I used to work for a number of different schools as what we call here the Clerk to the Governors. When I finished at my last job, days seemed incredibly dark for a variety of reasons I won’t go in to here but as a result my confidence was at an all time low.
Over the last few years I have tried to learn to cope better with John’s illness and the stresses and strains that life has thrown our way, not always successfully. I am learning to be kinder to myself and my quilting and handmade things have given me a new confidence. Going to craft fairs and talking to people about what I do has helped me to understand the value of my abilities in a kinds of different parts of my life.
This week has done that too: an unexpected opportunity from an unlikely (I thought) source has made me see that I do have value to others beyond my front door. I will try to remember this when stress rears its ugly head again.
I will continue to run Love Quilts and to make the things I love,; I haven’t stopped being a carer, the work I do can largely be done from home. I’m sure non of this will increase the frequency with which I update my blog!
Way back in May, at a craft fair, I attend most months, I was approached, thanks in no small part to a runty border collie puppy, by a lovely couple who spotted my Good Fortune bed runner.
They loved the warmth of the colours and the busy look of the juxtaposed strips but they wanted it bigger, with more piecing. Of course, I said I could do it, not knowing if I could even get the fabric. As it turned out, I couldn’t actually find the fabric I needed in the UK and found it on Etsy – as luck would have – the three jelly rolls that I had worked out that I needed to make the super king size quilt they wanted. We agreed on a 8ft x 10ft (96″ x 120″) quilt as they wanted not too much over hang but I wanted to give them enough for a pillow tuck. Anyway the rolls were ordered and I was able to use a local ebay based fabric shop for the border and backing fabrics.
It took a little while for the fabrics to make the journey over from the States and it arrived in mid June. To give me the size I wanted, I went with 5 strip blocks (not sure if this counts as Rail Fence, perhaps someone can let me know). I knew they wanted “the more pieces, the better” so was not worried about it being too busy for the, I was a bit concerned about the green fabric, not because it isn’t beautiful, but people react to green in very disporate ways, a bit like marmite. It’s my favourite colour but would it suit my couple?
Any way the strip set piecing began; I’ll accept a small slapped wrist for not trimming my selvedges before I started but I had a method and it worked for me.
So strips were sewn together and pressed so that
all most of the seams went in the same direction! Then pressed flat. Then the strips were cut into 4 10 1/2 inch blocks.
Sets were sewn and blocks were cut until I had 80 blocks and then the assembly began; strips of 8 blocks sewn together and then, the ten 8 block strips sewn together to make the main quilt top. It seemed enormous. It’s the biggest quilt I have made, the previous being a quilt for my king size bed (6’6″ square). But as I finished the main piecing the weather changed from sunny-but-cool to hot, hot, hot!
The weather helped me though: I was able to spread the quilt top out on our lawn to measure for the borders. It had a grey narrow border, a pieced, scrappy border and a wide grey border.
Luckily the weather lasted, I don’t think I could have easily made it last year with the continuous monsoons we had as I have nowhere in the house big enough to spread it out. Once the border were on I spread it out again to measure for the backing. Sadly I didn’t remember to take a picture of the backing which in the end I pieced with a rectangle of the grey, to break up the green, my nerves were still present, obviously. It looked lovely though.
Anyway the finished quilt top looked like this:
It was pinned flat but was a bit blowy and very, very hot.. Scrabbling round the garden pinning it to the turf was no mean feat, and the next day, making the quilt sandwich in the same way, my new neighbours must think I’m a bit bonkers. I pinned it securely in position and then basted it properly the next day.
I still hadn’t decided how to quilt it, I favoured an all over largish stipple to counteract the geometric lines but my clients were a bit dubious, or unsure. In the end I decided to use a geometric design, but chevrons at 2 inch spacing. I must admit to almost taking it all out at one stage because it was so hot, and the quilt was so big and heavy and I knew that the free motions stipple would have been quicker! I had hoped to have it finished in three to four weeks but I phoned my lovely customers and apologised for the slow progress but I was finding I could only quilt for about 15 minutes at a time. They were very understanding and as soon as the weather cooled a little I was able to complete it.
The scrappy border was added and then the quilt was washed, I speed hand sewed the border to the back as the forecast was promising rain and I wanted to dry it outside in the fresh air.
