Sunday, November 30, 2008


I've been quite recently for a couple of reasons. I've not been well, it seems that once I get a bug I keep getting new ones. I know it makes sense and working with people it's an occupational hazard, but it really does slow me up and I get so bored when I can't quilt. Still I seem to finally be on the mend so keep your finger crossed for that.

Other than that I seem to be working on an increasing number of projects I can't talk about. I know that at some point I will be able to post about them, but right now I just have to work away and not say anything. It wouldn't be so bad if I had time to do things I can share as well, but I don't. So much pouting is in order. Rest assured as soon as I can share, I will.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Herd home safe and sound

I got a very exciting package this morning long and skinny. I guess being excited by your own quilt is a little odd, but I was guessing it would have it's ribbon with it. As you can see it did. Very well wrapped too, my cats are thrilled with the bit pf tissue it was wrapped in. Yesterday evening I came home to find their cheque had arrived as well, so all present and correct. I was a little disapointed that there weren't more picutres in the show guide, but I am so thrilled they sent me one with my quilt.

The judges comments were also in with it, and they pretty much agree with each other which is unusual. One even complemented me on my binding. Maybe not thrilling to anyone else but having and the reverse comment for the other quilts I have sent to America I was very pleased with that. All commented that they would have liked to cows rro be clearer and more distinct, which is fair comment, but I like them as they are. I see coments about colour coming up again for me :)

For the next week they will be hanging at Patchwork Corner if you are near Hemel Hempstead and would like to see them. It's the only wall I have access to that they fit on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bryan Talbot talk

I'm guessing most of my readers won't have come across Bryan Talbot. It's a shame he is a fantastic writer and artist, but as he writes (and illustrates) graphic novels he hasn't reached as many people as I feel he deserves. As part of the year of reading, libraries have been organizing events to encourage reading. Last night Cheshunt library played host to Bryan, who was largely talking about 'The tale of one bad rat'. This graphic novel was very unusual when he wrote it, as it was intended for a mainstream audience not a comics audience. It was fascinating to learn how many comic book tools he chose not to use to make this book as easy to read as possible. It worked too, I had tried several comic books before this one and found the impossible to read, this was the first that really grabbed me. It is a rather unusual subject for a comic book too, the psychological after effects of child sexual abuse. No it's not a laugh a minute, and he worked very hard to avoid anything cartoon like in the book, but it isn't grim either. It's a good, fairly serious read.

In his talk he explained a lot about the things going on in the background of his work to set scenes and get you to feel what he is telling you. It is amazing how many very subtle things he does to change the feel of the story. Things you would never notice but do respond to. Having been working for many years he had a huge catalogue of work to draw on to explain how he makes a story work. One thing that really struck me about the talk is he delivered it as a story. He spent a long time filling in back story and giving us all the clues to understand what he had really come to say, and yet I didn't see him do it until afterwards. That's one heck of a skill to have.

The biggest surprise for me is how much I learned that applies to my textile art. One piece I have been planning will now be redrawn. What I had done was OK, in fact I was pretty happy with it, but now I know how I can make it better. Somehow in all my reading about composition and drawing the eye I hadn't got it, it took a story to show me how different lines and directions work. I went to be entertained, and a learned a huge amount. If I get another chance to see this talk I will be going again, I know I missed more than I got, and it will take another couple of tries before I come close to getting as much as I can from it. If you get a chance to hear him, do take it. You may not get all his comic book references but he explains things so well you don't need to, and who knows, you might find a whole new literary genre opening up to you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Some Quilts!!

There are some quilts that I put on the frame, quilt and take off. I like these, and I do get a fair number of them. Then there are the others. They fight every step of the way. They don't want to load properly, they could fit the backing either way around, almost. They wriggle, they move and generally cause trouble. The worst bit is I don't seem to be able to spot these trouble makers in advance. It's nothing to do with the quality of the top, or indeed any of the materials used, there are just some that will not co-operate. As you can guess I have one of these on the frame right now. It should have been a really fun quilt to work on, but it is doing everything in it's power (and a lot I would have said that wasn't) to make things difficult. The latest (and by far the most annoying) is taking up wadding far faster than it should. I measured before loading and I had loads of wadding, now it looks like being a couple of inches short. I have spare and can join it, so it isn't a disaster, but it shouldn't have happened. I can't even say I've learned from this and won't do it again as I did check everything before I started and I don't really want to ask for any more spare on the wadding it's getting daft. Rant over, I had better go and convince this quilt to behave, and people wonder why there are longarm quilters? Who would want to deal with these monsters if they didn't have to :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

