Saturday, 31 March 2007
The bad news is that at my sewing group today, my blessed dang Janome 6500 started making the banging noise again, after about one hour of free motion quilting. It was so loud that everyone in the room was looking at me and I had to stop for the day. **!x&!!&**&*. So it will have to go back to the service shop again (3rd time), and then there is Easter holiday, and I probably won't see the dang-blasted thing again for weeks. I guess I didn't need to worry that I wasn't going to get my hand applique blocks done.
Oh, and I swapped the Brown Bag challenge at the meeting, and I have a bag of satisfactory fabrics in autumn tones, and the lady wants a dresser runner. She's given the measurements and I am pleased, shouldn't be too hard (she said).
I have also organised a second challenge for a smaller group of four. We have all chosen a picture, drawn a line pattern to A3 size (that's about two Letter sheets of paper side by side), cut the pattern into four, and handed a strip of pattern plus a copy of the colour photo to each group member. The challenge is to 'paint with fabric' over the pattern piece to match the photograph. So I will do one slice of my own picture, and one of each of their pictures. And I will get a slice back from each of them, then I will sew the four slices back together and have an unusual fractured picture to which I can add borders etc. The photos are going to be really challenging - one lady has chosen a Monet painting, one lady has a holiday photo of a row of Belgian houses (we each do one house and mine is a cafe), and the third has chosen an oil painting of one of the early black visitors to the UK in the 16thC. My stash is really going to be challenged on this one!
Friday, 30 March 2007
Anyway, bowing to blog pressure, I have run around the house and taken a few digital photos so the anxiety will just stop. :)
This is one of our two cats, Colin, who has made himself a nice nest in my husband's Trip Round the World tv quilt. Black cats don't photograph very well, obviously, and I took about 8 photos of him while he regarded me resignedly, waiting for me to go away and leave him in peace.
Realising that I am about to run out of 'March', I have been hurrying up with the second March applique block from my self-imposed BOM in double-pinks and acid greens, using designs from 'Grandmother's Last Quilt'. Here is the start of it, the holly leafs will go all around the outside of the circle then there will be some berries as well.
Above is the finished 1/12th display cabinet, filled with my teapot collection and installed in my Canadian house living room. I had to evict the television and its table to make room for this, but the dolls were likely watching too much tv anyway. My husband noticed immediately that there is room for two more teapots at the bottom :)
Tomorrow, my Saturday Sewing Group will be exchanging fabric for a brown bag challenge to make household items. Above is the fabric that I will be passing anonymously to another group member, and I have asked for a tablerunner. I hope that the fabric I get in exchange isn't too ugly :)
And finally, I have made a start on my 2 Level Room box kit in 1/144th scale from sdk miniatures, which was announced on the MicroMinis Yahoo group and is the subject of a challenge. As you may be able to make out, I have stained various parts and also cut out an extra window in the back wall.
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
The stash is in two fitted closets at the end of the room, and then spilled over into a storage unit which is supposed to be discreetly covered with a curtain (pulled back for photo so you can see the storage bins) which of course now is covered with stuff. The sewing table has two folding flaps, and was purchased with the idea that I could fold down the flaps and stow it in the closet when I wasn't using it. Needless to say it has never been folded down in three years, and the gap in the closet where it was meant to go has now filled up with bags of stash.
This is the right hand closet - the cupboard is full of craft supplies like glue and paint, and the FQs are in the gap arranged by colour - wadding (batting) is on top of the cupboard.
The other cupboard has all the larger stash. It started out folded neatly on card supports on the side shelves, but has long since spilled over onto the floor. You can see my stencils and unquilted tops on the doors
I haven't done any sewing today, but I took a pic of the Tumbler quilt which is the sister quilt to the Dresden Plate that I am currently working on. It was cut out at the same time from the same fabrics. It's about 18 inches on the long side.
