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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Not the best start ...

Yesterday I decided to get going on the Tessellating T's quilt in black and white that has been been planned for ages. Cut the first black and lots of white pieces which will be the background, checking the measurements 100 times. You guessed it, when I came to make the first block I'd cut the larger background squares 1/2" too small, so now I have masses of 5 3/8" squares to use up.Maybe there will be pillowcases too? I tried piecing to make it bigger - as below - but it doesn't look good so will re-cut, I think I have enough fabric. Hope this is not an omen!

I really like the pattern and it is tricky enough to be a reasonable challenge for me. 54 blocks to go. Target finish date is the recipients birthday (not named in case she gets to see this) in March.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Two cushions and a partridge in a pear tree

Yippee all my quilted Christmas presents are finished.

The first cushion was folded patchwork with a free motion, painted back. That was a combined present for Olivia's birthday and Christmas and was posted on Monday. She's called to say she loves it


These colours are better

First success with roller painting.
A huge improvement on before
Many thanks to Linda and Laura Kemshall who inspired me to roller paint. I was marginally tempted to do the same with the whole quilt cushion below but courage failed when I had trouble deciding on the right colour and thought how long I had worked on it. Also I got the impression that Anthea didn't really liked the painted one and it will be under her tree on Sunday.
I'm not too pleased with the whole quilt side because the thread was not enough contrast, that's a lesson learned. Nevertheless my first attempt at hand quilting was very enjoyable and portable; I did a bit on holiday in the Azores as well as a few other places.

Accurate colours

Shows the traditional Welsh pattern better?
The concept is a 'normal' front and a Christmas back. The new machine is definitely better with metallic thread than the old and the free motion quilting seemed a bit easier than with Carolina Row so perhaps I'm getting the hang of it. Or was it the glass of red wine as recommended by Pippa? Still managed to stitch my finger - won't be doing that again!

Now to wrap a few presents.......

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Carolina Row All Done

The sweet glow of satisfaction reigns. My Dad's Christmas present is now sitting underneath his tree all wrapped and labelled.

The parallel quilting for the roofs and sky worked out really well.
 The in the ditch for the houses and freehand border not quite so good, blame it on the new machine

The label was my first and I really made a meal of it with six tries before it was half acceptable for my perfectionist father. Isn't the border a great match? It was a St David's Foundation shop man's shirt bargain for £1.
I do hope he likes it.

Am more than a bit worried it's not big enough for a lap quilt for him and plan to add an extra 'stack of coins' border all round if needed.

The final product is pretty male and looks good in situ.

Sigh of relief! Now there's just one more Christmas present to make - the backing for the wholecloth cushion.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Carolina Row progress and Bargello revealed

Am getting on well with the quilting, the new Bernina is easier than the old one and the learning curve is easing off slightly. I find machine quilting quite tiring so want to take it slowly to avoid too much undoing but must crack on. Christmas is getting closer and I'm away for a week or so before without access to the machine.

I have ordered a waterproof pen highly recommended for the label. Nothing I've done has been labelled yet, though I have signed one in free motion so need to try harder to be a 'proper' quilter.

This post needs a picture so here is one I prepared earlier - the quilt that was signed. My first ever made for Harriet to have at uni.Got a bit carried away with the Kaffe Fassett style photos in my garden but I did use some of his fabrics.

Bargello Quilt and Lining

Harriet liked the bag too 

Friday, 2 December 2011

It's been a long time ...

I have been busy doing lots of things and didn't meet many (any?) of the October goals then but a new surge of sewing energy hit me in November. Could it be the imminence of Christmas?

Japanese bag is done and in use:
Japanese Bag best side

Japanese Bag side 2
 It has been admired and one person even wanted to buy it but suddenly wasn't interested when I quoted a price not even realistic to the  work. It holds lots so the bottom gets very floppy but 2 pieces of plastic canvas in the base seem to be working well. 
Now I've got the hang of the pattern, I might make a slightly smaller one with 4" or 4.5" blocks instead of 5"

Carolina Houses quilt is well on the way, all pieced and borders attached. Have bought the threads to quilt and selected the backing so it's 'just' a matter of doing it.