New quilt to share

I've been dying to share this quilt on here, but I wanted to wait until the model had seen it. I had been asked to take a photograph for his web site, but this one struck me as too good not to use as a quilt. Fortunately he is quite obliging and gave me permission to use it, but I did feel that gave him the right to see it first. He only ran screaming as much as you would expect anyone suddenly meeting a large portrait of themselves so I figure I've done OK.

It isn't quilted yet, and that will be a challenge, I find faces very hard to quilt, but I guess I had to tackle that problem sooner or later, and as this is part of a triptych I should get a fair amount of practice. The tattoo will also be a challenge. I normally like to quilt in the contour lines of the body, and I like to match the thread to the fabric, so I guess there will be a lot of starts and stops there. Well it will be fun I am sure.

Yesterday I got to help a friend make her first quilt. An advent calender. I would like to point out we even made it in time. That's pretty impressive given the idea was only formed at the NEC this year and we a are both stupidly busy. She would like to add more quilting (it already has more than most get) but will probably leave that to be done in time for next year. I wonder if you would have one which you added to every year so it would be both an old friend and something new each time. I guess that will be one of those ideas I have to kick about for a while as I think it would be quite a nice thing to do. Now I need to go and work on a customer quilt and a clever idea I had an started yesterday. People really should start saving me from myself. I have far too many ideas.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh Wow!

I've just had it confirmed that 'Herd Mentality' won the viewers choice award at the Houston Festival. I am so thrilled, thank you very much to every one who voted for me. It's an award that means a lot to me as this is the opinion of quilters, with no agenda and who mostly have no idea who I am. I feel pretty happy that this was won by the quilt on it's own, and to me that is the best sort of award I could ever hope for. I am celebrating with a new heat pack for me neck. It's from John Lewis and is so good it works without me actually heating it :) I promise I will stop grinning at some point, honest. If you would like to see a picture of the quilt with it's ribbon take a look here. I haven't got hold of the owner of the picture yet so I can't put it on my blog. If I do get permission I will later. Thanks again to all those who voted for it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fabric boxes

On another blog I read regularly I found a post about making fabric containers, and how time consuming it is. I have a different method which I found a lot quicker so I will try to share it with you. Having had a go at doing this in just words, I've taken time to make a sample so I could photograph it. It is easy, but quite hard to describe.

As I hadn't planned on making boxes I have had to improvise. The thickest stabiliser I had was thinner than I would like so I have used two layers. You need to cut pieces for the base and the four sides. I used 6" squares in this sample, but you can make any size you like. I find larger is easier, but see what you can come up with. Also there is no reason for the boxes to be cubes. You can use rectangles, just make sure that sides that join to each other are the same length.

Roughly zigzag the sides to the base. You can see in the picture that I am treating the two layers are one. Had I been being careful with this I would have spray basted the two layers together, but I don't worry for a test piece.

When you have made a cross use it to cut two layers of fabric that are the size of the outer edges of the cross. I actually layered it up and then felt for the edges of the cross to position the ruler. Again if I had been trying to make a great box I would have spray basted the layers together, but pins will do the job.

Now you start to form the box. Pinch two sides together at a corner. You will have a big ear of floppy fabric, this is good, it will strengthen the corner later. You now need to sew down the corner to hold the sides together. Use a straight stitch and a thread that matches the outer fabric. You will find that you have to bend the box quite a lot as you sew the seam but it will bounce back when you have finished.

Sew all four corners then fold the ears flat around the corners. The point of the ear ends up exactly in the corner. If you have an overlocker this is the time to dig it out. It will trim the top and overlock it at the same time. If you don't have an overlocker go around the top with a zigzag, then trim the top flat. Stitch around the top again with the zigzag stitch to make a really firm edge. There you go one box. My sample took me about 30 minutes and I was taking pictures as I went which does slow you down, so hopefully you should find this pretty quick too. I think with a bit pf playing you will be able to come up with lots of interesting shape boxes with this technique.