Monday, 17 August 2015

A busy week

It has been a week for concentrating on the many jobs I needed to do, sorting out the Banks, doing a bit in the garden and helping DH as we have finally been able to contemplate retirement from our business. So lots happening.  My desk shot was an attempt to convey calm at the beginning of the week and this little lad is called Bailey and he is made of mohair, and is so cute.  Not as cute as Bella our real Border Terrier but she can't sit on my desk ... I love my mug too but I had two, one had a wee field mouse on it and I broke it a couple of months ago, dropped it in the greenhouse and that floor is paving slabs, you can guess the rest.

Now this is something I am really proud of. I Grew this little beauty from a cutting last summer and this bloom is simply huge.  Those petals at the bottom are about as big as they can get.  I think I will need to reach for the tape measure tomorrow and just see how big they really are. I know this one is a Niger variety because the stems (which you can't see in the photo are black).  I looked it up on Google and was not sure how it would turn out, blue or pink or in between?  But as you see it is stunningly pink and I am so pleased because that is what I wanted.

The book I ordered (Diane Gaudynski's classic 'Guide to Machine Quilting') arrived sooner than I expected and it was in mint condition which surprised me because it came from ABE books.  I only paid £13.13p for the book and delivery so I was very pleased.  Also it is not dated at all despite being in it's 9th reprint.  It explains everything I have needed to know and not had answers to for the last ten years.  Why I did not buy it before I cannot imagine because I have had so many light bulbs moments since it arrived on Saturday.  Anyway, I thought best start immediately and put these tips and ideas into motion so I prepared some samples to quilt and away I went.  Below you see the results, this may not look much, but believe me I am improving.  The second photo gives you a better idea of the scale, and yes the fabric is custard yellow, and not a trick of the electric lights.  I am only about half way through the book so I must keep reading and practising.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Festival of Quilts 2015 - In The Spotlight

I have a quilt in the exhibition called 'In The Spotlight' which is a small gallery showing up and coming quilters at the show and it is not part of the competitions so it is not judged at all.  Trouble is that not all the quilters are up and coming, some are well known and it is stretching the term a bit.... I will say no more.

Anyway, this is the first time I have ever had a quilt put up at a major show and so I thought I would post a photo of it.  This is the one I took at home because the show organisers have put a spotlight shining onto the middle of the quilt and I think it is too bright so the photo of it I took at the show is not as good as this one I took in my spare bedroom at home.  The theme we were given was "Adventures in Wonderland" to celebrate 150 years of the Alice in Wonderland book by Lewis Carroll.  I liked the rabbit because of its heart heraldry.  I think if you look closely you will see I have tried to inject some humour into the theme.  I am pleased with the quilt but think I should have quilted the background, so I ordered Diane Gaudynski's book called 'Guide to Machine Quilting' just now because I think it will inspire me.  When I receive the quilt back I may have another fiddle with it.  After all, I am an up and coming quilter and I am still learning.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

I have had no inclination to blog since early summer for various reasons but want to get back into the swing again now with a new start. So I will be posting very soon but meanwhile here is a curiosity on my bookcase in my sewing room which has moved since we extended the house, so I now have the front room with much better light for my sewing machine in a bay window.

A gift of ceramic thimbles from a friend and a curious reel of thread


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Re covered a favourite Ercol armchair

Hi All,

I have been doing a few jobs around the place as the builder has stalled with finishing off.  Why is it so difficult for builders to manage several jobs?  Anyway, he has left us with holes in walls and rough brickwork for about 4 weeks now and not shown any signs of coming back to plaster etc.  So I have been coping with a house which is semi disrupted by every spare room being piled with stuff from the two rooms affected....

The sewing is still going on though as that is one way of coping with the frustration.  I fancied doing a patchwork job on this chair to match one I recently bought which is deliberately 'jazzy' so this is my take on the latest trend.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Why I have not been blogging of late

We decided to extend the house and the top picture shows how radical the opening was to the new area.  The second photo shows the new glass conservatory after the fitters left but there is still much for the builder to finish and he is working on several projects at once so we have to wait for him.

After he finishes off all the plastering DH needs to fix the floors and put in under floor heating and tiles. Then we will need to decorate the conservatory, kitchen and my lounge.  So it looks like a busy summer and not much time for blogging about sewing I am afraid, however, I do have a project which I am in the middle of, so it might surface sometime!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Windermere Deanery Mothers' Union quilted banner project

It has been a long time since I attended to this blog but I have been involved in a lovely project which took over my spare time for a while.  I want to show you how the project  progressed in this posting but first let me explain what it was.  If you do not live in Cumbria you may not have heard of one of our treasures, it is Cartmel Priory.  A beautiful place which I have visited in the past on my frequent cycle rides when I used to live in Levens where it was a superb afternoon ride there and back to my house.

