Monday, July 31, 2006

Quilt Labels

Some one on one of the mail lists I am on was asking about quilt labels, what they look like, what information you put on them. None of these have a great amount of information on them, but I hope it would be enough for them to find their way home even if we moved, as the URL gives a way to contact me. For quilts that I give as presents I always put on who I made it for, when and sometimes why. If the quilt has a story that goes on the label too. I like the label to tie in with the quilt as well. It doesn't show well in the photo but the Ginko's label is black (ish) so it doesn't glare on the black background. For 'See Sound' my PCB quilt the label is green with brown writing. I also like to have a design element from the front on the back, Bicameral's label has the same border as the front, and 'Delta Blues' main design element is a treble clef.

As you can guess from the picture, Gems 2 doesn't have it's label yet, but after a lot of handsewing we have everything else done on the 'Pair of Gems'. I will put the label on tomorrow then over to sir for the final trim and de -lint. Which means I now only have one quilt outstanding for the NEC. 'See Sound' is giving me a few issues. Tomorrow I am on a mission to find a cheap microphone, ideally with a built in pre-amp. This should improve the sensitivity enough that I can hide the mic inside the fabric replica and people can walk up to the quilt and talk to it or clap to make it light up. Hopefully I can find a cheap toy with this in and cannibalize that for my quilt, failing that I will have to look at building them from scratch. At least I can go to Toys-R-Us and claim I am working :)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tread Lightly - label

Blogger only allows five pictures per post so I thought it made most sense to put this one separately. As you can probably tell the label is on Antarctica. It's a shame that no one is likely to see it because I think having all the different animal prints come together looks really cool.

Tread Lightly - completed

Well that's it. The globe is finished. I had to let out some of the air to be able to finish sewing it closed, but it is a bit cooler today so hopefully it won't go down too much if it is cooler in the exhibition. The valve is hidden under the ice cap. It is really tricky finding a good sewing position on a globe this side. Even harder than finding a thin thread that is strong enough to hold the pieces together once the ball is inflated. It was worth it though. I am really pleased with it and next time I am on Watford I will be looking for more of these cheap exercise balls to use as armatures. I want to do Jupiter, Mars, our Moon and an old style globe. Of course I also need to think about storage and display, but I will worry about that after I have made some more :) No point worrying yet. If the worse comes to the worse I can keep one in the house and the rest in storage.

If you look closely you can just see the world plinth. It's not a bad fit at all and really does look OK. It does need polishing before I pack it. I also have to find a way to fix it's show tag to it. I can't pin it on because of the risk of puncture, but I don't really want to sew it either. The only double sided tape I would trust to stay on won't come off afterwards either. I might just have to sew it unless someone out there has a good idea? The show tag is a square of paper about 3" square.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Here is the picture of the binding on Gems 1. It took longer than we expected but I think it worked really well. The fine white piping really makes the colours leap out. Still that is the quilt done. It just needs the label and sleeve doing, which is hand sewing we can do during the game on Sunday. So I won't worry about that until then. It would be nice to get Gems 2 to the same state by then as we could probably finish all the hand sewing on both of them. I don't know if it is possible, but it is a goal to work to.

These tulips are based on a Ricky Tims technique. They are from his caveman quilting DVD. I love this technique and have made several projects using it.

What really pleased me about this was the quilting. It was the first time I tried this pattern but I think it does exactly what I was looking for. I wanted the colour from the background of the flowers to spread out into the borders and be a bit softer. I feel that I have achieved that. The border itself is quilted in black which also just flows in to the other colours. It is a shame that the pictures don't capture how well the dancing cubes leap out of the border. You will just have to take my word for it. I had been going to enter this quilt in the Edinburgh show, but as I am not doing those shows anymore it hasn't been finished. I do love it so as soon as I have some time it will be finished. It will stay with a wavy edge, and I think I will try and figure out a way to put a piped binding on it.

Hint 2, when making a quilt with a lot of bulky 'embellishment' it is a lot easier to trim the base before stitching everything on to it :) Guess who just trimmed up the back of the PCB. It was an interesting experience but it would have been easier if I had done it sooner.

PS. Why are all your errors twice as big and twice as obvious just after you post them on a web site?

Tip of the day

I looked at one of my quilts today and it was beyond linty. It looks like someone has been using it as a duster :( It isn't dirty just covered in lint and hairs and threads. I could have gone at it with a lint roller, but with that amount on it it would have taken ages. Ages I don't have right now. Then I remembered, the bedding I washed earlier in the week and hung outside to dry looked as covered in cat hairs after washing as before, and usually it looks completely spotless. Hmm what did I do differently. Normally I tumble dry bedding. Therefore the tumble drier removes fuzz. Twenty minutes on cold in the tumble dryer and I would say most of the mess is off. I am giving it another twenty to finish off, but I am impressed. So if you need to clean hairs and lint of a quilt without having to use a lint roller you might want to give it a try. I wouldn't try it with wool waddings though.

