Monday, 21 December 2009

Hope you are all keeping warm

Very, very sunny here in Sydney, so I hope all UK readers are keeping warm. If you need to send someone a last minute card to keep them warm, stick a tea-bag in one of these and hope it gets there in the post.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Merry christmas all

Feeling a little fraught here as we are off to Australia tonight, and my son announced at the last minute that he has pictures in the school art show this evening.

So what a lovely surprise to open up a parcel and find this great tree of fabric, made by my local quilting friend.

I know that the fabrics are by Fabric Freedom as they were bought at a craft fair for the Downs Association, held in the Normansfield Theatre in Teddington. Visit if you get any opprotunity, it is a beautiful space.

No blogging until 2010, as I will be on the beach. Now, fingers crossed that I will be allowed to take my minuscule needle and blunt ended scissors on the place.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Early Christmas stitching

This is the December block from the 2009 challenge on British Quilt List ( Yahoo). Very quick to do and very effective. This is appliqued and quilted at the same time. I've added a few extra bits of quilting to the trees and a few bits of bling and sequins.

Quilted with my favourite threads, floss from Empress Mills. It does separate terribly, but with a top-stitch needle and the thread spool loose in a bowl, rather than on the spindle it is worth the effort. It has the sheen of much more expensive threads, at a fraction of the price. I was introduced to this thread at a workshop a few years ago with Leslie Morgan.

I've shown the back of this one, as I am really pleased with ow my FMQ has come on this year as a result of this challenge.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Gingerbread maaarrrggghhh

Easy Christmas sewing needed as life is a bit hectic. Sewed these up with this pattern, caramel felt from CalicoLaine ( beautiful quality and really soft) and ribbon from East of India.

Two are stuffed with polyster filling and the middle one with quilt wadding. I think that one is more biscuit like, so it is probably the prototype for the production line about to start.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

More charity stitching

Group meeting last night and a cascade of finished tops from our charity sew-a-thon. I think we made 10 tops and have 6 of them quilted and bound. Volunteer quilters, you know who you are, so many thanks.

This cot quilt has come up beautifully" crunchy" due to the density of the quilting.

I did take more photos, but I still can't get the hang of this multiple photo loading, so I'll leave it with this one pic.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Charity stitching

Our quilt group had a charity "stitch along" a couple of weeks ago, and I brought a set of blocks home to put in to a top. this was all donated fabric, hence the eclectic selection. I added some quieter inner borders and managed to add some similar squares to get an outer border. Quilted from the back with variegated thread around some great planets fabric from stash. This is about 40 inches square.

I don't know what's gone wrong with loading these photos, but I've had three attempts to fix it, and that's enough.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Stamping and stitching

Experimenting at the weekend with more stitching on some of the stamped blocks. I found some threads ( while looking for something else, inevitably) that I thought I had lost. These blocks are about 10 cm square.

I also practised some tassel making that our groups did at a workshop earlier this year. This book has very clear instructions and inspirational ideas if you want to follow-up on tassel making.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Stamping - but not my foot

After the rant below, I'm now back on an even keel and ready to try some of Sally Kelly's ideas from our workshop with her.

I have stamped some gold acrylic paint on to black cotton and then stitched some tight and loose French knots with my current favourite Sulky variegated orange cotton thread.

The group below are stamped with biscuit cutters, but not stitched yet. the acrylic paint doesn't withstand washing, so is really only for decorative use.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Join Liberty today

This is not post about Liberty fabrics, so sewers may not want to read on. However, if you value civil liberty, please do.

I have been dithering about for a few years about joining the campaign group Liberty. Today I did, after an incident last night with the police, claiming that I was driving without insurance.

I know I can forget to do some domestic tasks, but arranging insurance is not one of them. What had me incandescent with rage was the insistence by the police that their database could not be wrong and that I must be wrong. This was even after we phoned our neighbour who went in to our house to get the insurance documents, and quoted the policy number and renewal date over the phone to the police. Also despite my asking how i would have been able to renew my car tax online if I did not valid insurance, as the whole system is designed around this.

