Saturday, 13 September 2014

Essential sewing supplies for a trip!

I shall be away from my computer for a few weeks, but have scheduled a few posts for during my absence. I shall also try to post via mobile Blogger from my iPad, but I haven't tested that successfully yet. 
I know that I shall have infrequent access to the Internet, so I may not be able to respond to your comments very quickly.

Making the decision what was essential was difficult. More difficult was, "Have I got enough?" Hmm, I hope so!

Here is a list of the stuff I packed and will be using over the next few weeks.

1.  Tools

It's a good job I took photos; it was only after I took a photo of this that I realised I didn't have all the Aurifil 50 thread I would need.

Handy book! ...

... opened up with tools
2  Projects

a.  Tulips on the table

Tulips on the table
The background fabric has been made by stack and slash (a first for me) and the appliqué pieces have been prepared. Quilting will have to wait until I'm home.

b  Toadstool House

Toadstool House.
with fabric for the windows and skeins of  DMC embroidery cotton for embellishing. (Now I see I need to pack my embroidery hoop as well) This will get a border and be quilted when I return.

c.  Grandmother's Garden

The rest of the hexagons

Just in case that's not enough, I've got this too:

Sony Reader: with the hinge on the right
and the opening on the left!
Interestingly cross cultural!

and with about 20 books installed.

I should manage to be separated from my Bernies for a few weeks.

Happy Sewing


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Preparing fabric for a trip

I shall be away from my computer for a few weeks, but have scheduled a few posts for during my absence. I shall also try to post via mobile Blogger from my iPad, but I haven't tested that successfully yet. 
I know that I shall have infrequent access to the Internet, so
I may not be able to respond to your comments very quickly.

Now I'm packing and preparing for the trip.

Cutting 1" hexagons for Grandmother's Flower Garden
This is something I once vowed I would never do again - Grandmother's Flower Garden. People change so I decided to cut up scraps and have something to do in the evenings. I really don't know how much time I'll have to sew but in any case I'll be sitting around at the airport for at least four hours altogether.

I don't have photos for everything but this is what I've done so far:
  1. Printed and cut out approx 400 (!) 1" hexagon papers using the template at . I used 120gm per m² card;
  2. punched a hole in the centre of each paper for the pin. I tried pinning through fabric and paper together but the paper buckled and I found it difficult to fold the seam allowance over. So yesterday evening through a mammoth rerun of Rizolli & Isles, Castle, Body of Proof, and King I punched a hole in the centre of each of the 400 papers;
  3. cut fabric into 2¼" strips and then cut using the Marti Michell Template set G into 1" hexagons (as in the photo above). Some of the strips were so small I only got one or two hexagons out of them.
Most of this is going into my suitcase but the minimum of supplies are going in my hand luggage along with a couple of dozen hexagon papers and fabric.

hand luggage sewing supplies

I'll post about the rest of the sewing gear later

Happy Sewing


Saturday, 6 September 2014

RSC14: week 36: September is orange

Each month Angela at Soscrappy chooses a different colour for the Rainbow Challenge and this month she has chosen orange: the colour of falling leaves.

This is the first block, and not a maple leaf, as I thought at first, but:

Bear's Paw
 I've been catching up this week on greens:

Tick-a-tape and Coins

and on reds:

Wonky goose star and doughnut.

I'm linking to :

so pop over there to see more orange blocks made by other quilters.

Happy Sewing


Monday, 1 September 2014

Second cushion cover finished

Hello everyone! I'm back! Well, not really; I haven't been anywhere. Three weeks ago my computer crashed, and the photo processing software was the last to be installed. Fortunately I didn't lose any files, just the software.

Cushion number 2.
In the meantime I got a little sewing done (and a lot of thinking). The cushions for my living room are progressing slowly, as their purpose is to give me the opportunity to practise FMQ. The second one has straight line quilting on the diagonal with the walking foot across the centre section and FMQ pebbles in the border. The HSTs are made from the same fabric bundle as the first cushion. This was a mixed bundle of 2½" strips I won in a give-away. I can't tell you what the fabric is because none had enough selvedge to identify.