Another day another milestone.

This is the front of 'See Sound' this is all the quilted detail done now. I have decided to leave off a few of the markings. I don't think the mounting holes add anything to it as a quilt and there is no point stitching the markings completely covered by components.

Why is it that whenever you do something new you work out the easy way to do it just as you finish? In this case I had been finding it really hard to do the numbers and letters, then on the 11th before finishing I figured out how to do it. The last few were so much easier and I think they look far better than the earlier ones. At least I know it isn't just me I've had several others tell me about similar experiences. On the bright side if I ever decide to do something like this again I will know at least one trick to make it easier. Hopefully when the quilt dries out the chalk marks will have gone. If not I suppose I can try washing it a bit more thoroughly tomorrow. It was good getting this stage finished today, it means I am still on track to getting everything finished in time. Gems 1 is now totally quilted and just waiting for the binding, shame I will have to force myself to rewatch the Ricky Tims DVD to remind me how it works. What a hardship :) If you haven't seen him either on DVD or in real life you really should he is a hoot.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I've reached another little milestone. I've done all the stabilizing on Gems 2. In this heat even these little things seem a big deal. The Discovery has been behaving itself really well, and after man handling Gems 1 under his domestic machine Robin is now practicing on it. Hopefully he will be able to use it for his other entry. I did mean to take a picture of the quilt on the frame with the UV light on showing the powder, but I got over excited when I finished the sewing. I have discovered that the powder gets every where. I too me ages to get most of it off the machine. I really don't want any of it left behind as it will probably work quite well as a grinding paste. It certainly built up in the bobbin, but that might has been weather related. I think the rosin is more likely to clump when it is hot, and of course the bobbin area probably gets warm as well. Still it did the job a lot quicker than using a washout marker, and no washing the quilt before the show.

I've managed to get a stand for my globe. It is a world plinth, not in anyway a dog bowl. Definitely not, I just happened to buy it in a pet shop. I thought I should supply something as the show organizers aren't likely to have a stand for a globe. I had been thinking of buying rubber rings and covering them but I haven't been able to find any. I think the bowl will be more stable anyway as it is designed not to be tipped by hungry dogs. I suppose I need to label it don't I.

I saw the most amazing sky tonight when we went out to buy food. I wish I had taken a camera with me. The sky was mostly a grey blue, but over where the sun was setting it was a fantastic pink. The most wonderful part was where the clouds were just outlined in the pink. It was so striking. I think I will have to try and make a quilt from it but I don;t think anyone will believe that the sky was really that colour. I am starting to think that I will have to carry a camera everywhere I keep finding inspiration in odd places and the camera on my phone isn't quite enough. Last night at the hospital there some good architecture and an a fantastic clock. In the dark the pictures on my phone didn't come out. Do you suppose I will get even more odd looks wandering around the supermarket with a huge camera case?

Interesting times

Well it has been an interesting day, and I am very thankful that I have only been helping to deal with it rather than involved. A friend has been knocked off their motorcycle, so we were asked to recover it for them. That isn't a good day for anyone, but this person has just moved house and was supposed to be going on holiday this week. The timing really sucks. Still they seem essentially Ok, the bike will live and hopefully the other parties insurance will pay for the holiday.

Before my day became interesting I did manage to get Gems 2 onto the frame. I was planning on taking some pictures but I think that will have to wait for the morning now. The real morning after some sleep. I've managed to do the do the first 3 of 16 rows, so I should be able to finish it tomorrow. The areas am working on in this quilt are all white so I have tried a new to me marking method. Rather than something I need to wash out I am using a powder that glows under UV light. My first discovery is that I need to get a blue black light bulb. This type gives out less visible light. Given that I don't find UV especially black at the best of times I need to reduce the light as much as possible. Secondly I a very sensitive to the powder. Having looked at what is in it that doesn't surprise me either. However I can't recommend having to wear latex gloves in this heat. They get pretty disgusting pretty quickly. Still it is doing the job and is a lot quicker then an erasable pen.

Once I get this batch of quilts out of the way I want to spend some time playing with the longarm and making up some samples. I've learned a lot of different freehand designs and I would like to be able to show people what I can do.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Getting there slowly

We are making slow but fairly steady progress on our quilts for the NEC. Gems 1 is two thirds of the way to being quilted and Gems 2 is two thirds of the way to being pieced. It's not where we wanted to be but it will still be done in time.

I've done some playing with the the wiring for 'See Sound'. I am fairly happy with it. With only 4 LEDs to a transistor it seems to be reasonably bright, but now I have a new problem. I think the microphone needs to be more sensitive. Clapping, and some words will set it off but clicking your fingers at it won't. I am not great at electronics, but given that there is a variable resistor that adjusts the sensitivity of the microphone, could I just replace it with a lower resistance. I might just try removing it and see if that helps. I suspect it won't I think it is already turned down to almost zero. After that I either need a better microphone or more amplification. The latter is definitely beyond my scope.

