Tuesday 27 January 2015

Sore fingers.

Well I tried all the scissor suggestions and still the only ones which cut really nicely at the stork ones which are killing my thumb.
It is only Tuesday but already this week we have had a broken boiler (we will replace it in the summer), a minor fault with one of the cars and a few slates off the roof. I am counting that as the three things which come at the same time.
It doesn't look like much. I am nearly there. I have war wounds fighting this but the end is in sight.
If I were professional I would have hung this before photographing. I am not so here it is draped over one of the sofas in the kitchen.
And I still haven't decided what to do in the very centre.

I woke up this morning not sure whether the boiler (furnace) would be fixed. I has been, but I dressed in a full set of thermal underwear prepared for the worse case scenario. It got very hot under that quilt today!

Edit. Just to clarify. This is the back of the quilt with a layer of batting on the back. I have cut out round each motif and applique to create faux trapunto when I add a final layer of batting and I quilt it.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Tutorial Page.

If you follow me, you might want to add the Tutorial page I have added. I will be adding more of them as and when I post or find them in old posts. It seems if you are following the blog, page additions don't show up in your feed. You will have to add the page to your feed, Bloglovin or whatever you use.

You can find it above each post to the right or click here for the link.

If you know of any of my posts you think I should add to this page, just let me know.


Wednesday 21 January 2015

Quilting can be painful....

My little helper doesn't help much when I am marking...

I ummed and ahhed over whether to use two thicknesses of batting or to trapunto this. I went with the latter (someone give my brain a nudge). I started on a box of new safety pins. Why on earth do they arrive closed? I think I probably used a few hundred pinning this quilt. Pinning wasn't so hard, I pinned them in place and sat of the sofa watching TV whilst I closed them. Opening them was the problem, I ended up with a very sore left first finger and thumb. But this is not the reason quilting hurts. I stitched round every flower, every stem and every feather with freemotion quilting using water soluble thread.  I love the effect but had forgotten that if you are planning this, then it is a good idea not to do it on something with as many elements with so many shapes.....

Then I started cutting away the excess batting. This is taking ages and I cannot do it for more than a couple of hours or so without a break.

And this is why quilting can be painful right now. So far these are the only scissors which slide nicely between the batting and the quilt top. (you have to be very careful not to cut through the quilt top, very very careful)

I end up with a red sore bit on my thumb knuckle and the gouge you can see is the bit that hurts the most. It goes back into shape after an hour or so......

These are the ones I have tried. The top stork scissors are too small, the next are the ones which hurt, the silver ones are the new Sulivans with nice big finger holes but their points want to go through the quilt fabric as well as the batting. The green handled ones are the Karen K Buckley ones, I have been told if I sand off the tips of these with an emery board, they might be OK and the Fiskars are just too big except for alongside the straightish bits like the intertwined chain on the outer border.

As I am writing this post, the postman arrived with this selection. I have yet to try them so will let you know how I get on with them.

I went shopping in Monmouth yesterday, I was bitterly cold and the ducks were all hunkered down on the river bank. I cannot imagine they are very safe from foxes here. The river has quite a bit of water in it right now and I imagine that they normally reside on little islands.

I know may of you live in Australia and the USA and don't get to see many things this old, so here is a photo I took yesterday of the Monnow Bridge right by my local supermarket. It is 7 or 8 hundred years old. It is only open to pedestrians these days. You can find out more here.

I am counting the cutting out of the trapunto as hand work and therefore to do it in the evenings (quite honestly, it would hurt too much to work on cutting it all day). So I have decided to go back to my version of Esther Aliu's Heart's Desire. It has moved house with me without me adding anything to it in the last couple of years. I love this quilt, I love the design of it but I do admit to not getting the same satisfaction on working on the design of another. I am finding the same thing with the Di Ford Mystery Quilt, it is another lovely quilt, another lovely deisgn but it doesn't give me the same excitement as working on something I make from the design process onward. So it you hear me say I will start another of another designer's work, please remind me that however wonderful it may be, I will not feel the same engagement with it. I stumbled a little on my Heart's Desire when I appliqued a top and bottom border only to find I had not allowed for the sashings in my measurements and then we moved house. So onwards and upwards, I shall finish it, not sure how just yet but I will!

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Playing with fussy cutting.

I have finished marking the centre of the machine applique quilt... just the rest of it to go.

Meanwhile I have been making a start on the 36 stars needed for the Di Ford Mystery quilt. I bought some extra of the border stripe used in the first round so this seemed an opportunity to play. Not many done but there's no rush on this.

I love placing the kite shapes and just seeing how they turn out.

I placed these so you can get a good idea of how they were positioned.

I also played with this blue stripe.

This morning I woke to this view from my bedroom window. We don't get huge amounts of snow in the South of England (last year was the exception) so I get unreasonably excited. Probably because I grew up in the heat of Queensland in Australia.

And a slightly different view from our daughter's bedroom.

Friday 9 January 2015

Some little things make me very happy

And these little scissors are one of them.
 They are Sullivan's Heirloom embroidery scissors. When I get round to cut the trapunto (not 100% certain I am going to trapunto yet, I might do two layers of batting instead) those larger finger grips will save my hands. I  have a different pair with even larger finger holes coming over from the States. They are larger than the stork ones I used to use but still give a lot of control.

And now I have the Di Ford quilt ready to do the next round I can get back to marking this one. This is a half inch grid, I am umming and ahhing about taking that down to a quarter inch grid or not.....

Monday 5 January 2015

New Year, New Impetus.

Christmas was spent feeling ill. However I started on the steroids on Boxing Day and now am feeling human again, so all is good.

I have no idea how the Christmas break works in your part of the world but here in the UK many people cease work on the 23rd and go back on the first Monday after New Year. So today is the day things get back to normal. TV schedules will no longer be filled with old James Bond films and the News will not be little 5-10 minute segments at irregular times. I think a lot of people who are lonely over Christmas feel it even more because of this break in scheduling. I just find it mildly annoying.

I went into my studio to get going again on the quilting front on Friday but it had become a dumping ground over the holidays and it took a couple of days to get it into a place where work could take place. Thank heavens I had kept all the fabrics for the Di Ford Mystery quilt in one box. Even so I had added other chintz, and other repros to the box so it took a little digging to get the right fabrics out. (and there are a lot of them in this final round.) I don't have an urgent need to finish this quilt but unless I get the piecing done and the appliques prepped nothing happens in the evenings on this particular quilt when I find it relaxing to do some hand work.
There are twenty different fabrics in those setting triangles alone.
I punched out 40 X 1/2" hexagons for fussy cut centres to all those stars.  Over 200 diamonds for the paper piecing of the stars, the squares for the backgrounds of them.

Meanwhile my go to mindless handwork has been piecing the 1/2" hexagons.
I shall add a border to this and these little rosettes shall cover most of the seams. It is quite relaxing doing these. I have bought the large and extra large hexagon punches, which have finished sides of 3/4" and 1" respectively. If you ever wondered why many old English quilts and coverlets have complex centres with many small pieces and ever larger ones as you get to the borders, I am sure it is because the makers realised they would never finish if they stayed with the tiny pieces through the entire work.
I thought I deseved a little treat after getting so much done...... Years ago I made my own brandy snaps. There is a knack of rolling them whilst they just firm enough to roll and not so hard that they snap. I made them quite a few times and then I lost the knack. Luckily now they are easy enough to buy ready made. These are the only things which I use squirty cream for. Squirty cream is a good little indulgence as so much of it is air...... (or that's what I am telling myself).