Despite the evident fact of existing insurance, I was then told I was driving at my own risk and the police would have been" fully entitled" ( their words) to arrest me and impound our car.

Today, I had a call from the PC who acknowledged that the database was indeed wrong, and " there is an inconsistency between the National Insurance Database and the copy that the police use".

Very, very worrying. If this can happen with car insurance, what else is wrong, and where else is the citizen assumed to be lying rather than there being a fault in the system?

But, don't be afraid, join Liberty and get campaigning.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Bling, bling, bling

This is my October calendar quilt for the British Quilt List challenge on yahoo. With darker nights approaching, I need some brightness to look at.
The red / fuchsia fabric is a silk dupion from a scrap leftover from the train of my wedding dress. These suppliers give fantastic service and can match to a colour swatch.
The gold windmills are an artificial fabric from a wacky 1980s jacket.

I really like the way the windmills are so three dimensional and tactile.
With this amount of gold, the machine quilting had to match, so " Bling" is FMQ in the central diamonds. Usually I just free stitch these, but this time I wrote the words on with a sliver of old soap ( feeling very frugal). the outer triangles are flattened with lines of FMQ.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Autumn and houses

Small scale stitching for now, trying to get in to the swing of two different sets of school timetables.

This is a journal for Richmond and Kew Quilters challenge, a mini-quilt for each season. Not surprisingly, this is autumn: leftover pieces of border from the current big quilt; the word, autumn, FMQd on; holographic thread fireworks; trapunto, embroidered felt pumpkins; freeform impressions of stags in the distance. I'm not sure if this has enough contrast over all, but it's OK.

Also some more stitched house obsession. This time in red and mounted on a natural linen frame.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

If I don't like log cabin , why did I decide to do this?

I am taking part in the BQL challenge on Yahoo - a 12 x 12 inch mini-quilt for each month of the year. This month it is a log cabin challenge. I think I suspected this one wasn't going to go well when I couldn't open the passworded ( is this a verb?) instructions on e:mail. The moderator kindly sent me another version and then the issues started:

  • it is log cabin and this isn't one of my favourite techniques
  • I decided to make this with some of my precious, ie "get this right as you only have one chance" silk kimono fabric
  • I also thought it would be fun to use some faces from a Michael Miller fabric that I have had for some time
  • I thought it would be interesting to try an off-centre log cabin, with thick and thin blocks
  • I am not a quilter who plans ahead - serendipity and " why don't I add.....?" are more my style. this was NOT the project for me.
  • I did try to draw out my blocks but realised I would need two different layouts to do what I wanted. I have never done this before, but in between the gnashing of teeth, I did learn some functions on our photocopier that I wasn't aware of.
  • After this failure, I remembered that, somewhere,I had some printed vilene, that would give lovely accurate logs - but this was a 1cm grid and not a quarter inch grid
  • some calculations later, I got to an approximation of a 3.5 inch block, but now having stitched the blocks, I realise that my calculations for the seam allowance are completely wrong
  • while stitching the blocks, I realised that the faces would all have to appear in the same direction to have the impact I wanted - another layout had to be chosen
  • ran out of the right colour of thread on a Sunday afternoon
  • the silks turned out to have different finishes on each side, which show up on some lights but not in others - the way I have placed these is of course deliberate to give variation to the surface texture!
  • I continually sewed the logs together in the wrong order - silk doesn't respond well to a seam ripper
  • the silk strips held together so effectively in my cut piles that one of the blocks has two strips sewn in on top of each other - again, a deliberate variation in surface texture
  • after all this, the quilting was never going to be perfect, so I thought I might as well make it prominent, so used a variegated orange thread to draw speech bubbles
Still someone once said that lots of mistakes, made in a consistent manner, are not mistakes, they are design elements. So, it is here now, full of design elements, but strangely likeable. I'm going to call this " Careless Whispers on Facebook" for reasons that are not appropriate to discuss here.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

OMG - one of my quilts is in a real book

Some time ago I answered one of those E:mails that come in to your inbox , that you look at and think - no, they wouldn't want one of mine. Well, this time, they did want one of mine.