I am delighted with the finished quilt, in love with all Kate Spain’s designs, and am happy to report that my lovely clients have added this beautiful thing to the other lovely things they have in their beautiful home.
In the dim and distant past (or ancient history as my ten year old would have it) otherwise known as my childhood, I grew up in the large village of Mullion on the very specially gorgeous Lizard Peninsula. The specially gorgeousness of this place is a state secret so I may now have to kill you all but I digress…
… The cold mornings we have been having with the wonderful sunny weather have brought to mind an early morning jaunt we took to the nearest town. I think I must have been about five and we must have got up very early for we went into to town on the bus while the morning was still cold and dewy. The nearest town was a place called Helston and at the beginning of May every year it holds a festival called Flora Day (see picture above and google to see more images and videos). The people of the town dance through streets and houses and businesses in a series of different dances all day. They all sport a sprig of Lily of the Valley on the lapels or shirts and I was entranced by the magic of this and it is tangled in my mind with fairy tales and images from the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. When I was my little it was one of my greatest wishes to dance at Flora Day but as I was neither born there, nor went to school there, or married to anyone from there it is never likely to happen.
Whether it is Flora Day or not, Helston is a beautiful little town and is having a hard time at the moment, so I urge you to go there and spend some money in their independent shops – we are off down again at the end of May for a few days.
In other news, I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by a lovely Canadian blogger Life on a Dirt Road and I will be responding to her challenge in my next post.
While I’m in the mood to urge, the Painter is just about to have a new studio delivered, so (more) normal service should shortly be resumed.
This one is called We Dream of Cornwall and can be found with lots of friends in his online gallery, here
Another quilt is finished, pictures next time!
So after all the gardening of last week we have had a week of Siberian winds to keep us all safely tucked in doors. Over on the Quiltsy Team discussion thread there was some talk about the way we all work. I have to admit to being a bit of a flitter. Perhaps I have ADHD; I do and have always become easily distracted.
This week I have finished (well almost) a quilt that has been on the go since last summer (it’s the one above). It has changed quite a lot during that time. It was originally intended for my MIL who wanted something with mexican type colours so I found some hand dyed charm squares that fit the bill and thought they would work well with white. She wanted it as a wall hanging that could double as a bed quilt. Anyway when she saw the part pieced quilt she didn’t like it and now I have free reign to go and do something else for her. She’s a bit of a fuss pot so I’ll probably do my own thing instead of trying to work out what I think she’ll like.
Anyway, it is, like I said, almost finished. It is called Prairie Charm and has a red woven gingham backing with a printed white daisy on it and a chambray border. It’s quite simply quilted. I love the colours and would be inclined to keep it for myself but my quilts have to work for their living.
I also pieced a little blue and white one with charms called Spa by Deb Strain; it is the baby brother to the star bed runner. I’m waiting on a delivery to finish it. I was going to quilt it with celtic motifs but might change my mind about this, hoping to get it done tomorrow or Friday.
Anyway, being at a loose end I decided to start the special quilt for Arty Daughter and her beau. Not sure what I’m doing wrong but perhaps someone will pop along and let me know.
I am using layer cake squares to make 2.5″ strips to make 4 patch blocks and then cutting other layer cake squares into 4 5 inch squares to make HSTs with. My HSTs are bigger than my 4 patch blocks: is this right?
I sewed them together and got this:
Anyway, I’m off to post this on the Quiltsy Team blog in their Work In Progress Wednesday bit; it’s my first time – I hope it’s okay to ask stupid questions.
In the dim and distant days of my childhood, when readymeals were new-fangled Americanisms and you had to wait for the television to warm up before watching it, there was a song played by Terry Wogan with monotonous regularity that went something like this “Work your fingers to the bone, what do you get? Bony Fingers!”
I’ve woken up with this in my head this morning and I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I’m currently sewing a set of patio suite covers for a client which are going fine but I’m hating. It’s not really my bag.
I have a gorgeous bed runner I’m currently working on in Deb Strain’s Spa using a Missouri Star big star technique. My hands, my fingers, are itching to get back into it but I have to finish this set of covers by the weekend.
