Monday, December 31, 2007

It must be new year again

So here I am standing by a bonfire blogging. It must be New Years Eve. Just like last year we were quite late due to last minute quilting. This time it was a sample for next terms class, and hopefully a book. It's become urgent because in two days I am off to Prague for nearly a week flying back the day before my next talk. I then need to start teaching this class a couple of days later. Not much time for preparation really. I just hope I don't forget everything while I am on holiday.

So to prepare for the holiday I am trying to post a photograph from my phone. If it works I will be able to use it on holiday, if not I know not to waste my money transfering that much data internationally.

As well as working on the class sample and my other not nude I've been trying to get two quilts to America. Well technically they have made it there geographically but not legally as they are stuck in customs. Sound familiar? They have been stuck in customs since the 23rd and that is with a seemingly competent courier. Hopefully in the next couple of days they will start moving again. It does help having the show (Road 2 California) working with me and the courier to try and rescue them in time. If the quilts do make it they will be the first ones to be appraised. I have no idea what to expect but I am sure it will be interesting.

Well I guess I ahould try sending this before the text frenzy starts. Hope you are all having fun in whatever way you wish. Best wishes for the New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's that time of year again

Why is it that this is the time of year I have to make a new nude. For some reason it just has to come out now and can't wait any longer. This time I have two that are nagging me so this is just the first I hope. This piece has been building slowly for a while. I had the image I wanted to use, I love the shapes in this, but I couldn't quite see how to get the focus where I wanted it. I've played with a lot of different crops and light effects, and this is what I have ended up with.

The colour of this one also caused me some problems, I knew what it felt like to me but somehow none of the colours was conveying that. This group came about when I was looking for something else, but had the life and zing I wanted so finally I was able to get this one into fabric. The quilting will probably have to wait a few days so I can have a go at the other design I have ready to go. I don't want to wait too long though as I have changed how I have assembled this one, and it is only held with temporary products. Once I have quilted it it won't need anything and I am hoping that this method will give me a softer finish. Alternatively it will all fall apart before I get is finished and be a complete nightmare.

My final dilemma is the title of this piece. I thought it was going to be called Dance, but I think that might be a bit flat. Flamenco has been suggested as an alternative, which seems pretty good, but the quilt is refusing to tell me which it prefers. There is a poll to the right if you would like to tell me what it says to you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Not one but two time wasters.

Well technically neither of them will waste your time. They are both educational and one helps others, but they have both distracted me so much I had to blog to tear myself away.

The first is an excellent blog with a tutorial on making shawls. I asked her some time ago about her shawl and she has very kindly posted full instructions on making your ow. Having made scarves in a similar manner it was interesting to see what changes she had made to get her shawl which looks a lot more like fabric where mine look like loose knitting. The secrets seem to be the stitching and lots of silk. What a shame I will have to put silk in my shawl. I can't wait to have a go. Have a read of 'All Things Quilty' by Jeanne McBrayer.

So you're back you have escaped that little distraction then. I hope you found it interesting and inspiring, I know I did. OK next is a word game. I have been looking at a game for the Nintendo DS that is supposed to teach you new words, but I knew all the words on the box and that worried me. So when I found a link to this site on a blog I had to have a go. Free rice is a game you can play with a fairly clean conscience as you are earning rice to be donated to poor communities as you play, and the words are a lot more interesting than the ones on the game I was looking at. I have found a few where their definition seems a little odd, but it is usually pretty clear which one they intend you to pick. Have fun and earn some rice. The rice is paid for by the advertisers to the site. The adverts are delivered in a nice way, they are below the main game area so you see them but they don't disturb the flow of the game.

Now I have rescued myself from these distractions I can get back to the nude I was working on yesterday. I am hoping to have the top finished today, if I do I will try and get a picture up later.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Christmas Past

Well I might not be a huge fan of Christmas, but I would have to admit today has been pretty good. I think it helps seeing family a secton at a time. It gives you a chance to really talk and catch up with a lot less risk of disagreement. Also having less people makes the meal a lot easier to organise and you can reach most of the dishes.

I was especially thrilled with one of my gifts. I have inherited a fountain pen. That is pretty amazing in it's own right but Having known it's owner it is very special, amd it is ver similar to the one I had been planning to save up for. How cool is that. I cant wait to get home amd give it a go.

If you are into playing family games at Christmas I can heartily recommend 'The Big Taboo'. It is basically a posh version of charades, but it is a lot of fun and the things you have to describe are quite well balanced for different spheres of knowledge. if you are in the UK Toys 'R' Us are sellimg it for 6.99 which I thing is very good value for money.