One of my quilts ( based on a combination of some of Lynne Edwards blocks, some house blocks, my own pieced tree border and some sashing) is therefore now in the book opposite. It appears next to the title page ( the bed isn't mine - that was the stylist's). This is very exciting and it is the second time some of my quilting has been published. This one was chosen as I had hand quilted the blocks, which seems ironic as now I very rarely hand quilt.

On a quick glance through, the book looks like a good introduction to many quilting techniques, modern and traditional.<

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Lovely workshop with Sally Kelly

Lovely workshop last night with Sally Kelly who often has projects in "Stitch" published by the Embroiderer's Guild. She gave us all a calico square stamped with fabric paint and a selection of threads. Using couching, seeding and any other stitch we fancied, we stitched using the stamped patterns as a basis for the design. Very interesting to see how each person used the stamped image, and lovely to do.
I photographed this on a blue paper napkin and it goes very well on there - if I had tried to find a match I would have been there for hours! Serendipity is often the best project planner.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Charity shopping - Out of Africa

Charity shopping at the weekend and what a find. A skirt made from 3 Leopards fabric in brown and blue. The panels are about 36 inches long. I've added a photo of the inside as this is always printed with the 3 Leopards logo. This fabric has a really distinctive smell as it is printed using wax ( I think). Similar fabrics can be obtained from Maggie Relph at The African Fabric Shop.
A peaceful evening spent watching Marley and Me ( far too sentimental and eliminating most of the good bits of the book) and taking it apart resulted in these panels - I now need to plan what to do with them.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Curves and Christmas - already!

These are my first attempts at freeform curved piecing. Sewing these was easier than I anticipated, although I did have to unpick and resew a few valleys. Also the strips moved a bit when I was cutting them, so I held them down with various tins from the cupboard. The family were a bit puzzled at seeing tuna, beans, sweetcorn and canned tomatoes on the sewing board. These strips are the outer borders for a WIP quilt.

Although saying that I haven't been sewing much I have done yet more of these redwork stars which are a favourite pattern I bought in California about 8 years ago. They are a handy project to stuff in a bag and don't attract too much sand when done on the beach.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Autumn pronking

Very busy few weeks so not much sewing happening.

First conkers are down , younger son is back to school so autumn is here. In the spirit of pronking your home, the conkers are in a Ruskin blue bowl from Dartington pottery. I love this pottery and don't use it enough, but the conkers look wonderful against this blue.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


I had a weekend on my own this weekend as the rest of the family went camping in Devon. Besides making the August challenge for BQL from start to finish, I indulged in lots of lovely outings of little interest to my sons ( and dog!).

I went to Wisley, then to visit the lovely Nikki at The Patchwork Cabin in Great Bookham and ending in a visit to Polesden Lacey.

On Sunday I cycled to breakfast at Petersham Nurseries, then had a very leisurely visit to Ham House. This is a beautiful Stuart mansion that you could really imagine living in.

Lots of inspiring photos of avenues of clipped trees and hedges, just letting them turn over in my mind to become quilt designs.

The weekend ended with signing up for this new online quilting magazine Quiltposium, looks interesting and something to look forward to in September.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

London bricks, but is it art?

Off to the Science Museum with my sons to day to see the " Wallace and Grommit" exhibition - good fun, but not a lot of science in it. These wet bricks in the tunnel to the museum caught our eye. Amazing colours and although they look textured, they were very smooth.
Then off to the Serpentine Gallery to see the Jeff Koons exhibition. not my thing at all, but prompted some interesting debate with the boys about why was his work considered to be art but the interesting bricks weren't.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Summer journal - but there's no rain on it!