On the reverse of the cushion I really went to town, inspired by the work of Hilary Florence , especially her Learning Curves, and by Lori Kennedy. I first quilted double curved lines with the walking foot and then quilted in the resulting spaces.

a view of the back

The lines of quilting are patterns from Hilary Florence, but also from Quiltmaker's Year of Machine Quilting. The flowers are my attempt at Lori Kennedy's "Easiest Flower Ever"; if this is the easiest it'll be a while before I attempt the most difficult!

close up of quilting on back of cushion no. 2

the reverse of cushion no.1
The back of the first cushion I forgot to show before, but it isn't very exciting: just some stippling.

Both cushions were put together using the method described by Elizabeth Hartman in her "Mod Mosaic Floor Pillow" tutorial. There is no zip, but the two panels on the back are each two thirds of the length of the front, so overlap by one half of their own length. This is enough to make sufficient close, and while uses more fabric, also gives the opportunity for a lot of quilting. When I'd finished quilting I could decide which I wanted to be on top and hide the most mistakes inside the cushion!

Cushions 1 and 2 together

Cushion number 3 is in the wings, patiently waiting for me to decide how to quilt the border. On the one hand I would like to continue the chevron theme, but on the other I want to practise FMQ and my "straight lines" are hopeless! I keep staring at it and hoping for inspiration.

a peek at cushion no..3; quilting in progress

I'm linking up to:
stitch by stitch   Wednesday link up Sew Fresh Quilts blogbutton photo peacockfmq025_zpse5bceb10.jpg Fresh Sewing DaySmall Blog MeetNeedle and Thread Thursday

  Val's Quilting Studio

It's also my second finish for:
Finish Along 2014

Happy Sewing


Almost the last of the greens: RSC 14 week 35

Hello Everyone! I'm back! I hadn't fallen off the end of the world, but rather my computer had to have a new brain! It crashed three weeks ago, and after reinstalling MS Windows we finally managed to track down the latest version of my photo processing software just before the weekend.

I didn't get much sewing done at all in August, but here are the green blocks I managed to do.

clockwise from top left:
West-winds, Bouncing Betty, Dakota Farmer, mini Bow-ties

And as we're all being rainbow-minded with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge I thought I'd share this photo with you.
19 August 2014
Rainbow over Rijswijk. Where's the crock of gold?
I have never before seen a rainbow extending so far downwards. If my computer had been working I'd have sent this photo to the TV weather programme!

I'm linking up to:
Soscrppy stitch by stitch

Happy Sewing


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Green, but a red block repeated

Variegated Sedge in a pot on my balcony
For the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this month's colour is bright and light green. This is unfortunately all the green I can show this week!

Do you remember I showed a photo last week of the kaleidoscope block in red, that turned out the wrong size.
6.5" finished size
Well, this week I made another in the same colour scheme using the same pattern.

6" finished size
But this time it's the right size. I used the same paper-piecing pattern from Sew Mama Sew, but changed the size. I had printed the pattern again, but couldn't change the size on my printer. The photocopier at my work can change the size of documents, but the setting works on percentages. No advanced mathematics here, I'm afraid, as I just couldn't remember the formula for converting a vulgar fraction into a percentage. (Please feel free to tell me if you know; I knew it once too!)

Highly unscientific mathematics now:
What I did know was that:
6 1/2" is 1/13" larger that 6"
1/10  =  10%
1/20  =  5%
1/13  =  somewhere in between (highly scientific!!) but closer to 10% than 5%. Let's try 8%.

So I set the photocopier to -8%. Bingo! The sewing line on the outside of the newly printed block is exactly 6".
If you try doing this
BEWARE: the distance between the sewing line and the cutting line is NO LONGER 1/4 ". 
The difference is negligible but just to be safe I cut the pattern out using ruler and rotary cutter (old blade) and adding 1/4" outside the sewing line.