The acid test

So geek that I am, I have a new gadget. I blog on the move enough that we felt I could finally justify my Nokia Communicator. It's a phone, but not as you know it. Now does it blog?

Merry Christmas to those who do. I hope everyone has a safe, warm, and fun day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Some successes

Well my quilts have headed off to the show. I won't know until the 27th if they are there safely but I am trying not to worry about it. It was a good collection the driver actually seemed to know about the paperwork. He checked everything for us and found an error, which was great as it will hopefully save US customs from getting upset and stopping my package. I am also pretty certain he won't have marked it as a permanent export so just maybe it will make it. On the other hand it wasn't cheap. It cost 140 GBP to ship 2 quilts to America on a 3 day service. The problem is the show only fives you two weeks for them to arrive and there are a lot of holidays in the delivery window. I think they are only actually accepting quilts for 9 days and most shipping options aren't that precise. Still at least it will be a lot cheaper coming back.

Yesterday I had a very interesting chat with the author of "The Morello Letters", Duncan McNair. He was signing books in Borders bookshop at Brent Cross and I was trying to find a member of staff to help me. I guess he had been there rather a long while but it worked, he sold me a copy of his book, which is actually pretty funny. Anyway, it was interesting to talk to him about publishing options, he said very much the same things as the quilters I have talked to. I find it interesting that the interaction with publishers is much the same for very different styles of books. I had assumed that the illustrated instruction books would be harder to work through than a novel, but apparently not. I am sure there was a time when I would have been a little intimidated by a published author, but having spoken to everyone I've come across this year seems to have made them more human. They have all been very down to earth and very friendly people. I hope Duncan does really well with his book, and will write many more.

I've also found time to play with my new thread. the metallic did indeed just work. I haven't even changed the needle. I then tried the holographic film thread, which I think is called Glitter. I wouldn't normally even try this sort of thread, I know it is trouble even with a metallic needle. Being lazy and prone to tempting fate I though I would just try it on the longarm with the standard needle. Would you believe it, it worked. It amazingly well behaved, it would be happier with a thread net and I had to rig a way to hold the spool horizontally but other than that it's great. I am so thrilled. Now I just have to plan a quilt to use it on.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I only had three goals today,
  • Be home to receive a package of threads
  • Join the Library
  • Post two quilts
Now that doesn't sound too bad does it. Even better I had called the company shipping my quilts earlier in the week so they are expecting them and would have all the right paperwork. Well they might have if the helpful staff member had been there. Selling me a cardboard box was beyond those who were covering the shop today. The concept of a 'temporary export' and 'special paperwork' really was quite out of the question. So I left with quilts in hand to try and find someone else to ship them. I do have an account with DHL but I am not too keen on using them again. So after much research I will be setting up a Fedex account tomorrow and hopefully they will go then. Of course that is quite a long way from ideal, I had other plans for tomorrow, but I have to get these quilts to Road 2 California.

While we were messing around with trying to find a courier and arrange all the paperwork (there seems to be more each time I do this) I entirely missed my chance to join the library. I am starting to think it just isn't supposed to happen. I keep planning on joining but I've only once made it to the door and then found them to be shut. Well I guess they appeared to be shut as I assumed it was Wednesday, the day they are closed all day but just as I arrived home I realised it was actually Tuesday so they should have been open. Maybe it will be better for having to wait for it. I am so pleased to have found a close library with a good selection of audio books, I am sure I will keep trying until I do manage to join.

There were bright spots to the day though. I did manage to be in for the postman, and I got a huge box of very pretty threads. Having declared I would never use metallic threads again, Deloa let me try some on my machine. They worked like a dream, so as soon as I could I ordered some. I have a wonderful blue and a purple, I can't wait to play with them. I also ordered some holographic threads. They were sample prices and it says they will work on a longarm. Now, I know Superior don't usually lie, but I would be very cautious about using this on a domestic machine. Still I have it and the suggested needles so we shall see. I am hoping I will have time to play on Saturday, but I don't promise anything.

I was also very impressed with the customer service lady at Quilters Newsletter Magazine. I ordered my subscription online three years ago, and I am fairly sure I typed my address correctly. Somehow it and my name have been wrong all through my subscription. Every so often it has annoyed me enough to try and get it corrected, but no luck. That and the fact that the renewal notices don't apply to overseas (relative the the USA) subscriptions had convinced me to let the subscription lapse. However I gave it one more try, and I am reassured that this time either it will be corrected or someone will be looking into it. They were also able to offer me a good renewal price so they kept my business. I guess that shows the power of good customer care, even when something has gone wrong.

