Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Make your own starch

I have been quilting for a number of years but had never realised that it is a good idea to starch the back of a quilt so it moves more freely through the machine when free motion quilting. The tip is not mine, all credit is due to Diane Gaudynski. I came across her work in a round about way but realised that she had one of her quilts in Harriet Hargrave's book 'Heirloom Machine Quilting' which first started me off on the road to machine quilting. Anyway, Diane gives a recipe for starch which I have tried and tested and it really is good.

I have interpreted it for English use.


Dissolve half a teaspoon of cornflour in 2 tablespoons of cold water in a (1 pint) Pyrex jug. Add boiling water to make up a quarter of a pint and stir constantly, then add cold water to make half a pint. Let it cool and use it in an old pump spray bottle. Give it a good shake every now and then.

She says don't starch fabric for storage or 'it will attract little critters', so obviously it is ok to use if the quilt is going to be washed fairly soon. I have not tried it on my machine embroidery because it does not get washed and I don't want to attract little critters, but it has been used on my quilts lately and is ok.

I use it when I am pressing all of the squares or blocks and it works fine, plus you can use it to build up stiffness by spraying a few times. I regularly wash my quilts because most of them are in use on beds as I don't use duvets, which I dislike. I have friends coming to stay in a couple of weeks (they have a contemporary, warm, flat in Glasgow, with thick duvets) so I just need to make a quicky quilt because the two in the spare room are fine in Spring/summer but at this time of year a third might? be needed on the bed. I layer them according to the seasons and they all are rotated so they can be washed often, which is much nicer than a duvet when only the cover is cleaned frequently. I use cotton sheets under the quilts so they are the top layer, and I find I don't need blankets.

Here are some piccies of the Amy Butler fabric which is going to be quilted using a wool batting so its warm for the spare room. I am also using some fabric I picked up in a 'thrift store' in Palm Springs, California, when I was out visiting my daughter and her family in October. (You would be amazed at the shops in California, but that is another story.)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Machine embroidery tip

Sometimes you need to stand back from something and view it another way. Two ways of doing this are to 1. leave it a few days and go back with fresh 'eyes' and 2. to take a photo and then have a look at it instead. So given that a piece of machine embroidery I am working on needs accurate colours for water and sky, I decided to take a photo and placed some thread on it so that I could check the colours for suitability. (The piece is for the wall hanging and it is Catbells seen from Derwentwater.) This is the right side of the lake and I need to bring it to life with a bit of a shine so I am using Madeira embroidery thread. The left side has gone towards blue and I want to introduce a bit more green. It is never easy depicting water and the whole idea is that the lake should have movement, like ripples. So I have now 'auditioned' this thread as the Americans say! I know it seems to be a lot of trouble but you can't really unpick machine embroidery and sometimes you just have to go for it.....

The second problem is the sky, which at the moment is just painted on with silk paint, incidentally the fabric is a rough, tough calico. So this second photo should help me decide on the colours for the sky.

I need to bring a bit more tone into the composition too, but that can wait until I add some shading which is missing. So its more work on the Bernina this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I thought you might like to see a couple of photos from the felt making at Threlkeld last week. So here is a shot of some Nuno felt shown to us as an example of what could be achieved.

The photo below shows Marilyn explaining how to start treating the edges of the first felting so that they are straight.

It was a very good workshop but I could not stay to see what happened in the afternoon session, however, I did bump into Joan who said it had been very worthwhile. You can of course do so much with felt, and just to prove it, here is another picture of Marilyn's dog Holly, but this time the felted version. Isn't it cute!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Tips for printing your own fabric

I have been working most of the day on a special project which is going reasonably well. (A necessity as hubby and friend are putting up a covered way outside and the sound of drilling has forced me to bolt into my sanctuary.) I don't often work on small quilts, unless they are for Linus, but I find that when it comes to adding embroidery to a quilt I prefer to work on a much smaller scale. So this is going to be fun because it combines my love of machine embroidery and quilting, but I have also added some hand embroidery on this one too.
The last small quilt I made and embroidered I entered into a national competition and it did not win a prize but did have a photo shown in Patchwork & Quilting Magazine; so it was a runner up. This is the quilt, it's called 'Fuji Autumn'.