I've been complaining about our unseasonable weather for a while now. What I hadn't realized until yesterday is how bad it is everywhere else. Which has lead to discussions of global warming, and the idea of a reversible quilt based on that concept. I've had a few thoughts along that line before but the idea of a double sided quilt really appeals. Of course to do it the way it looks in my head it would need to be a mirror image on the back and perfectly aligned, so the 2 images could be quilted together and the quilting make sense on both sides. It is very tempting but I think I will have to kick it around my head for a while. It would have lots of interesting technical challenges. Oh and thinking of climate change, by observation, the size of the world is changing noticeably when temperature fluctuates more than 5 degrees C. Well my little world anyway. So I will wait for the next drop and inflate it as much as I can. Even with my best effort it isn't that hard so should be fine if the temperature rises again.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What a mess!

This is desk right now. Yes I am typing on that keyboard over all the mess. The mess is the wiring for 'See Sound' . It is at least working, but the lights are dimmer than I would like. I might have to ask an expert. Fortunately I have one of those coming over tonight. It's funny how much I have had to add just to scale up the PCB. Most of the wire is involved in running extra LEDs. Also trying to make the microphone work when it is inside a quilt is proving interesting. I think if I can hold it right up against the top of the fabric microphone I should be OK.

I have also been reminded that I do not use the cheap electric soldering iron. I really don't get on with it. That would be why I bought a gas one, which I love. I wish I had remembered before I burnt my finger in exactly the same way as the last 3 times I used the electric iron. Ho hum, maybe next time I will remember.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

At last

It looks like it wasn't blogger with the problem, it was my picture. Apparently that memory card is really broken the images I got from it won't upload, but any from anywhere else will. So here we have my little helper sleeping in the block trimmings yesterday. He did wake up just as I started trimming the next set, having slept through me moving the machine he is lying against and sewing the next set.

Here is a picture of the back of the PCB as well. As I said it has all but one piece of solder on it. I still need to make the last one. I am quite pleased with it. It is mostly flat and really does look the part. I do wonder how many of the quilters will know what it is. So far all the ones I have spoken to, or shown it so haven't got a clue. On the bright side you tend to get a lot more men at the NEC and I think some of them might know what they are looking at. I suspect some will then have to study it and see if all the details are correct :) Hope I manage to do it justice.

Too Hot

I am just not built for this weather. I can't think above 28 degrees. I have to try any persuade the other half that we need to move to the Arctic Circle. Cold I can cope with just fine. Apparently all the computers are having a bad time too. I still can't upload the picture. So I suggest we all go for a nice cold drink and leave creativity until tomorrow. On the bright side I did manage to get 3/4 of the blocks sewn and trimmed for gems 2.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Hmmm can't live with them, can't live without them. I've been trying to write this for nearly 24hrs now, but everything that can go wrong has. The computer I use to read the memory card from my camera decided yesterday that I had a 2 terabyte card. I wish. Sadly this was too big for the computer to read. So no pictures. I though I would wait until my pet geek got home and might be able to persuade the machine to behave. Indeed he did persuade it to give back a couple of pictures. Including the one I wanted here.

It was late so I waited till this morning to try posting. Today blogger doesn't want to play. It won't upload my picture :( Apparently an engineer has been notified. I guess the computers just don't want you to see the back of the PCB, which now has almost all of it's solder on I just have one large blob to go. I'm quite pleased with it. It is currently pinned down trying to become flat and square again. To top it all my ISP has 'issues' so I have no email. Of course there are several emails I am actually waiting for, and if previous 'issues' are anything to go by I won't be getting them.

I also managed to get a quarter of the blocks done for gems 2 yesterday. Impressive when the studio is over 30 degrees and I have to iron things. Hopefully I can get the rest ready today and then Robin can get the quilt top assembled ready for me to start the quilting. Gems 1 is looking good the quilting is nearly finished, then we just need to think about the trimming and binding. I am thinking a Ricky Timms piped binding might be a good idea at this stage. I don't know about Robin but I don't fancy sitting for a day covered in a quilt to hand sew the binding so a machine finish would be great. I suppose we need to think about labels as well.

Why is it the more work you do on a project the more things you think of that you need to do for it?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Union Jack

Here is another of the quilts going to the Festival of Quilts. I made it a while ago as I intended to enter it into a different show, but I wasn't happy with it. I still don't think it is one of my best executed pieces but I like the design and concept. It is only going into the show because friends feel it needs to be seen. I think they have a point, there will be a lot of the same old at the show (some of which will be stunning I am sure) and it is good to offer lots of alternative pieces. So keep an eye open for it if you are going.