So with things looking up and plenty to look forward to playing with I think it is time for bed. Take care of yourselves, eat well and keep warm over these long dark nights. Those in the southern hemisphere enjoy the sun and make sure you send it back to us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Woo Hoo, I have ticked my box for success

OK, you all know I am nuts right? Well when I started my own business I decided that for me success meant being able to buy a festive goose. Odd perhaps but it makes sense to me. Well today I have done it, I didn't feel being able to was enough I had to actually manage it and this year it was proving tricky, but I have my goose. An odd but at least tasty trophy that won't need looking after for long.

Of course I have to ask, what defines for success for other people? I know I am not the only person with strange ideas, as Duncan Bannatyne knew he had made it when he could buy his family ice cream, but I would love to hear about other peoples strange goals.

Busy but boring

Sorry I am rather quiet but I've been doing lots of very boring things recently. Holiday apparently means time to catch up on paperwork, and the business side of the business. Not the most thrilling things to blog about. I don't think a photo of the piles of paper would really improve it either. Still it had to be done and I am glad I've been getting things sorted. It is amazing how much I seem to spend on printing in this supposed paperless world. I also find it amazing how few printers will give me a quote. I've asked seven I think and got none. Do they want work? My local printer will do everything I want but I know they are quite expensive and I don't really have money to throw away, but if they are the only ones who will give me a price I guess I have to go with them. You know it is bad when you start thinking of having an American company print posters and leaflets for you as they will quote. I think the shipping will wipe out the savings so for now I will stick with the UK.

I do have several quilt projects to work on over the holiday (well what is left of it) I have two exciting nearly nudes I want to do, maybe I will start drawing the pattern today. Only problem is one won't tell me what colour it should be so I can't actually start cutting fabric. maybe by the time I finish the first the second will be more chatty.

So rest assured as soon as I do something less boring I will share it but until then good luck preparing for the festive season.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Party

Before I rave on about the party tomorrow I had to show you a bit of this quilt. I took this quilt on as my emergency quilt. I had filled all my before Christmas bookings when I got a request to do this one extra, for a deserving lady. Well When people ask nicely and tell me it is a well deserved favour what can I do? Even better the customer was quite prepared for me to finish if on the 24th and she would have sat up all night to bind it. Even better she told me to d whatever I fancied and I was sure she meant it. I loved working on it, the plaid is so soft it feels great to work on. The real treat was handing it back. She was so pleased to have it back so soon and she did like what I did. Her reaction is why I do this job, and believe me after Christmas I will be thrilled to show you the whole quilt. I was very pleased to get the squares, it let me try out continuous curve. I found it was easier than I remembered it and I think I will have to try and find more to practice on, as I might really like this technique.

So the Christmas Party. It will be at Patchwork Corner 10am to 4pm tomorrow. There will be sale fabrics, demonstrations and lots of goodies to eat. If you have ever been to a shop hop there you will know the drill, if you haven't and you are in the area come and say hello. I will be demonstrating a quick shopping bag, with ridiculously over engineered straps. they are made from the webbing I use for car restraints. I have a lot of it so you too could have a very strong bag for your shopping.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Two person quick quilt.

Last Thursday Robin decided to come up to the shop with me. He then was foolish enough to show an interest in a new range that had just arrived and before I knew what was happening he was making a sample up.

The quilt was done in a very leisurely six hours. with many distractions, well it did coincide with my Thursday night class. Most of the quilt is made from cheater fabric, which is why it is quick. It would be even faster if you weren't fiddling to try and get a perfect number of half square triangles on each side. The pattern that comes with the fabric is for a 3x3 center section, but we decided that was too big for a sample, so had to recalculate everything for the 2x2 size.

The only real patchwork in the quilt are the corner stones in the wide border, and if you are making up this pattern and you want the narrow green stripes in the border make sure you cut the squares half an inch bigger than the pattern say to. We added the outermost red border to help preserve the the green strips as well, we needed some where to attach the binding. The binding is really clever, it is made up of the half square triangle fabric you have left over. When you cut the strips for the inner border you can only use alternate rows as you need to leave a seam allowance, but the scrap is the perfect size to turn into binding. It looks really good too.

Friday I quilted it. I didn't enjoy the meander much, I never do but we like to use it on things like this as a lot of people can do it easily and it shows what it will look like the way they are most likely to choose. Personally I would rather have done tight 'Decadent swirls' but that is just me. In the half square triangles I got to try out a continuous curve pattern. It went pretty well for a first attempt, and inspired me to try a small cross hatching in the middle of the faux applique. It's a good effect and I suspect I will now use it again. Having a grid stencil does make it a lot easier.