When I made this quilt I decided that all of the fabric would also be made by me, so I printed every single bit of it on my ink jet printer. I was quite pleased with the results as the colours did not fade too much from the original but of course they are never quite as bright as on the computer screen. Here is a close up of the leaves and flowers which were all made the same way and then heavily starched before cutting out and applying to the background. Then I used Robison Anton 'Twisted Tweed' thread to embroider on top of them.

The next photo shows a close up of mount Fuji and again I used embroidery to enhance the effect of the snow and rocks, but this time I used some Madeira thread too.
  • Remember to exaggerate the colours because they are going to fade.
  • Use simple clear designs which are not too fussy.
  • Watch the proportion of elements in the design you may need to use your software to scale up or down.
  • Ordinary 'compatible' inkjet ink works ok.
  • Cotton fabric with a close count like 'percale' works well.

Of course I made the fabric myself, but you can buy commercially produced sheets which you use in your printer, but be aware they are extremely expensive. It is much cheaper to make your own!

Hand Embroidery Enthusiasts and Beginners this is for you!

I just have to share this new discovery with all of you, would you believe that Mary Corbet has a series of videos showing all of these stitches:-

Line Stitches & Bands

* Running Stitch
* Whipped Running Stitch
* Backstitch
* Whipped Backstitch
* Stem Stitch
* Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch
* Coral Stitch
* Outline Stitch
* Couching
* Split Stitch
* Herringbone Stitch
* Double Herringbone Stitch
* Cretan Stitch
* Chevron Stitch
* Fern Stitch
* Palestrina Stitch
* Ladder Stitch
* Mountmellick Stitch
* Knotted Diamond Stitch

Chain, Fly, and Buttonhole Stitches

* Chain Stitch
* Heavy Chain Stitch
* Double Chain Stitch
* Raised Chain Stitch Band
* Alternating or Checkered Chain Stitch
* Cable Chain Stitch
* Rope Stitch
* Rosette Chain Stitch
* Wheat Stitch
* Vandyke Stitch
* Fly Stitch - Horizontal
* Fly Stitch - Vertical
* Feather Stitch
* Double Feather Stitch
* Blanket Stitch / Buttonhole Stitch
* Buttonhole Wheels

Detached Stitches & Knots

* Lazy Daisy
* Seed Stitch
* Spider Web - Ribbed
* Bullion Knots
* French Knot
* Colonial Knot
* Oyster Stitch
* Drizzle Stitch
* Woven Picot

Filling Stitches

* Fishbone Stitch
* Cretan Stitch
* Detached Buttonhole Filling
* Satin Stitch
* Lattice Work
* Bokhara Couching
* Roumanian Couching
* Trellis Stitch

Miscellaneous Embroidery Techniques

* Bullion Rose Bud Tutorial
A little over 13 minutes, this tutorial demonstrates how to make rose buds using the bullion knot. It also covers beginning and ending your threads when working small embroidery motifs.

They are all to be found on her website so if you want to sit back and learn a new stitch then just go here
You will see the videos at the top right hand side of her website under
'Video Library of Stitches' so just click on this and then scroll down to the list of stitches which is in exactly the order I have posted it above. Enjoy.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Australian Bush Fires Appeal for Fabric

Hi everyone,

I have sent a fat quarter of fabric to this appeal as it is for such a good cause. You can read about it here on Jenny Bowkers blog. Basically a lady called Alice has lost her home in the fires and she is a quilter. So if you can spare any fabric suitable for quilts it would come in handy to keep her active in the next few months, she is also planning to share fabric with a group of other ladies in Buxton. This is the fat quarter I sent.
I know she lost a quilt she was making for her daughter in the fire and it was in blues and pastels, but really any spare fat quarters or fabric for quilts will do. I love the idea of a 'phoenix quilt' group, rising from the ashes too! So dig deep ladies and the address is on Jenny's site if you follow the link above.