Now that it is spring here in the UK, I have cycled my wallhanging in the kitchen to display my Spring wallhanging. I made this last year from the Eleanor Burns book full of lovely flower appliques, and I chose three that grow in my garden, then I designed the primrose basket as I also have those. I have entered this in the Malvern quilt show this year so it will get an outing.
That's about it for tonight. The only other thing I was going to say was that I surfed around some of the other websites in the Stashbuster web ring this afternoon, and was very impressed. I am very new to this blogging business, but so many of the other sites look so polished. Will have to work on my presentation!
Tuesday, 27 March 2007
And finally, I did get a bit of sewing done. My Janome arrived back home from its second trip to the service centre today, so I set it up and sewed together a couple of the miniature Dresden Plates that I am working on. The machine seems to be working ok except for a brief heartstopping moment when it made the knocking sound again, but then it stopped. I am only sewing very short seams here (plates are c. 5 inches across) so I will have to see how the machine performs when I let her rip on something longer. I am contemplating this blue solid as a background fabric, it seems to show off the plates fabric fairly well. I might sash and cornerstone with some of the leftover darker Liberty Lawn fabric. I've got enough pre-cut plate pieces for 5 and a bit plates, which is a bit useless, so I think I will use four and make a mini wall hanging. I like wall hangings and have made quite a few of them, I like ringing the changes around the house and they are much easier to display than a big quilt.
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Thursday, 22 March 2007
The Spiderweb was fairly well made, all hand sewn, and remarkably the maker doesn't seem to have used any foundation or templates. The 3/4" wide finished strings are all sewn with tiny 1/8" seams (note to self: do not let dh sit on this one) and the whole thing lies pretty flat although slightly hourglass shaped. I don't know why it is unfinished, perhaps because not all the green background fabric is the same shade, or because the fabric scraps used do not all 'gel' very well (notice how the red block right of centre stands out). Last night and today I added on the two borders. The first border of red polka dots is a close copy of a fabric in the quilt already (a feedsack print that I found on the internet), and I cut it to be 3/4" finished so it matches the strings in the quilt. The second border of plain navy acts as a frame - I have left it at about 3 inches wide for now but will likely trim it down after the top is quilted.
I am currently (well, it is near the hoop anyway) hand-quilting a Crossed Canoes top which I bought at the MAQS fundraising auction which has its own unique 3-D ruffly thing going on - I am not so much handquilting as gathering the fullness in from around each block, lol. I am driven by a need both to rescue this malformed top into something usable, and a guilty feeling that I need to justify the money I spent on it by finishing it. At the same time I sort of wonder why I am doing it - it is impossible to quilt with small stitches because of all the thickness of the foundation behind the stringed canoes so my quilting looks awful. This is not a quilt that I will want anyone to see, ever, except possibly in a photograph from a distance. Yet I am still doing it (well, I haven't given up on it anyhow and I am sure I will get back to it eventually).
I was pleased recently to get my hands on a book called "Worth Doing Twice: Creating Quilts from Old Tops" thinking "I might learn something", but it turns out that what these two authors do is to actually dismember the old top completely, right down to its component patches. They then discard any that aren't up to scratch (replacing with vintage fabric), recut for accuracy, and completely reassemble. So what you get is the old top but made completely new and perfect. Well, I'm sorry, but I love my sad little orphans and I think all the flaws are what makes them so charming. Someone, somewhere, 'designed' that top with all its flaws, and maybe it was because they couldn't sew very well, or they were really old or young, or they couldn't afford good fabric, or they were just making do. I handquilted another joyful top of alternating 30s triangles where the joining stitches were so big you could put your finger through between them - I'm guessing maybe a child sewed it. But my handquilting is holding it together and I treat it carefully, so it's fine. And the Spiderweb quilt will be too once it gets quilted (but still not letting dh on it, lol).