The corner stones did stump me for a while but eventually I settled on continuing the border design with quilting. To do this I traced the leaves from the border fabric onto Golden Thread paper and added extra motifs as required. I then pinned the paper into position and stitched through it on the line I had drawn. It's a nice way of doing a fancy quilting patter with a fabric like this as there is no artistry required just trace things to fill the space. Each corner has a different design and I suspect if you don't know how it was done it would look pretty clever. The best part was that the design was simple enough to do as a continuous line on three of the corners.

If you would like to see it in person this quilt will be on display this Saturday at the Patchwork Corner Christmas Party.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nearly holiday time

It's nearly time for me to have some fun and work on my own projects, and boy am I looking forward to it. My last customer quilt before Christmas is on the frame and will be finished hopefully tomorrow. I have a shop sample I want to get done this week as well, but then I am free until the new year.

I have two designs drawn up and ready to work on which I am really keen to get started on. I want them both to be in my solo show next year so I need to get them done. I also want to make another whole cloth or three. OK so I probably won't get all of those done but I would like to do at least one, and I like to have a project on the frame and one in the sewing room so I can swap between them. I have to have some sewing I can do whilst watching the Christmas Lectures don't I. I might even find other things on worth watching while I work on the off frame pieces. I can't wait, but somehow I don't mind that I have work to finish either. I guess that is the bonus of enjoying what you do right?

A quilt I sold last year is here, it was funny to see it again on a blog. It's rather nice though. Something like an old friend calling you out of the blue. It's good to know it is being enjoyed.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Leafy quilting

Here is another quilt I worked on recently. It was a fun diversion and allowed me to check that my problems with the shirt backing weren't just to do with having a pieced backing. Isn't it good when a customer is also a friend and you can say things like that. I really like the idea that the maker will be doing the artistic quilting while I just put in the background to hold it together. It is an interesting way of making use of a longarm quilter and I enjoyed it more than basting the quilt. I am sure I shouldn't say this given my line of work but I do enjoy enabling people to do their own quilting. I hope I get to do more pieces like this.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Back in the blogging world

Well I have finally finished the quilt that has been talking up all my time for he last week. It was a great learning experience, but I didn't entirely appreciate it's timing. My tip is not to use recycled shirt fabrics for both the front and the back of the quilt. Using it for one seems top be fine, but both is 'interesting' to quilt. If you really must then I suggest a large needle and a very fine thread. Still the owner seemed very pleased with it and I think it looks great. Hopefully after Christmas I will be able to show you it.

Other quilts I have been working on are these three for Project Linus. I'm afraid I can't tell you who made any of the tops, I don't know, but if they are yours do get in touch and I will happily credit you.

I take tops and backings and supply the wadding and the quilting. I like doing Linus quilts as I feel more able to play on them. I know that the most important thing is to get them finished although I have to admit I have had these a long time.
The first is a t-shirt quilt and I didn't feel it wanted much from my quilting. I did use a bright variegated thread to add some life to the quilting, but I kept the design simple, 'decadent swirls'. I used this pattern on the nine patch quilt as well, as my quilting wasn't going to show.

The blue and green quilt I really had fun with, this is the sort of top I love to find in my Linus package, what a fun piece to quilt. I tried out some new (to me at least) border patterns, and found some a lot easier than I expected. I was especially pleased with the one in the dark blue outer border, of course that doesn't show up too well. This design is one I developed from a design taught by Deloa. In the plaid border there is a similar but I think less well executed design. I was less sure of it so I put it somewhere it wouldn't show so much. I don't think the small half squares show up too well either, and I was very pleased with them too. They have a different style of flower petals on each fabric but share the same center. I hope the new owners will get a lot of of them.

If you would like to help with making quilts for Project Linus you might like to join the Quilt-a-thon at Patchwork Corner next year. We will be quilting for 24hrs to make as many quilts as we can. I will be at the shop with my longarm to get tops finished, and we will be using every quick technique we can think of to turn scraps into quilts. All help will be welcome, even non sewers can be put to work ironing or making tea. If you have scraps you could donate those would be appreciate too. It will be held on the weekend of the 6th July, more details will be posted as we get closer to the date.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Saachi Online Gallery

Oh my, I can't believe it's been a week. I've been very busy, if only I could get these 48hour days that people keep talking about. Still I think it will calm down a bit by the end of the week, so hopefully then I will have time to put some pictures up here.

I was called today by a friend who applied the toe of her boot to my rear. I now have a gallery page on the Saachi web site. I've been meaning to do it for a while but it seemed a very big step so I had been putting it off. Apparently a toddler has just had their work accepted into a gallery after their mum put it on the site, if they can do it so can I. I've not put anything into the showdown yet, but I will and I guess I should make use of their sales system too. Still step one complete.