This quilt came about from the idea of punk quilts. Where does quilting meet punk? The flag seemed ideal, as it reminds me of a traditional quilt block, and is an important part of punk fashion. The flags are all quilted with song lyrics. The 'normal' flag has the national anthem on it. The others have punk songs. The black and white flag is made with zips as the diagonal black bars, and leather on the vertical and horizontal bars. Oh and of course it isn't really a Union Jack but if anyone does want to buy it and hang it on a boat it could live up to it's name.

Also if there are other bloggers going would you be interested in meeting up. I will be there for the whole event but I am going to some workshops. It would be good to really meet some of the people I have met online.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sewing the world

This is blogging for health reasons. Have you ever blown up too many balloons and given yourself a headache well I've managed it blowing up this exercise ball for the second time this evening. The funny thing is, I was using a pump. Still it was worth it. First fitting the quilt was a bit loose on the ball, now it is really snug. I am especially pleased with Australia so that is what I have put in the picture. I still have to hand sew the poles closed but I think I need a break. It is hot here and getting hotter. I'm sorry but by 10pm I think the temperature should be dropping.

If you look in the background of the photograph you can see the globe that was the model for this quilt. All in all I am very pleased to have made a spherical quilt. I think I need to make more of them, and the more I think about the other planets, and moons, the better the idea seems. Now to cool down before I get to the hand sewing.

Hmmm, this spell checker has just suggested I didn't mean blogging, apparently I should have typed flogging, the mind boggles.

I really wish you guys could feel this quilt, it weird. It is a quilt, but it is a beach ball, but.... weird I tell you. I like it but I can't get my head around it. I've done most of the hand sewing on the top of the world. Antarctica can wait until I have the label ready as that is where I will put it. I figure it is as close to a back as I can get on this quilt. I'm not sure if I should completely seal the top yet either. This is one of the hottest days we are likely to have this year, so when it cools down again my globe will shrink a bit. I think I should keep the option of adding more air as late as I can. I really should do the maths and work out how much difference a few degrees will make, honestly, I can't be bothered. It is too hot for serious brain work. The temperature has now dropped one degree, it's 1am.

"You've stomped Hawaii"

I didn't do it on purpose, it's just in the wrong place. As you can see I have spent the day quilting the world. It was very odd listening to the news and having the places they were talking about just under my hands. Very spooky.

I had planned to make the footprints trapunto, but I needed to quilt the small islands into place. The islands are all in the wrong places :) so instead I used a very small stipple to mark the footprints. I wasn't sure they would leap out enough, but I didn't need to worry.

The background design is inspired by the oriental cloud and water patterns, hopefully it will convey both to different people.

I've marked up the panels, so tomorrow I get to try and turn this large flat quilt into a sphere. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is that an island?

Asked Robin as I pick a tiny oddly shaped piece of animal print from his quilt. Long pause, "no I don't think so". I think it was just an offcut, but if anyone spots something missing I will blame his quilt for stealing my islands. I've been wondering how small most quilter go with fusible applique. I drew the line at islands less than 2mm square. It was when the tweezer tips were too big to handle the fabric and I started wondering if you could get smaller ones, that I thought things might be getting a but silly.

here are a couple of slightly out of focus pictures of the world. Hopefully the countries can still be identified, but the animal print does stand out well. Doing something like this really brings home the relative sizes of different countries, and how remote some islands are. If it wasn't so tricky and frustrating cutting some of the coastlines I would say this would make a great educational project for children. I feel a lot more in touch with the geography of my home planet now. Of course being an astrophysicist I am now thinking about doing the other planets :)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Can I just slip Spain in?

Two quilters one ironing board, there is bound to be congestion. I love the fact that quilting lets you ask some really odd questions. I can however state that not only is Spain in, but so is the rest of Europe. While I was making the master pattern this morning the quilt changed it's mind. It didn't want to be made of shards of brown fabrics. It wanted to be large areas of the animal prints I had collected for 'Wild Africa'. 'Wild Africa' won't be made for a while as it is one of the quilts I withdrew from Harrogate, so this seems like as good a use as any for the fabrics. I like the way the countries are disappearing from the map, it now just shows land mass and I hope it will make people think of all the endangered animals of the world. I am hoping to finish the top tomorrow, and will post a picture then.

These stripy sausages are actually the resistors for 'See Sound', to the right you can see the real thing. Yes all the bands reflect the real values of the resistors. I know how much little details being wrong bugs me, so I am trying to make this copy as accurate as possible. These have caused me a lot of trouble, well only the legs. I spent 3 hours yesterday trying different ways of doing them. I hadn't realized how much extra friction there is on this shiny fabric when you try to turn narrow tubes. They were made rather larger than I would have liked so they could be turned and then filled with trapunto wool. I am sure I have trapunto wool in the house somewhere but do you think I could find it when I needed it. Of course this would happen on a day when I didn't have a car too. A few frantic calls later and my LQS promised to get them in the post to me ASAP. Fortunately Robin managed to fit in a drive by wool collection. Without their help I'd still be waiting to make these. Thanks guys.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Measure everything!