I also have 3 layer cakes in Harvest Moon sitting waiting to be turned into a “Hannah & Richard quilt” – this is to go with “Hannah’s quilt” that she already has but is for a single bed. Hannah is moving to Bristol tomorrow and I hope that they will both be very, very happy. He is a lovely man and makes her happy.
You would think that I would just get on with the blasted set of covers but it’s a bit like going back to the woven mat I had to do in needlework at school. I wasn’t allowed to move on to the next thing until I had finished it but I hated it – it took me 9 months to finish in the end, it was a double sided six inch circular mat of woven wool and it took me a whole school year to finish. I really can go slow with things when I don’t like them. Bleugh.
We have a wonderful history of traditional quilting in the United Kingdom wonderful Welsh quilts, wholecloth quilts and paper pieced quilts. Great information about these local traditions is held by the Guild of Quilters of the British Isles. When I have some spare money, I will be joining.
If, like me, the idea of of all those little bits of paper and fabric and those hand turned seams is a bit intimidating you might take a look at American style quilting instead.
I must admit to trying to do the little hexagons when I was a child, and it may be that I do have a lot more patience at this ripe old age but somehow I doubt it.
I started using precuts (mostly by Moda as these are the most affordable here) as I was not confident with scissors and cutting out, the fact that all that was done for me was a real boon.
The Moda Bakeshop gives some great inspiration and projects are graded on difficulty and I have been very inspired by the tutorials I have watched by the Missouri Star Quilt Company and their video tutorials. Jenny Doan has a wonderful way of making it seem simple and achievable. It’s a great starting point.
I have made things I would never have imagined I could achieve and Free Motion Quilting has become something of a favourite after intially terrifying me.
I now belong to a wonderful group of quilters on Etsy, mostly from North America, all different and inspirational. Please visit the team shop, not necessarily to buy but to be inspired by their talent and creativity
Well after almost a year, here I am again.
The move and its on and offness got a bit much and I decided to stay quietish for a bit. We are now quite settled, John’s gone to look at studio space this morning and I’m working on a commission for a customer.
He’s recently been accepted as an exhibiting artist at Flameworks, so barring any neurological surprise we are now making progress.
I have been busy while I’ve been quiet and below is a selection of the lovely things I’ve managed to create:
Lots of things of wended their way off around the globe, including an enormous crochet blanket. All my stuff is available for sale over in my Etsy shop. So if you know me, stop by and say hello.
As you know, to say that I have become quilt obsessed is something of an understatement. This has now extended to making treasuries on Etsy too – although those pictures look kind of quilty too. The commission for the table runner and placemats is underway for a Mrs B of Tavistock and I attended a much better Craft Fayre on Saturday organised by Year 6 of a primary school; they had even arranged the Military Wives Choir who sang right in front of my stand and were wonderful. My latest treasury is called “Paint the Whole World with a Rainbow” some of you may remember this phrase, fondly or otherwise! There’s nothing of mine in there just beautiful quilted items from my fellow Quiltsy team members.
This last week I have been making a Noddy quilt from panel I found on Ebay and have upcycled – it was sold as new but I think has been cut down from a duvet cover? Anyway, I’m delighted with the finished item which is here:
The quilting on the back looks lovely too. The dotty blue fabric is from the Maisy Mouse range by Andover fabrics – I think this is now discontinued but in the depths of deepest Devon, Ashburton to be precise, can still be found. There are more pictures here, in my Etsy shop.
In other work the tea cozy at the top is made of Domestic Bliss by Moda charm squares. I used six for each side, pieced them by machine and then wadded and backed them with a pink gingham check. I used a tea plate to round off the corners and then quilted both sides in a simple diamond design. I bound the bottom edges of the front and the back before constructing the cosy and then pinned the two pieces together and machine sewed the binding to the top seam. This was then hand finished on the reverse.
If you would like full instructions – leave me a comment and I will see what I can do – it’s simple and fun to make and sits nicely on my 2 pint pot. I’m over to have a gander at the clever new things over at Handmade Monday. You should go too.