Anyway, I was asked if I would make a new quilted banner to be hung in Cartmel Priory but which would be used at the various churches in the Windermere Deanery Mothers' Union.  The design had already been sketched out by the time I was asked to become involved.  So it was just a simple matter then to make the quilt, or was it?

Original sketch showing the Saints heraldry of the churches
I must admit when I saw the complexity of the design my first reaction was how on earth was I to do the heraldry?  Well came the answer from my brain, how about machine embroidery?  Of course that is what I do best, so it was easy then......So what about all that lettering in such a confined space?  Hmm, I pondered it and realised that my desktop publishing skills would be needed there and if I could design the letters on paper then they could be tried and tested before being made out of fabric.  So it was beginning to form in my head, but what about the Langdale Pikes and Windermere?  Easy peasy said my brain.

So here is the design process.

Firstly I spent a lot of time studying images of the Langdale Pikes whenever I felt I needed inspiration.  This is from an old postcard and gives a good idea of what I was looking for.  Clear shapes had to be used for the Pikes to be recognisable. I knew that I would not be able to put in too much detail but I also wanted to make the outline of the hills very sharp against the sky. I also started 'sky watching' anyone out walking with me would have been amused as I looked up at all the combinations of sky I could. I asked my arty friend and the reply was 'don't attempt to do clouds', but I had to do something I thought, so one day I laid out my Egyptian cotton and carefully set to work with my silk paints.  I was quite pleased with the result and decided to start on the lettering, and then I played with the various fonts until I found one which worked.

Spindly lettering did not work but the top font had potential
I also decided that I would need to break the quilt up into chunks to make it easier to design and then sew it together at the end, this meant I could isolate problems and work them to a satisfactory finish before attempting the next stage, a useful tactic which saved me from becoming distracted.  But I did work on some pieces at the same time so as I was designing the sky and lettering I was also starting on the heraldry.
Paper and card mock ups of some of the Saint's heraldry and the MU logo
I designed some of these on my computer and used a drawing from my DH of a medieval sword. I also researched St. Cuthbert's coat of arms.  I had seen his pectoral cross at Durham Cathedral when I went to see the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in the summer of 2013.

I also spent time looking at banners as used by the Mothers' Union because I wanted to see how they were constructed and took a few photos of banners in Churches I visited.  This all helped to keep the project current in my brain.

Carefully lining up the letters and checking the spacing.

The banner was starting to grow.  So I decided on the main grey fabric for the lake next and then applied pieces of printed paper scenery and auditioned each piece to see if it would work

Playing with cut outs and making decisions

An island for the lake was essential but what colour to use?

It was slow going at times but I was enjoying this bit.  Popping a tree here and there.

A rocky escarpment above the lake was given some leafy plants.

I was not sure what to place along the bottom of the scene so decided to make it look a bit like a rocky ledge with boulders and bits of May flowering plants such as rhododendrons and fox gloves and placed more dark pieces on the lake to make it look like large dark gusts of wind sweeping across the surface.

Nearly there.

The bottom of the quilt was filling up now and the shields had all been placed on three inch squares of green fabric which became lighter as they reached the outside edges, a little touch which made them more jewel like. The background fabric for the shields was chosen to match the top of the rocky ledge which had become important to the design. All of the shields had been embroidered too and they really worked well together.  From the left, St. Mary, the single lily; St. Michael, the cross; St. James, the shells of pilgrimage; St. Paul, the sword and book; MU logo; Holy Trinity, three fishes; St. Cuthbert, his pectoral cross; St. John the Baptist, Maltese cross; and lastly, St. Anne, the lilies.

The scenery design waiting to be embroidered.
Next the exciting bit; I turned on my trusty Bernina, oiled and cleaned her, dropped the feed dogs, and did a trial on my little embroidery frame to check the tension; all good.  I had now to really concentrate and did the sewing in small chunks of about two hours each.  Anymore, and I risked making a costly mistake because tired eyes are no good when you need to be precise.  No photos were taken as the sewing progressed because I was so engrossed and distractions were the last thing I wanted,  no this was full on sewing.

But it was worth it I think.

It was a windy day over the Langdale Pikes.

Dark patches moved across the surface of Windermere.

I signed the quilt off on the back with a feeling of relief and sorrow because it was over.

The date and maker label and the MU Logo on the back.
I liked the calm simplicity of the back of the quilt which contrasted with the front.

A simple, bold set of tabs and no frills border worked well.
There comes a time when you have to part with something you have made and give it to the owners and I felt quite attached to it really.  But I did go to the dedication ceremony on Tuesday (Lady Day) and we had a lovely time at St. John the Baptist's Church, Flookburgh with a lovely service followed by a superb afternoon tea.  So thank you, and well done ladies and special thanks to Gail Swanson for giving me the commission and the lunch too!  I hope you enjoy the banner for years to come.