Monday, 9 February 2009

More Dollies

I have just received another two piccies of dollies for the workshop from Gill Reid, so I might as well include them today and then you have them all, so first up is this cute little dolly.....

I just love the sweet little pink bow in her hair, and speaking of hair if you decide to make the cute dollies as opposed to the 'weird' fairy type of doll then you will need to remember to add some wool for her hair to the list of items needed for the workshop. Gill recommends about 50g per head of hair.

So next up is cute dolly number two....

I think dolly number two looks like a bit more of a swot.. I expect she will be liked by little girls or big ones who have ambitions. Love the freckles too. So now you have seen all of the options for the workshop, please don't forget to let Pat Knifton know if you are going to attend. It might also be a good idea to let Pat know which type of dolly you might be inclined to make as well.

BREAD (Kenwood Mixer style)

I have been making bread for many many years, probably over 30, and I always use my trusty Kenwood Chef as I started long before bread makers were invented or sold. The Kenwood does more than bread of course but its mainly used for that function and so here is my foolproof recipe.

Place in the mixing bowl one sachet of yeast, the type you buy for bread makers and then 1lb 2oz of flour. You can vary the type of flour as much as you like but if you use more wholemeal you may need slightly more water. So for instance you can use 8oz of wholemeal and 10oz of white, or something in equal proportions. I sometimes take an oz or 2 of flour out and add instead nuts and fruit or seeds or a mixture, even cheese sometimes. Next I measure out olive oil (usually 3 tablespoons), but sometimes 4 if I want a very flexible dough say for pizza and mix in with the dough hook. I leave this whilst I go and pour boiling water into a glass jug up to the quarter of a pint mark and then top up with cold water to the half pint mark. This is poured into the bowl and then mixed thoroughly and kneaded for a few minutes, this always depends on time but I find it does not alter the bread much, so usually for approx 4 - 5 minutes. That's it, you should end up with a dough which leaves the sides of the mixing bowl clean, if not you can add a little more flour and then mix again, but remember you should never add more water after the first amount so if it's too dry you may have used too much flour.

I leave this to stand in its bowl just covered up with a damp clean T towel until doubled in size and then I turn the machine on again briefly to knock back the dough. Once ready, you just place onto your tray, or into your bread tin or whatever and leave to rise for the second time. (Do oil the tin.) I usually bake this one loaf for 35 minutes, the oven must already be at temperature and that is on 210c fan assisted oven. You can divide the mixture into rolls and then they take approx 15-20 minutes. Tap the bread on the bottom and if it sounds hollow it is cooked.

Of course you can mix this bread by hand and sometimes I have had to or have added a couple of minutes kneading to the initial dough just for the sheer pleasure it brings. Nothing beats kneading a bit of dough for bread, all those frustrations can be put into good use ;-)

Bye the way, the lovely bread roll holder was made by Val Osborn, she knows a thing or two and if you want to know how to make it, just ask.

Hello Dolly

Well I now have some photos sent on by Gill Reid ready to inspire you all for her March 19th Workshop called 'Head Cases'.

There are various views of the same doll and here is number one a close up of her face...

Another view shows us her back with her very dainty wings.....

And here she is showing off her embroidered? waistcoat.......

So if you have not booked this workshop yet it might be an idea to let Pat Knifton know you want to attend. (Please note that I do not put phone numbers on this blog.)

I have just been looking on the web for some more supplies of silk waste for making my own silk paper and I found a site called Stef Francis which deals with everything to do with dyed threads so I now know where to buy them. I have added her to the list of websites in the sidebar on the right of the blog if you want to go take a peek.

I will be adding more blogs and links to this site as soon as I find some which I think will be good to include. You can see that I have upgraded the list of blogs by showing a picture when a new post is made and I have also added Ferret Fabrications to the list she is the quilter who made 'Herd Mentality'. This is a photo I took of this award winning quilt at the NEC in the summer.