I won’t be around for long today as I finally have to get to grips with the house of doom and all that that entails. It has taken a very back burner because I have been so busy getting things finished for a number of Craft Fairs that have been a complete waste of space. Organisers quite happy to take your £25 table fee for very minimal promotion. I’m sorry but a banner or an announcement in the What’s On section is just not good enough. I won’t name and shame the organisations involved but there were approximately 30 traders at the show yesterday, some with more than one table and very few of us sold anything at all. I sold a House Mouse card for £1.50. I may have a commission for a table runner but that’s not confirmed yet.
My fellow traders said, well it is for a charity, and I was happy to pay the inflated fee because of that. But even charities should work for that fee. I would be interested to hear what others have experienced. Variously I have encountered venues without lighting and heating, where I had to assist getting tables out, dirty toilets and no promotion. Organisations seem to be of the view that there only responsibility is to provide the venue. We operate on our own insurance and I generally do some promotion of events myself, probably much to the ennui of my Facebook friends and tweeps. One venue even sold itself as having multiple coach loads turning up to every event; at the first one I attended four people turned up and they refunded our money and agreed to move it to a Saturday which they duly did. However their one banner by way of publicity still had the Thursday on it The lack of promotion and the tiny footfall meant that after three goes I have kicked it into touch.
Perhaps I should start organising them myself. Again, anyone with any experience of this please comment or message me.
Anyway, the things that I have been working on recently are the lovely set of four coaster with bees called “Wonder where the Boidies is” it being Spring and in memory of my dad who said without fail every Spring, “Spring is sprung, the sap is ris, I wonder where the boidies is”.
I have also been making some place mats which I have called “Mystery Tour“. I’m not sure if the Beatles did travel in a campervan on
the Magical Mystery Tour but they should have done; they did, however come to Plymouth during its production.
And obviously, I have finished another quilt. This time from a pre-printed quilt panel. I quite enjoyed it but think on balance I prefer the piecing. I have a number of projects on the go and will get back to them next week – we have some things to sort out, apart from the house of doom (the garden of despair chief amongst them).
“Catch a falling star” isn’t on Etsy yet as I want to take some better photos and it’s too big to stick on a bit of fabric and crop out the doominess.
Lastly but not least please, please, please go over to Handmade Monday and enjoy the talent that is there.
I think I may have given the impression over the last couple of posts that I am a bit down. I hope this blog doesn’t come across as wallowing or depressing as most of the time that’s not the way I feel at all, occasionally, a bit of a wallow is quite therapeutic and allows one, well, me anyway, to spring back with vim and vigour. The vim and vigour might be a bit more evident if we had had the much mooted T-shirt day yesterday. It was dull, dreich and miserable. I put my newest quilt on the line for four hours and it made absolutely no difference to it. It just sat there, waving its funkiness in the grey air.
I brought it in 4 hours later weighing approximately 0.0025 grammes less than when I put it out. There was, as they used to say in a part of the world where I once lived – frequently in Post Office queues, “no drying”.
But it is now finished, dry and folded and in a little while when the light gets better I will attempt to photograph. I am really delighted with this one. If you thought I was chintzy and traditional at heart well, you were wrong. The fact is I love it all.
I have used the Kate Spain Terrain patterns (a jelly roll) and some additional yardage (a yard and a half) of a matching print. The quilt it has yielded is bigger than my recent ones being about 40″ x 60″ about the right size for a first bed, a coverlet for a single or a throw for the back of a sofa. The way she has used the colours which are strongly contrasting make me want to sing – they really are joyful. It is, as you can see very simply pieced and echo-quilted to emphasise the strips of colour. This looks particularly effective on the back of the quilt. The thing I am most pleased about is the binding. I have made a binding strip from some of the left-over strip and well, it just works really well and I’m delighted.
Today I will be mostly playing with my (sshh!!!) new sewing machine. It has a larger harp area for rolling my quilts, droppable feed dogs and 84 different stitches. It also hums pleasantly, in a reassuring, germanic way and just feels more “the ticket” for a more industrial set up. It was not what I thought when I bought Hannah a sewing machine for her Christmas present last September (which she never got, see here).
Now, all that said, I’m off, back to my hollow and there I will wallow … in glorious mud. It must be a legacy of Junior Choice but I cannot hear the word wallow without that song coming to mind.
Off to hum Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud in a reassuring, germanic way for the rest of the day.