This is my summer journal quilt, called " Summer Twilight" for our quilt group challenge.
I've used a beautiful piece of silk from a kimono roll and various cottons to make the flowers. The large flowers are loosely attached to the fabric by the centres, the smaller ones are sewn on all round the edges.
The smaller ones were made with this technique ( you need to scroll down the entry to near the bottom), the larger ones were made with the technique mentioned a few posts ago.
Machine quilted with a walking foot and Sulky variegated thread, and bound with some torn strips of the silk fabric, with the frayed edges brought to the front.
The blue silk has a different appearance on the back and the front of the fabric and I've used these different sides on different pieces of the binding.
I really like how this has come out but I'm pondering on adding some beads to reflect the rain there has been in most of this summer's twilights!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Bad Science - read if you can

Not much stitching going on due to school holidays, but lots of reading being done by everyone. I've just started reading " Bad Science" by Ben Goldacre, which is excellent.
As a scientist, I am constantly frustrated at the lack of understanding about good scientific method and how the media manipulates the lack of understanding about relative risk.
Similarly, I am disappointed at how gullible many people are about miracle cures and superfoods. This book is a great starting point if you are beginning to question some of what you are reading or hearing in the media about science and how it affects our world.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Fabric flowers, a new way- Kanzashi,

So, I have seen lots of ways of making fabric flowers and then what do I find - a completely new fabric flower, called kanzashi.

I've tried to make a couple and they are coming along. Not enough to photograph yet, but they'll be here. This new book on a modern take to the technique looks as if it will be interesting.

No time for much more as I'm flitting between work and home computers this afternoon.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Round Robin, glimpse

I'm on the third stage of the Round Robin that our quilt group is doing this year. I tried out a few different techniques in this one, including: pentagon flowers from Fantastic Flower Folding; applying bias strips by using the space on the full presser foot to feed the strip under the needle; 3D strips as used in the June challenge from British Quilt List; copying some flower centres that I saw on a dress I tried on recently - didn't like the dress, but liked the flower technique ( 3 pinked circles, each one gathered separately in to a clump and then sewn on very close to each other).

I can't show more of this as the ultimate owner may be looking in.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Swan, Ferret and other wildlife

If you get a chance to do a workshop with Ferret, then I strongly encourage you to do so. These are pics of work in progress and my product at the end of the day of her workshop " Art Quilt by Numbers" .
She is a marvellous teacher and is very generous at sharing her techniques. This swan is made entirely from scraps of fabric. The quilting will be done this weekend hopefully, strangely enough I'm hoping for more rain tomorrow!
BUT, I'm not hoping for rain tonight as our family are off to an outdoor concert to see The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain. See them if you can - very good musicians and very witty performers.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Superb talk from Ferret on Monday

We had a superb talk from the fantastic Ferret at our quilt group on Monday. Is is great to see how she uses traditional techniques in modern settings. Lots of attendees commented on her use of black where white might have been a more expected colour.

We have a workshop planned with her on Saturday - "Quilt by Numbers" that we are all looking forward to. Off to pull the relevant fabrics from my stash - who knows I might not even have the right ones, so could be surfing those online shops tonight!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Pronk your home

I read the Dutch word " pronk" on a blog a few months ago and it really struck a chord. Pronk as quoted on that blog means " to display one's best" or " to show off".
This year I have decided to pronk in my home by using one's best rather than having is on a high shelf to protect it from marauding boys! Hence this little jug, which is " too small to be practical" ( to quote some in our house) now being used to store pens and pencils next to the phone.
I bought it at this art show a couple of years ago.

PS, I see other definitions of pronk on the web, such as "jumping straight up like a kangaroo" - hope this isn't what happens to my jug.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

What to do with a tangle of threads?

I found a huge tangle of threads in the back of my car after the most recent Region 1 Regional day. As these are my favourite colours I didn't want to throw them away.

Here they are on a Little Gem, called " The Big Tangle" . The hearts are an experiment with water-soluble stabiliser, sewn straight on to the stabiliser using a sprung embroidery hoop and then sewn on to this piece with invisible thread. The little hands were made with polymer clay and a push-out mould - a bit fiddly but good fun.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Pastel houses

Pastel houses this time, very summery. I think I'm getting addicted to these.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Stitching with my son

My son went to the Wetlands Centre with school this week and had to write, make or draw something inspired by the visit. As I wanted to do something with fabric, I persuaded him that we could adapt the logo for the centre into a fabric picture.