Never ever believe what is written on packaging. I should know better, but when I bought an exercise ball that said it was 66cm diameter, I though it might be that size. I've spent most of the morning trying to scale up the map of the world to fit this ball. First attempt was too small. It would be I made it 70cm forgetting that I wasn't going around the diameter but half the circumference. So I tried again, having calculated the circumference. Now it is way too big. Huh?!

At this point I thought of just measuring it. Now of course anyone who wasn't so keen on maths would have done this first and got it right. The half a circumference is exactly 30", not a nice metric number. By my calculation that would give a diameter of 19" which is about 50cm. Nowhere near what the box claimed. Grrr. It doesn't really matter I suppose to most people using it for exercise, but if you are going to put a measurement on a box it really should be right.

As it happens this is going to make my life a lot easier as it will fit on the fabric much better. I'll try printing the map the right size now.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sneaky Peak

I'm still behind on where I should be in preparing quilts for the Festival of Quilts, but here is one that has just got a step closer. I have done a little quilting on it just to stabilize it before Robin takes over and does the rest of the quilting. According to my diary this should have been done yesterday, but it's not too far off. This is half of the 'Pair of Gems' entry. Yes you can still see chalk in the designs, I am hoping most of it will vanish while it is being quilted.

Next on my list of things to do is make components for the PCB. I also still need to find something to make 5 small LED's look like one big one. Hmmmm.

Show Update

This morning in the post I got a card. Apparently someone had sent me a letter without enough postage so I would have to go and collect it and pay 1.05GBP to get it. Odd I think I wasn't expecting anything, but off I go. Guess who. The show organizers.

When I asked them to "destroy the entry forms for Harrogate and refund any money" guess what I was hoping they might do. Nope they tried to send them back in the envelope they had for may judging sheets. The entry form all have photographs attached so are quite heavy and I had only supplied postage for the judging sheets :( Still on the bright side they have returned my entry fees, which came to nearly 70quid so I am glad to have it back. I guess this means they have my letter and have read it. There is no reply included.

The judging sheets show that 'Loki' was a flop but there are no comments so I can't really tell why. Interestingly one judge gave 8/10 for technique while the other gave 4/10. So either I did it pretty well or pretty poorly. Who knows. I do find it interesting how people given the same judging instructions come up with wildly different marks. I assume there are guidelines for how you asses each aspect of the quilt so surely the results should be similar? According to these judges, 'Loki' is the worst quilt I have ever put into a show, based on the marks.

'Miss Baltimore' however did fare better and I even have comments :) I love comments on my judging sheets positive or negative. The whole point is they tell me what I could do more of or change. This one among other things comments on the fact that the background shows through the palest fabrics, which she feels mars the effect. She is bang on. It does, I don't like it either, but I couldn't think up a solution. I am pleased she paid enough attention to notice and cared enough to write it down. So if by any chance that judge reads this, thanks. Also both judges felt it was a very good interpretation of the theme, which means a lot to me on this one. The marks place this as equal top of my quilts, along with 'Star of Scotland' which is the rainbow star quilt I posted yesterday.

I've no idea about 'Ginko Typography' they didn't send me any sheets for it, or for 'Delta Blues' which was re judged there. I could try sending them another SAE and asking for those, but I think I am going to let it go. I don't want more charges. Keep your fingers crossed for a reply to my letter. It could happen.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Utility quilts.

I thought I would give you guys a chance to see the working quilts in the house. I do make functional quilts as well as the art, but at the moment I seem to have produced as many as we can use :( I like making big quilts but I guess I will have to wait until we wear out the ones we have. I have been toying with the idea of retiring a couple of them sooner rather than later. They were some of the first quilts I made and aren't as well built as some of the later ones. Our quilts have a hard life with 6 cats who all love them, so really they need a lot of quilting to make sure they stay together. Also on one of them I used invisible thread, not a big deal, but it was the cheap craft stuff and it does have very scratchy edges whenever they escape, and I don't like it. On the other hand I love the design and the brushed cotton backing. Maybe it would like to be thrown over a sofa or something.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Never tell me what can't be done

People really should learn not to tell me what can't be done. It just means I have to do it.

Today Robin was called by the organizers of a quilt show. They wanted to verify the size of his entry. It turns out that any quilt over 3m needs planning permission :) They then said they had handled a 6m quilt in the past :) So obviously I now need to come up with a design for a mega quilt.

I am thinking that some kind of mural would be good, or maybe a design that will only show itself at it's best when viewed from a distance. Maybe a massive soft sculpture? A whole quilted room? I saw a tea party last year. On the other hand is a room too obvious as needing planning permission? Or would it be a really interesting planning form, asking for permission to erect a room that isn't a room :) I can see me playing with this idea for a while. I guess they won't be getting many pieces that size just for the cost of materials involved, but I have to make one.