Carolina Row lap quilt
I'm very pleased with this. Lots of work (260 pieces), fiddly, made my head hurt sometimes, endless undoing, and still far from perfect on close examination, but not bad! Also quite challenging to meet the no red/green criteria for my colour blind 92 year old ex civil engineer Dad. 
Yes I know it has the dark red but think/hope that's OK without green. The colours will go well in his sitting room and the backing is his favourite combination of dark and light blues. The coup de grace (hopefully) will be the charity shop shirting binding combining colours from both sides. Thank you St David's Foundation Pontypool

Carolina Row Backing and Binding

My big news is that I have a new sewing machine. About 2 years old, a Bernina Aurora 430 and already using my my 31 year old 801 is becoming a dim memory. Still learning lots and am thinking of doing the Bernina training course in London. I did that last time and it helped a great deal. This one has so may tools and tricks that I need help to master them all and get the full benefit.
New Aurora 430 2009
Old 801 c 1980

Quilting Carolina Row will be the first quilting project on the Aurora, will do a mix of fixed lines and free motion. Really looking forward to it and hoping the tension will be easier than before

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Toastmasters International Area 22 Humourous and Table Topics Contest

This post is a bit of a departure from quilting. I do have another life and this seems an easy good place to record a marvellous afternoon in Newton Abbot. Well done to all who took part and performed roles especially the winners:
Photos show Charlotte Hitchings Area Governor, Area 22 presenting the awards

Table Topics
1st Jo Haskins
2nd Gareth McHale
3rd Sue Haswell

3rd Sue Haswell

2nd Gareth McHale
1st Jo Haskins
1st Gareth McHale
2nd Jo Haskins
3rd John Down
3rd John Down

2nd Jo Haskins
1st Gareth McHale
Now we're all looking forward to the Division Contest in Newbury on October 22nd. Good luck to Jo and Gareth. If today is anything to go by, it will be really terrific. Lots of great workshops too, details follow:

Division J Humourous Speech and Table Topics Competition

Venue: St Georges Centre Newbury  (Click here for a map)

Workshops, Contests, Lunch and Info - what more could you want!  
Come along to the first ever Division J Humorous Speech & Table Topics Competition!   We will have great sessions & workshops;

  • Malachi Talabi - 2011 D71 International Speech Contest Winner, 3rd Place SemiFinalist in the World Championship of Public Speaking in Vegas.  Malachi will be telling us about his journey to the US, and about his championship speech.

  • Chris Boden - 2011 D71 Evaluation Contest Winner - with a brand new workshop on evaluation, just for us

  • Martin Limburn - President of Armada Speakers - with ideas on how to rebuild clubs successfully

  • In addition, we will have an update from Teresa Dukes on the proposed reformation of the District.
    We will have stands on a range of subjects from speechcraft to promoting clubs.

    And we will of course have the most successful humorous speakers and table topics speakers in the Division battling it out to be the first ever winners of the Division J trophies, and for a place in the District Final in November

    The cost is £8, payable at the door.  It would be nice to know if you are coming, but feel free to turn up on the day.

    Saturday, 8 October 2011

    Bag project is still going

    Not quite finished but good progress. Slight crisis of confidence with handles - are they the right fabric I ask myself. Not enough of the binding for the handles but enough for the side ties - just. Also have thought of another fabric from my Calabash quilt, for some crazy reason not in my new  beautifully organised sewing room but filed under the spare room duve.That will teach me not to be messy with fabrics all over the place

    Plenty of room for a whole litter of  kittens in here

    This is how it will looks when folded up with the ties pulling in the sides
    Went to the Herbert Museum in Coventry today to see 'Patchwork through the Ages' and was lucky to meet the owner of the collection. He says it is just a quarter of the collection on show, so I encouraged them to hold another show with some more in my visitors book entry.

    This one is made from semi/half mourning materials

     This one from ribbons

     And this one is 12,000 minute hexagons and made by a 9 year old boy! He may have been convalescing

    Sadly the dress, bonnet and quilt made from feed sacks didn't come out. They were great, I has no idea that feed sacks were such gorgeous patterns.

    Thursday, 6 October 2011

    Lightbulb moment

    I think I've got it Professor Higgins - how could I have been so stupid before. Now to seam where pinned, line, bind, do handles, ties etc etc. Not even sure I like it at this stage, not that's anything new.

    Will it be ready to take to the Herbert Museum in Coventry on Saturday? Ever the optimist ............

    Anne Smith quilts exhibition and Japanese Bag

    An Exhibition of Quilts - Anne Smith

    We are so lucky here in South Wales, not only did we have a wonderful exhibition of Linda and Laura Kemshall's marvellous painted quilts at the Cynon Valley Museum until September but now there are Anne Smith's to follow. I can't wait to see them, a trip to Aberdare is on the agenda, after Saturday's visit to the Herbert Museum in Coventry.