I'd like to thank those of you who commiserated, and offered suggestions for possible uses for the oversized block. I was toying with the idea of making my own design following the design-your-own-quilt tutorial by Sarah Schraw at Sew Mama Sew(again!) and this will be the basis of my first block. All orphan blocks now go into their own box to be incorporated into my design. I had too much going on when the Quilt Along started in April, but I've taken pencil to graph paper and have made a start. I shan't be relying on orphans, but will be making most of the blocks deliberately to fit into the design. The next large project has announced itself!

After all this powerful maths I didn't get round even to looking out green fabric, let alone making any blocks.

I'm linking up to:

Soscrppy  stitch by stitch

so head over there to see what else has been going on in quilting land.

Happy sewing


Monday, 4 August 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I wish we could just hop across the Atlantic as cheaply and easily as this! I was tagged for this hop by Judy at Quilt Paradigm , whom I met during the Triangle Quilt Along, and she's in  the USA, I believe in Arizona, and I'm in The Netherlands, Europe. I've managed to tag two others, for me much closer to home, but more about them later. First I have to answer some questions.

1. What am I working on?

At present I'm working on a few projects. I've finished three bed quilts and one throw this year:

two patterns from books,

Good Night

and two from QALs

Triangle Quilt 
Celtic Solstice
(Click on the captions for a link to the relevant posts.)

They were all destined as presents and I needed to concentrate on getting those done, before working on skill-improvement projects. So now I'm making cushion covers to try my own layout ideas and to practise FMQ on something small; I've had my fill of trying to manage 2kg of quilt going through the throat of my Bernina 440QE. (Bernina call it Quilters' Edition, but in my opinion that's something of a misnomer, the space is far too small.)

First cushion cover: finished 

The next two cushions in the making.

I'm also trying different piecing techniques. So far I've made this sample following a "workshop" in Jean Wells' book "Intuitive Colour .." but it needs to have a border and quilting before I start on the following "workshop".

I already have Ricky Tims' "Convergence Quilts" lined up for a future challenge.

My next start, however, will probably be something for Christmas. I have a charm pack of  "Midwinter Red" bought in a sale in January, and hope to start using it at the beginning of October.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

To start with, my patchwork and quilting doesn't fit into a genre yet because I only started two years ago this week! (I'm not counting my false start at patchwork when I was nine years old and vowed never again! or the quilt for my granddaughter's crib, that was started nine years ago and took 5 years to make!). I consider myself to be searching, finding my way, discovering new forms, and accepting new challenges. Just like I have rarely read the same novel more than once (exception: Pride and Prejudice: six times!) I doubt I will ever repeat a quilt. Life is too short.

8 August 2012 was a turning point in my sewing experience when I followed a workshop in my LQS, Quilters Palet, in The Hague, where I made this:

(or at least started it. I was painfully slow at cutting and had never heard of chain piecing.)
and another workshop, where I made this:

purple stars
and that winter followed the beginner's patchwork course (nine lessons) and made this:

Green Sampler

Also two quilting courses one for machine and one for hand quilting that same winter, which enabled me to quilt the green sampler in both techniques.

hand appliquéd EPP and, hand quilted
machine pieced,
machine quilted in the ditch
and hand quilted in the centre unit.
So far these seem to fall into a traditional style. Is this a 19th century genre? Please don't label me!
Perhaps it's because I'm a teacher that I'm nervous of autodidactic. I had to be taught the basic skills. I don't want to invent the wheel, but I do aim at modifying it!

A quilt to cover the long thin window in our front door was next on the list. I thought it should be double sided:

from the outside
so people waiting outside had something to look at. Unfortunately, although the rows on both sides are the same height (the geese are 3" high) they don't match perfectly so from the inside we have an unusual stained-glass effect!

Double Vision!
Friendship Stars on the inside and Flying Geese on the outside shining through
This was my first attempt at making something on my own: no teacher, no pattern other than the traditional blocks.