I've finally got to the bottom of the quilt on the frame. I was hoping to get it off the frame today, but tomorrow morning will do. I then need to get gems stabilized as quickly as possible so robin can get on with the rest of the quilting on it. It only needs to be done by the 4th August. No problem :) I still haven't started piecing the globe either, I did get the fabric though so there has been some progress. Now I need to have another go at this solder as you can see I have got a couple more on today already. I find it hard to believe that this needs 65 blobs, it doesn't looks like there is space for them all.

Dry joint - on a quilt!?

I never thought I would suffer a dry joint on a quilt, but they do say there is a first time for everything. We concluded that when the thread breaks in the same place on the blob of solder you are putting on a quilt for the third time it counts as a dry joint. I have redone it now so it should be all systems go when it is finished. I've managed to get about a dozen blobs sewn, stuffed and attached to the quilt. It is very slow work, worse than I had thought. I do not have them all cut and the seam in the top of the blobs sewn. Half of them have their bases and have at least been turned ready for stuffing. What can I do, I guess I just have to keep plugging away at it. It is so tedious, but it does look the part. I'll try and get pictures tomorrow, but tonight it is too late to mess about with the camera.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Day off - or hard at work

When people ask me where I get my inspiration my inclination is to say I don't get it, it just happens. Even so I have started paying attention to how it happens. It seems to happen when I am not working on quilting. I can hear the shouts of derision already. Anyone who knows me has probably accused me of never being off duty, but that's just it. When I am not working I do my best design work.

Saturday I took the day off. We were going drag racing, and I hadn't even prepared any hand sewing to take, or my notebook. This was a real day off. Honest! Leaving home at 5.30 am is never a good start to a day for me but off we went up the M1. What amazing colours, the trees were more green and the sky both more and less blue. Amazing, out came the camera. I have to make a quilt of that sky. Tall and thin, almost white at the bottom and this amazing rich blue at the top. With soft fluffy clouds. Less than an hour into the day off, one design sorted.

Last time we went to the drag strip there had been poppies in all the hedges, but the camera was in the boot of the car. Obviously this time the poppies were gone. Still another project for the future. We parked up in our pit facing a mobile home, with a really cool front grill. Kind of a trellis, hmm the challenge block that wasn't looking inspiring could make a trellis and I could put a climbing plant up it. Quilt 2 designed. Oooh and the engine quilt I am working on a plan for I could make the engine as one layer and hang a second quilt in front of it just like this grill. Yes that will work, quilt 3.

We had to wait for scrutineering and the start of racing, which meant sitting doing nothing for a couple of hours and some how I started thinking about eyes. Maybe because mine really hadn't woken up and were sore, who knows. Anyway happy hour was spent planning an eyeball quilt 'Here's looking at you' I've already started working on the pattern for that one, I love it. I make that 4 quilts before 9 on a day when I am not working.

The rest of the day turned up more ideas but I think you get the idea, and I think I know where inspiration comes from. Boredom, ideally when a bit sleepy. Letting your mind wander wherever it will however unpromising it might seem. After all eyeballs aren't the most obvious inspiration but I think it was probably the best one I came up with. So if you want more ideas, do nothing more often.
Oh but do take some way of recording your ideas. I did wish for my notebook several times but had to rely on my mobile phone and camera to record everything I thought of. Maybe this is also why so many people have good ideas in the bath of shower, they have let their mind do it's own thing.

Friday, July 07, 2006

schwmmmm wmmmm

Today has been a lot cooler and a lot more productive. I've started making the components for the PCB. In the picture you can see the real items as well as the copies. I am working on x10 magnification. I'm really pleased with the soft versions. It is surprising how much stuffing you need in an essentially flat object.

I've managed to get some more quilting done as well. I am at the milestone where the wadding doesn't reach the floor anymore. I guess it's sad but these little milestones mean a lot to me, they are how I measure my progress.

Of course I also had to finish the new picture. I had two people recognize it. I think it is a lot easier in this picture. For some reason the wing mirrors make all the difference to my brain. I am seeing a theme with all my art quilts, they all look great in low light. As I said earlier I hang them in a room that is usually dark, and just catching a glimse of it in the darkened room work great.

Now I feel I am free to work on other car portraits. I haven't decided yet whether to do one of my cars or Grumpys Dodge first. If I do Grumpy it would be great publicity for the drag racing crowd, but it is going to be very complex. It has logos and custom paintwork which can be done but will be a fiddle. Also it will be next summer now before I can really look for commissions from the racer.

Thinking of racing I really need to replace the suit zip tomorrow, that will slow up the quilting :(

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Can you see what it is yet?

So can you? No point for Mr_Twig guessing, he knows. I would be interested if other people can though. It is so obvious to me, but then I am obsessed so it would be. Bonus points for knowing it's name.