I've been feeling really inspired about knitting lately because I've just finished reading a really cool book called "It's my party and I'll knit if I want to" by Sharon Aris. It is basically about the young knitting scene in Australia and has chapters like "knitting as the new feminism", sort of like chick lit for crafters. Abandoning my sewing machine, I went out to the shed where I keep a lot of my knitting stash and had a lovely rummage around in boxes, emerging eventually with some Phildar Aviso (cotton yarn). I think I've got enough for a tank top so then I spent another enjoyable hour surfing free knitting patterns on the web. About 2:30 pm I realised that I was running out of time for any sewing, so that was when I whipped upstairs to add the last borders to the Spiderweb.
And finally, I was rather startled to find that my new blog has attracted some comments. It feels kind of strange, like someone reading your diary, but in a good way because they are all appreciative (and many of them are from Swooze, who obviously has waaaayyyy too much time on her hands, lol). Thank you, kind visitors, and I wish you all the best in your own crafty endeavours.
I write in pencil in my book the date that I finish each square. I started this project in October 2006, and at first on the easier patterns was churning out 2 or 3 squares a week. However, I noticed last night that since xmas, I have only been producing one a month. At over 60 squares, I am on track to finish this afghan in FIVE YEARS. Need to knit more...
Tuesday, 20 March 2007
Sunday, 18 March 2007
When I decided to replace some of the border block backgrounds with a pink, I was pleased to find exactly the colour I had in mind in my stash. Of course there wasn't enough of it, but I thought 'no problem' and sat down on the computer to order more online. An hour later I had discovered nothing like what I wanted, and of course the fabric I had was several years old and no longer available. So back to the cutting board, where I managed to squeeze out all the 8 1/2 inch blocks except two, which are the middle blocks on the sides. I also left the corner blocks as beige background. Some of the pink blocks are in the best vintage tradition by having their backgrounds literally pieced together out of the odd shaped cutting scraps I was ending up with after cutting out most of the blocks. In fact I will confess to actually pulling small snippets of pink back out of the bin when I was getting really desperate on the last few blocks. Thanks to the print on the pink, and the vivid applique, the desperateness is hardly visible unless you look very closely. I am going to call it a design feature...
Saturday, 17 March 2007
Ever since we moved into our house three years ago, I have been planning to create a place to hang quilts in our stairwell. The house isn't that big and there are virtually no places to hang anything bigger than a wallhanging (a problem when I want to photograph a quilt as well). I knew how I was going to do it, and then finally last summer I bought the hardware for doing it from a yachting supply store. And today I got my dh to hold the ladder and we finally got around to putting the system up.
As you can see, there are two right-angle brackets screwed to the brickwork. From each one hangs a u-shaped clasp, from which hangs a pulley. On the left is a single pulley, and on the right is a double pulley. A lightweight nylon cord from the yachting store runs in a continuous loop starting from a snap on the bottom left (which snaps onto a screw-eye mounted on a wooden batten), runs up through the single pulley, along to the right into the double pulley, hangs down in a long loop to where there is a cleat screwed to the wall, continues back up into the other side of the double pulley, and down again to the right-hand screw-eye on the right side of the wooden batten. The batten is wrapped in muslin strip to protect the quilt, and is small enough to fit through a standard four-inch sleeve on the back of a quilt even with the screw-eyes mounted on it. The picture at left is of the right-hand double pulley.
I also finished off my handbag knitted from one-inch fabric strips. I've included a couple of dice in the picture for scale. The handle is surprisingly comfortable, although chunky in the hand. I think I am going to line it for peace of mind, otherwise I will be worried than pens and things are going to work their way out through the stitching. That means I will have to break out the Plan B sewing machine which isn't nearly as good as my lovely Janome, but hopefully up to sewing a lining together. I am a bit schizophrenic about this handbag - I am very pleased with how it turned out, and I love the colours, and I can easily imagine myself walking around the rarified atmosphere of a quilting show with it in my hand. When I try to picture myself out on the normal street, in view of normal people, then I don't feel so sure. Is it a fashion accessory? Or just an oddity? Will people admire it, or just feel sorry for me, lol.