Did you know that Ferret is running a workshop on Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th June in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire? It's called 'Art Quilting with Ferret' and the price is £90 for the 2 days plus there is accommodation available. So if anyone is interested, please let me know and I will pass on the details, I am certainly interested.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Labor Omnia Vincit

Well, that was a mouthful, but if you know what it means you will understand why I used it for this posting. It's been a long day, literally, I awoke about 4.55am and nothing I tried would get me back to sleep, so I did the usual and made off for the kitchen to put the kettle on; back in bed with T for 2 and Bella snuggled between the sheets all was cosy. That's when I went through my mental list of all the jobs I have to do between now and Rheged. Don't know why I focused on the Regional Day but it was as good as any other. So I have made a start and number one is the Carpet Bag! Yes I finished it a couple of days ago but had not found time to take the photos, so here are some shots I took this morning.If you remember our ladies were given this lovely Turkish furnishing material by my special friend in Rosthwaite. So I just had to try and make the bag using the best angle on this lovely flower, I think its a poppy. The clever bit is that this fabric is reversed, i.e. I used the back of it not the front as it looked thicker and more lush.

The design I made up myself after studying bags on the internet for a few days I quickly came up with an idea for a bag, then all I had to do was make the pattern and see what happened; like a voyage of discovery. Well it took a few turns here and there but I am so pleased with it, here's an inside view of the red linen material I used for the lining and the little ties and zipper pull.By the way if you click on the photos on this blog most of them come up much bigger so you can really scrutinise the interior of this bag. You can see I made one large horizontal pocket which I sewed down the middle to make 2 (this is the real side of the fabric) and in the background you see a cord with a swivel bolt snap on it for attaching keys or even a purse. Then on the front side you see a long vertical pocket which is useful for glasses or anything long like pens or pencils to take to embroidery class.

But the real beauty of this bag is that it expands...... yes if you undo the side ties and undo the zip all the way (it's open ended) then you have a much bigger space for all that junk you need to carry about. Hey presto, when finished, you do the ties up again and its back to the smaller size. Here's a photo of it fully expanded.I turned it round too so you can see the vertical pocket better. So now if you would like to make this bag yourself, please post a comment. I would be quite happy to make a 2nd one and take photos of each stage and post on this blog, but be warned I cannot be responsible if it does not work out for you, as I am pretty nifty with my hands and sewing machine.
So I can't help you basically and its only my pattern not a commercial one. Also, I used a ring binder folder (thick clear plastic type) for the base and 4 little side 'bones' to make it stand up so you need to be able to cut up plastic safely. I know I could have bought a bag bottom, but I wanted to see what could be done with what I had around.

Here's a side view

March Workshop
This is with Gill Reid and the subject is 'Head Cases' but I am assured that if we are fast we will make more than the head for the doll, so all being well she will come away with a body too.... Not like the photo....
Now you will need the following items to bring to the workshop if you are going to make the doll. Bye the way you need to book this workshop and as usual that means contacting Pat Knifton as she has a list.

½ metre closely woven cotton fabric (flesh colour or cream) - cotton percale sheets are ok
Strong thread to match
Pipe cleaners (optional)
Dress fabrics & trimmings
Yarn for hair
Sharp pencil
Colouring pencils - water colours - acrylic paints - oil pastels - gel pens - fabric paints
Long sewing needles
Paintbrush (very fine)
Cotton wool buds
Any embellishments you like e.g. feathers, beads, shells, silk flowers, foliage etc.
Lastly, a sewing machine will be useful but not vital.

Gill will bring along some cotton fabric and some stuffing if anyone cannot bring some.
If you do not have everything don't worry too much, someone will lend you theirs I expect as friends usually don't mind sharing.

Well that is that and now for something completely different......................................Yes its a sneaky peak at the Wall Hanging, with Lesley's lovely woodland scene at the top, next is Sally's Ruskin Lace and lastly the Fairtrade sign as Keswick is a Fairtrade Town. More photos like this next time.