The first picture shows my quilt storage. I've been asked several times this week where my quilts like when they aren't off at shows, and here is most of the answer. The art quilts are all hanging from a photographic backdrop stand. I found these were half the price of quilt stands but otherwise identical. As you can see it happily supports a lot of quilts. I have used two lengths of string to add extra rails and increase my hanging space. I don't actively rotate these quilts as they come and go the light exposure evens out over all of the quilts. The room is often dark and the curtains are always closed.

Behind/under the frame is a double wardrobe rail. It is a cheap plastic clothes rail. It has really wide poles and would not work for me to hang clothes on, most of my hangers wouldn't have a big enough hook. For quilts though it is great as it offers more support. These quilts I do move about and refold. I don't want the bottom ones to get creases set in them or the top ones to fade. The black, blue and red quilt is Robin's first ever bed quilt. It was made to colour coordinate with my car.

Finally in the bottom right you can just see a blanket bag holding 'Ginko typography'. This is just to keep fluff of it until the weather cools enough for me to put it on the bed. I am not sure about these bags as long term storage, but for this they seem to work well.

There you go, that is where quilts live. I do also have some hanging around the house, but it is a very compact and full house so I don't have space for them all.

Nudes Update

I've just received a letter from Twisted Threads. I'm surprised at how quickly they decided on the Quilt 2006 class given the show isn't until mid August. The nudes didn't get in, but they will still be on display there are I entered them into the pictorial section as well. It is a mixed result. It would have been great to get into a juried show on my first attempt, but it is a one prize class and I don't think I would have stood a chance. On the other hand in the pictorial class there are 3 awards and probably a slightly lower standard so I might have a better chance.

They also say that at this point they can't tell me anything about how many quilts entered, how many were selected or anything else. Though from reading the letter it sounds like the winner has already been selected. I find it amusing that they keep stressing that they won't tell anyone that the quilts failed to get into Quilt 2006. They are missing the point that it was good enough to try for that class :)

So keep everything crossed for the nudes to do well in the pictorial class.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Local Quilt Shops

Support your local quilt shop and it will support you. A quick (3 hour) trip to buy some fabric for the sea on my globe, 'Tread Lightly' for the NEC did wonders for getting the creative juices flowing again. Getting to chat with like minded people in real time is still better than email. Sorry, but it is, and cups of tea don't seem to go through the phone lines very well. It was a successful shopping trip too, I have the sea. Very important given I want to use it as the base and built the land up on it.

Having got motivated I took another bash at the quilting. I am fairly pleased with how it is coming along, but I don't want to post any pictures until it is finished, sorry. After a trip to the Ace Cafe to admire the hotrods I've also done some more work on the piece I started yesterday, but I still don't think it would be recognizable, so no pictures of that yet either.

Hopefully tomorrow I can get the new piece to a state I can photograph and post it here. I also need to start making the components for the PCB. I am feeling quite excited about it again, which should get things moving.

Still too hot

I really can't cope with the heat, how do I persuade the other half that we need to move to the Arctic Circle. Before the day got too hot I did manage to get in a bit more longarming. I've discovered I really like using stencils to mark designs. If I want a repeating design I think this is the way for me. I think my ruler work is improving, it seemed a little quicker today. All too soon though the house became unbearable. I can't go outside without burning, and inside I cook. Siestas are the only option.

I have started work on another fun project, given my gruntle is still dissed, and I don't want to work on the show quilts. I hope I can get a picture up tomorrow and then you can all try guessing what it is :) I haven't got enough done tonight for you to have a good chance. Now I am going to try and sleep. I don't think I will have much luck it is 28 degrees still :(

Monday, July 03, 2006

Too hot

I guess those of you in hotter climes will find this a hoot, but we have heat wave warnings here. I don't deal well with hot weather so it means an unproductive and rather boring few days for me. I get to sit at home and do nothing much. Yesterday didn't improve my motivation. I have now written the first draft of a letter to the company that runs the shows. I am just waiting for someone to read through it for me. I know it will need work.

On a more positive note I did get a quilt loaded on the frame today and started work on it. I'm pleased with what I have done so far, it looks very simple but seems to be taking a long time. I am doing irregular crosshatching in the large outer border. It is giving a trellis effect which I really like. Hope the owner does too. I took nearly 3 hours to do the top border of a queen size quilt, but I think that was because I haven't done much ruler work. I've also discovered that not being strictly right handed is an advantage. I quilted myself into a corner and thought I was going to have a very hard time. Nope, I just use the ruler in my right hand and the machine in my left. If anything I would say my work was better that way around. I was hoping to get about half way through this quilt today, but no such luck. Maybe tomorrow will go a bit quicker.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


You know some days just don't read the script let alone follow it. The short story is I will be withdrawing my quilts from Harrogate. On the bright side it means I have some 'spare' quilts I can try putting into US shows. The reason is I am not prepared to let the company running the show anywhere near any more of my quilts until they review how they handle them.

