a shot. I think. I will not know until I try and as it will be such a big thing to organise, it won't happen until it is finished, quilted and bound.

Remember the lovely book I recomended in my last post? I thought the fabric looked familiar. I went through my stash and found it. Mine is not 200 years old like the one on the cover, just 29 years old. In 1985 we lost Laura Ashley in a tragic event. In this same year she developed this fabric. I wonder if she roamed the floors of the Victoria and Albert museum? Her version lacks a few of the tiny details, but the difference is negligible.
And the dust jacket opened out on the fabric.
I know I have shown other chintz of vintage Laura Ashley fabrics before. My stash of them is slowly growing.
This Chinoiserie one I picked up just this week.

And the bad news? My hard drive died on Sunday. I bought a whole new PC yesterday and it was delivered today. It is plugged in and all the bits and bobs, screen, keyboard, mouse, speakers etc are all plugged into it. I have not turned it on yet, tomorrow will be early enough to come to terms with the dreaded Windows 8.

This time I decided to go the route most people take and bought it from a retail shop (John Lewis). Normally we buy our kit from company suppliers but they really don't give a tuppence ha'penny when things go wrong. And like cobbler's children who don't get new shoes, the amount of PC support I get at home is lamentable. It is a long drive to find a shop selling PC's and John Lewis department store give free next day delivery to their sister company, Waitrose Supermarkets and we have one of those just 3 or 4 miles down the hill.
I couldn't resist picking up these lovely flowers.
I always feel it is a delightful extravagance to buy flowers for the kitchen (and I have a couple of large vases of lillies on the dining table when it doesn't have a quilt top draped over it) but when we spend more time in here than any other room, it makes sense.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Today was the day I saw flying pigs.

Today we went to Abergavenny (I wonder if the people who live in Abergavenny ever get THAT song out of there head) to get me a new phone contract and/or a new phone.
 From the carpark you walk through this perfect courtyard between the Tithe Barn and the church at St Mary's Priory
It turned out to be quite a textile trip. This is called the Abergavenny Tapestry (though like other things labelled thus, it is not a tapestry but an embroidery). It is twenty four foot long and six foot two high. Most of the borders are done in small half cross stitch but the shields and some of the detail are petite point. It is the work of sixty local women. The design, conception and execution is wonderful and should be more widely known. It is to be found upstairs in the Tithe Barn.

 Then we cut through the Market to get to the Carphone Warehouse. Before we got in, I saw a flying pig through a high window. My husband thought I was quite mad until we got inside and there were loads of them, larger than life, all made from fabrics and perfectly formed. They were amazing and delightful.

Apparently they were there when we went to the Food Festival but somehow amongst the crowds, the noise and the smells of the food, we missed them.

I came away from Abergavenny without a new phone or contract as we were advised the new Samsung will be in store in a couple of weeks. Then I can say goodbye to the dreadful Apple and leave the darkside behind me.

Abergavenny is not a large town, though it is quite busy. This is the view from the market above the rooftops.
And the weather was fine.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Books to go on your Wish List for Christmas

And I have finally sorted out the border.
It hasn't been stitched down and I am still prepping the pieces but I am on the home stretch.

My Bernina 710 got a present, a 97D foot.
This foot is a quarter inch on the right hand side at the front and gives the same one eighth inch inside the foot like the 37 and the 37D feet, the difference is the foot makes contact with those extra wide feed dogs. I have just noticed I haven't engaged the dual feed in this photo. It also has a little guide you can screw on at the front to feed in your fabric. I am not using that here because I shall trim the bottom fabric later. I really really like this foot but I really really don't like the price. It was £45 here in the UK. When you can buy a whole sewing machine for £49 in John Lewis, it really cannot be justified. OK the sewing machine is not built to  Bernina standards but the difference is extreme to say the least.

Two glorious but expensive books to drool over. They are both big and heavy. I wish they would print books like this in paperback. I don't want to display books on a coffee table nor do I wish to have to sit at a table to read them, but nonetheless they are highly desirable.

I opened at  random pages. This book has no patterns but it has the most glorious quilts to drool over and get inspiration from.

The other book is all about prints, wonderful prints. 

 I so wish these prints were reproduced in the same detail and colours.

Both of these books are treasures.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A mishmash. Old blocks put together in the 1980's?

 I didn't have high expectations of this when I ordered it, but I didn't pay much so it matters not.
 I am fairly confident the stars surrounding the hexagons are from the 1940s and earlier. The hexagons measure 1 1/2" on the edge.
 It has been pieced over papers but the papers no longer are present.
 My guess is someone bought or inherited the stars and finished it in the 1980s. The plain terracotta is very much an 80s colour. And the terracotta stripe diamonds with the flowers look like an 80s Laura Ashley print to me.
 The other fabrics all are late 40's, 30's and 20's to my eye, but I am no expert.

There is no quilting, it is backed with loosely woven cotton. It has a poly-cotton beige valance sewn on by machine. (very 80s)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

What I saw and what you saw.

Or a picture can say a thousand words, but sometimes they are the wrong words.... lols