Friday, 16 March 2007
The upshot is that it has to go BACK to the shop and get looked at again - they think maybe the courier dropped it or banged it and something has come out of alignment. I can't believe this, two more weeks of handwork. I am a machine girl all the way, this is so frustrating.
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
In the morning I thought I would spend a few minutes on my Baby House, a 144th scale dollshouse inside a 1/12th scale cabinet. 90 minutes later, it was looking pretty good, lol. I have been inspired by the Bespaq Baby House project that is a workshop offered in America, but I bought a cheaper cabinet at the local miniatures show for mine. I thought it would be a good way to use up all the over-size metal furniture I purchased before realising that it is too big for true 144 scale and for all the lovely 144th scale laser cut house kits. I had previously painted all the 'ceilings' white, and my friend Pauline got me off to a terrific start by suggesting that the lower drawers should be a pull-out garden. Not only was this a great idea, but she actually took them home and did the garden for me. She is a skilled embroideress, and the garden is created with needlework.
The next step was to wallpaper the walls (with internet downloads and printies) and carpet some of the floors (with scrapbook velvet paper). On the lowest floor I used a parquet floor printie and a linoleum printie which I had glued in last night. Today I glued in the last few carpets, and started the enormously enjoyable task of glueing in the furniture which I have been painting over the last few weeks. I also made a few 'plants' from green thread glued in beads, and a bedside lamp from a bead with a roll of printed paper glued together for the shade. A 'pot' for the stove was created with another bead and a wire handle glued on and painted black, a bowl of fruit was another bead with several tiny no-hole beads in red and orange glued in (these were in my goodie bag from the Micro Minis convention weekend). It's not finished yet, but is looking very cute. I need to get two more dining chairs before I can finish the dining room, and I want to create some framed pictures and a framed mirror. The music room could use another piece of furniture, perhaps an armchair. And I want to create a shelf of fabric to go next to the sewing machine. I've included a cotton reel to the left of the image for scale.
Later on, I took my March hand applique block out into the sun and did some stitching. I have set myself the goal of creating two of these large 17.5 inch blocks each month, to create a 25 block quilt. The patterns are mostly from the book 'Grandmother's Last Quilt' but I will also use some from 'The Rose Sampler' book later in the year. The Grandmother's book is challenging as they only include templates for the shapes of the motifs, and tell you to refer to the photo for the layout. Yet some of the blocks are quite geometrically complex so it can be a bit of a stretch trying to lay it out like the photo. Luckily this one is quite straightforward. I am doing needleturn applique, using the vinyl overlay method for positioning the motifs. I'm running a bit late this month because I only finished my second February block on 5th March, lol, due to spending a lot of February hand quilting a competition entry.
Eventually in the afternoon I did get back to the sewing machine and worked on the Flowering Vinees Applique. This is a design by Piece o' Cake, and I bought the kit at least six years ago. I have been trying really hard the past year to finish up some of my older UFOs - actually, the plan was to finish up all the UFOs but unfortunately I have been unable to resist acquiring several more projects this year - I think it is a sickness, lol. Or a weakness. I had made up all the blocks and completed all the applique but then my sewing machine had to go away for a service and didn't come back for about four weeks. That was awful, like having an arm cut off or something. The flowers and leaves I appliqued on with straight stitch on the machine, because I thought it suited the folksy nature of the design. The round centres of the flowers I actually fused on, using the windowed method of fusing (to leave the middles unfused and soft), because I didn't fancy my chances of achieving a round look with straight stitch applique. Today I was finishing zig-zagging with invisible nylon thread around the fused circles, to catch the edges down. Although I didn't work on it as long today as I meant to, I have now completed all the zig-zagging and have started to assemble the central panels. I think it is going to be a cute quilt, but only single size so I don't know if I am going to keep it because my bed is a Queen. The next big job, after assembling the central panels, is going to be taking off the paper from the back of the Chinese Coins strip pieced strips - the instructions recommended stitching them all to a long piece of paper cut to size, to minimise stretching.
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