We used bondaweb, (and failed miserably at the mirror image, copy it backwards, and reverse it again thing that you have to do with bondaweb, particularly when you want to use both sides of the fabric).
He did very well at the cutting out and ironing on. We did a bit of a 3D effect by leaving the tops of the grasses free from the backing fabric. He then stitched round the edge with a metallic thread. the backing fabric is a lovely piece I got at the Region 1 bring and buy last weekend. I love the ripply effect on this.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Houses, thanks to Janet

I went to a great workshop with Janet Clare in January this year to learn how to do free motion pictures, without any marking. It was a lovely day and has led to several hours stitching away at little houses.

In March, I bought one of these fab pictures, and wondered if I could do something similar with the houses. These are my first two attempts. I'm not sure which colourway I prefer, and inevitably I now have lots more ideas brewing!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Hmmm, no pictures - here they are

Don't know what happened with that last post, but here are the pictures that are supposed to be there.

Stunned: I've won something from a blog give away

I added a comment to the blog of Patricia Zapata, who designs the most beautiful objects in paper and card,....... and I won this a lovely way to use some scraps of my all tme favourite fabrics. Thanks Patricia.

I was also practising some techniques with washaway stabiliser that one of my friends had told me about - it was great fun and led to some hearts and a rather ungainly figure, but good on cards. The bird was a test of a 3D piece using the leaves technique from one of the projects in " Simple Gifts to Stitch" at the weekend.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Bank holiday sewing

We were busy this weekend with our younger son's birthday swim and sleepover. (Why do boys of 11 in a group need to keep getting louder and louder until you have to be louder than them to get any response?)

After that , I needed to get to my sewing machine, but didn't have much time, so I used the scraps from my word block and from the birds quilt to make a quick postcard. I was a bit sceptical about fabric postcards when I first saw them, but I really enjoy making these when there just isn't enough time but when you NEED to do something with fabric.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Words - round robin

My quilting group is about to start a round robin. We take a very liberal interpretation of the round robin concept, and ask participants to set a theme and then other participants can add to it as the originator specifies. We will have 6 rounds in the round robin.

I am increasingly interested in using words in quilts and so have set the theme for my round robin as " Words, words, words.....". My starter block uses the free-piecing letter technique as demonstrated by Tonya of Lazy Gal Quilting. The word I have used is a word coined by my younger son to describe his duvet when the filling was distributed unevenly.

This is the first time I've used this technique and the liberated approach appeals to me.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Reuse and recycle

My older son's school has been gathering fruit net bags to use in an art installation this term. I love the orange colour of the bags used for citrus fruit and wanted to make a little journal quilt with them. Many thoughts have gone in to this one, but particularly the pressure on young women to spend a fortune on wedding dresses that they will wear once.

In the spirit of recycling, the net is filled with scraps of offcuts from the birds quilt. The dress has machine trapunto behind it, and the upper torso is free-machine stitched onto the background calico. The words are written on with a pigma pen in red. I've left the bottom of the dress and the end of the quilt as a raw edge to give a bit of movement. I quilted round the edge and then added a few more wobbly contours for a play on body / geographical contours. The wording on the left side says "how many times will she get to wear that?", and on the right says " reduce, re-use, recycle, re-make, revamp, repair".

I quite like this, but my drawing skills need more work! This one is off to the Little Gems fundraiser.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Charity shopping - love it!

Look at this great vintage fabric I found in a charity shop. Lots of options for a train fan's quilt or quilt backing.

Several of the charity shops near us have gone too upmarket with prices likewise. There are still a couple of gems where bargains and bizarre bits can be found.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

First post

On encouragement from my sons this is my blog. Typically today is busy, so the post is short. Done so far: two lots of washing; trips to music shop, optician and fishmonger; stitching.

Stitching was adding some stitched detail to a bird block , based on the book, "Material Obsession".