    It started well, but now I'm battling with assembling the Japanese Bag - got so stuck that I had to ring the designers for help. I had some pieces the wrong way round, now corrected so about to have another go at assembling it. It will be worth it, mine has African fabrics as you might be able to see.

    The pattern comes from the book Easy Japanese Quilt Style by Julia Davies and Anne Muxworthy from Step by Step Patchwork in South Molton Devon. When it got desperate they were very patient and helpful and have offered to put it together for me but of course I want to do it myself. They'll be at Malvern if I haven't cracked it (or shot myself) by then.

    Monday, 3 October 2011

    Calabash Revealed

    My quilt history is working backwards. This is my second full size quilt and so far the last. Gwent Quilters' library provided the inspiration with the appropriately named Quilting Inspirations from Africa by Kaye England and Mary Elizabeth Johnson. A fabulous book, everyone who has seen it has been knocked out by the gorgeous interpretations using fabulous African fabrics. It went back to the library after 10 months but only after I'd bought my own copy!

     Kalahari Calabash was chosen because I loved it.Also it was a simple large log cabin 14" block and only needed 12 so seemed achievable. I had fallen for the batik fabrics at last October's Malvern show without anything in mind and as you can see they were an instant success teamed with the brown.

     Adding the vine part was fun and friends who popped round helped with the arrangement. It was good to use some scraps from Harriet's quilt, my first, for the leaves

    Of course a few extras were needed for the border and an inner frame. All from the same shop (am I allowed to say that one in Hereford?) who were hugely helpful

    As a beginner I found the shadow quilting of the blocks not at all easy and there was a fair bit of undoing before I was satisfied. 

    Michelle our teacher at evening class suggested big stitch quilting in a thick variegated thread (Stef Francis ?5) to highlight the leaves of the calabash vine which really made all the difference.

    Compared to the straight line quilting, the last minute vermicelli  free motion infill on the brown was a breeze.

    It's on my bed now and I sleep under it every night and love it every day.  Technically it's not finished as I still have to make a label, something else new to learn....

    Sunday, 2 October 2011

    Free Motion Bag is Done

    This project has been sitting around for far too long, so in the spirit of a tidier sewing room I decided to finish it before I allowed myself to start anything else.
    The background is that I went on a free motion course in June  (this year). We practised free motion quilting on squares for making up into a raggy bag. Afterwards I was really disappointed with how my efforts turned out, didn't like the fabrics and was inclined to abandon it.
    Then I needed some free motion practice before completing Beach Huts, managed to finish all 27 squares and by the time I got to the side and bottom gussets was really enjoying it and quite pleased with the results.This was due in no small part to the guidance in Christine Maraccini's 'Machine Quilting Solutions' as recommended by the course teacher.

     Later still I looked at putting them together into a bag and decided only 18 were useable.  I started along the *raggy bag lines but soon realised I hated the look with the fabrics and *sewed all the seams to the inside and neatened them by hand.
    The final stage was to *decide on a binding and apply it. (*Pictures previously posted). Applying it was very awkward as there is a gusset on three sides so had to bind a box shape. Of course it worked better at the bottom than the top and I had to try to conceal a certain amount of rather crummy hand sewing, but I'm so relieved it's finished. I even like it now.
     I was a bit stumped on how to create a tough strengthener for the base until I came across a reference to pelmet vilene. A curtain shop sold me some iron on buckram that I thought would be stiffer when ironed. It worked beautifully because it was self adhesive on both sides so I could iron all the raw edges in, once I'd cleaned off the iron and board. That's definitely a technique for future use, not that I need an excuse to make more bags. 

     The different colours of panels on each side are total serendipity - the result of using the only decent free motion samples but they're proving quite useful. If anyone asks, I'll say it was a cunning plan! Yesterday I wore a red jacket and today an orange shirt so could just wear the best side out. Of course the binding had to work with the panels and provide a good contrast, so I went for yellow against red and turquoise and orange against brown and blue. The binding fabrics are batik scraps from my Calabash Quilt, more on that coming soon. Modelled pictures show the sewing room is back in use again
    Brown and blues 

     Red and turquoise

     Just in time to beat the minimum 5p charge on plastic bags that started in Wales yesterday, yippee!