Since last August I have been on a two day fabric-dying retreat, but haven't used any of the fabric yet. I have done workshops in thumb-quilting and FMQ and I have challenged myself severely by taking part in Bonnie Hunter's Celtic solstice mystery quilt along (photo above). Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread! I underestimated the speed at which she expected people to work. I just about managed to keep up, but almost missed Christmas in my single-minded patchworking! (Good job I didn't need to work for nearly two weeks). It may seem odd, but in the last six months I've made so many HSTs that I'm almost perfect! A hurdle overcome: now just join them all up perfectly! Compare the points in the Green Sampler with those in the Jigsaw, or Triangle Quilt and I think there's hope for me yet!

I'm also participating in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela at SoScrappy. I was so hooked by the word "rainbow", that I overlooked the "scrappy", so jumped in with only a 2 litre box of scraps to my name. Ha ha; I've been buying "scraps" (alias fat quarters) all year! At one stage I thought of using my self-dyed fabric for this, but decided I wanted to save it for something over which I had more control.

RSC January to June line up

OK, maybe now I've moved forward into modern traditional? Traditional blocks, modern fabrics. But genre isn't important at the moment: for me it's all about challenging myself to try new things and to perfect my existing skills. Who knows what I'll be doing a year from now?

Back to the original question: how does my work differ from others in its genre? It doesn't, except it was made by me, and I'm not others!

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I write about my quilting experience to have a record of what I'm doing, but I've only been blogging since December last year. I started so I could join the link ups around the Celtic Solstice project and ask questions to other quilters. I unashamedly pick the brains of other blogging quilters, and will give my opinion, for what it's worth, when asked. Never (I hope) when not asked; I'm a teacher, remember, and we are a group prone to holding opinions!

Quilting is for me the last in a long line of handicrafts: knitting, embroidery, crochet, dressmaking, spinning, weaving, lace making (yes, really) in that order. Even though they're all different they're all textiles, and I've always wanted to create an eclectic project, combining several of the skills.

I learnt many years ago that all artists and crafts(wo)men have to learn their skills before they can branch out on their own and, in the case of artists, develop a genre. Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondriaan spring to mind. Until now I've been developing skills and pushing myself further: finding challenges, and I expect that to continue till I drop. I have been collecting patterns online from everywhere, but have the most quilting satisfaction in creating my own layout, like the window hanging or the cushions.

I don't consider myself an artist, but aim on being a good craftswoman in whatever field.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Both my writing and my patchwork and quilting processes are planned, with pauses for deliberation between times. Professionally I write concisely, and think sometimes my blog comes across as rather terse. I like to plan and to finish a project before starting the next, but sometimes fate conspires otherwise: someone really needs a quilt, or a workshop comes up which I really want to follow, both of which have resulted in current projects being put on the back burner.
Toadstool mini quilt,
workshop project.
Planned, but not by me.
After nearly a year: not a priority.
Is it a WIP or  is it a UFO?

However, looking back over the past few months I see a development away from the planned and into the experimental influenced by what I see online, especially Victoria Finlay-Wolfe's "playing", and LeeAnna's use of colour.
I'm moving away too from civil war reproduction fabrics and traditional layouts, and towards modern fabrics, again influenced by all the fabulously creative people out there  in the wide world of blogland.

I would like to introduce you

to two quilting bloggers who will be continuing the hop next week.
Firstly to Ruth of  Charly's and Ben's Crafty Corner who is an active member of the Irish Modern Quilt Guild, but not only creative with needle and thread, but also with lenses and shutter speeds, and probably much more besides.
Secondly to Gina, The Occasional Quilter, who lives in Wales and whom I met through the RSC. She is a real planner: she decided in January exactly how she would tackle the rainbow quilt and so far has stuck to her plan. I expect she will reach her goal by 1 January 2015, but I'll let her tell you about that and much more, next week.

I'm linking up to

stitch by stitch

   WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced    Sew Fresh Quilts

So head over there now to see what else is happening among quilters and other needle and thread addicts.

Happy Sewing