I've been trying to work out how to make a quilt that would be likely to come back from the show in the same condition it went. We think that an absolutely rigid quilt (think thick sheet metal of perspex) that is smaller than the brown bags they want to store them in, where you can both deliver and collect might make it. I've been unhappy for a while that they post your quilts back to you in a brown paper bag. OK it is a thick bag but I don't think they are going to be waterproof. It rains here and our post office isn't perfect about keeping packages dry. I tried sending the quilts in waterproof bags but the organisers can't keep any packing so that didn't work. I have been thinking about only posting washable quilts, but I love making the art quilts and they aren't going to stand up well to washing. Maybe the only option is to travel to every show.

I didn't want Miss Baltimore folded, once folded I can't get the creases out. So I made her a roll to be put on. It is padded and has her name and mine on it. No problem they just have to put it back on the roll, all should be fine. I watched the quilts coming back, having a roll just means your quilt has to be crushed more to fit it in the bag with the roll. I tried to watch and ask for it to be rolled but was told i had to move and they would fold it. It doesn't matter and it isn't for long. Nice to know it doesn't matter to them. I rather hoped I would get it back in the same state I handed it over. That wasn't going to happen it looked like it had partly unrolled while waiting in a stack of quilts to be hung so had got crushed anyway. I lost it at this point and they decided they could roll it for me.

Loki a 15"x20" quilt came back folded in 4 then shoved into a bag folding it into 8, then a quilt was put on top of it. I did rescue him quickly and I am hoping he will recover. If not I guess I can make him again. Oh and the certificate for winning the longarm award was screwed up in the bottom of Miss Baltimores bag. Maybe I can iron it, although I am not sure I want to. Do I really want to remember this complete shambles?

I will be writing to the organisers tomorrow, outlining my concerns and withdrawing my quilts. I've got a few ideas to offer to improve the situation.
  • Less haste more speed, stop running around so much and take some care over taking the quilts down.
  • Ask for people to help with taking the quilts down.
  • Train the people packing the quilts how to do it with the least damage to the quilt
  • Let the quilter take down and pack their own quilts
  • Put a waterproof covering around the quilt being posted
  • Consider using storage devices other than the standard bag. Not all quilts will fit it without damage and those that don't fit get dirty because they are not allowed any other covering.

If anyone knows of guidelines for handling quilts or has tips on how to manage quilts at show I would be very pleased to hear about it. There were a lot less quilts at this show than last year and I can't help thinking that poor care of quilts can't help. I wasn't the only upset quilter, just the most vocal and the most prepared to step in to protect my work. I know some quilt can take any amount of folding crushing and general abuse, Ginko Typography is more likely to hurt the person moving it than the other way around, some can't. Fused trapunto creases very badly and doesn't recover.

I also retrieved 'Delta Blues' which is very grubby :( At least it is washable :) Sadly 'Chrysler' is still with them, and I feel very bad about it. I wish I could have rescued it too.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sitting Nude

I always wondered why paintings had such odd names, like 'Reclining nude' and here I am doing the same thing. Maybe it will get a better name before it makes it into public. After all your kind comments about the 'Nude triptych' (Hmmm that didn't get a better name) I spent a long time playing with a new image. Today I have got as far as the master drawing. It takes me a surprisingly long time to get the drawing done, about 3 hours, and I still need to ink it. Still I'm one step closer. I haven't decided what colour it will be yet. I do know I don't want to use flesh tones. I am tending to either blue or flame. I like the idea of doing a smooth image in flame colours. I suppose it doesn't really matter as once I have the drawing I can make as many as I like from the same pattern.

I have also managed to cut 36 solder spots. It might not seem like much of an achievement but I find it very difficult to do repetitive things. 30 unique blocks no problem, 30 identical I will get bored by about the third block. Strangely this solder is going to be the hardest part of the project for me, even though they are really simple to make. Of course they also need hand sewing, another no no for me.

Early night for me or I won't get up in the morning for Sandown. I am looking forward to it but I am far happier taking photos than being in them, and I know there will be cameras there.

Eeeep 65 blobs of solder

'Peek-a-boo' is now quilted and has a very '80's look. I love it. Even better for having been done quickly and early. I quilted it in simple lines about 1/4" apart. I used invisible thread so it would blend well with both the black and her face. I had been planning to use black thread in the black areas but I think there would have been too many starts and stops in a small area. I will post a picture later when I have taken one.

I then moved on to 'See Sound', the problem with doing new and exciting things is you have to work them out for yourself. I can't think of anyone I can call and ask how to make solder in fabric :) Still I think I have cracked it and it only took 2 attempts. Now I just have the other 63 to do. At just over 5 min each it is going to take a while. Still I suppose I can stuff and sew solder in the car on the way to Sandown tomorrow. I have also realised that if there is handsewing involved there is a limit to how big the quilt can be when it has stiff interfacing in it. I am sure I looked very funny trying to find ways to reach all the way around each solder blob.