Monday, August 30, 2010


Today I've taken a day off quilting to visit some wolves. This is one of the European girls who were by far the most obliging for photography and even so the framing leaves something to be desired. The Canadian wolves were the least helpful hiding in the trees, we saw two of the three and maybe the ears of the third. At least it's been dry, though to get good pictures I think I need to come on one of their special days.

Selecting thread

It's not often I get a customer quilt I can talk about, but today I have exactly that. This quilt belongs to Susan Briscoe and is for a book she is working on. She is sending quilts to a range of quilters to show how different quilting can change the quilt. I'm really looking forward to seeing the results. This is the first one I am doing.

We had a chat about possible quilting patterns and ideas, but as I said, she is looking for variations so isn't giving too much guidance. I did say I would pick threads close to the fabrics but a shade or two off. That's fine until you get to the border fabric. The first two threads I picked a possibilities are the two to the right. The quilt is fairly subdued tones so I thought a slightly greyed colour might work. I tried the brown(ish) one because the quilt had a lot of brown in it and the green because Susan had mentioned the green in the border when we were talking. I don't like either of them on the quilt they both look too bright to me. I was still thinking about green, the pattern I am putting in the border is of plants they are green, and the border fabric has bright greens in it. The second from the left was the best green I came up with. Darker greens tended to look very blue on this fabric and that was right out. I quite like the lime green varigated but it is loud. It woulkd make for some real 'look at me' quilting. That's fine in the right place. Is a pattern I've just invented on a subtle quilt it? No, I didn't think so either.

I actually gave up on the border thread for a while and selected the threads for the rest of the quilt. In the process I spotted the leftmost thread. For me it is the perfect combination of bright visable and subtle. It will show enough but not overwhelm the quilt and it picks up the autumnal feel of the quilt. I have my winner. This process is pretty much what I go through for every quilt. I often end up with a long row of possible threads and spend quite a while picking the right balance for th quilt. Sometimes I get lucky and there is either an obvious choice or it's not too critical, but more often it's a matter of trying out lots. The worst part is even having laid the thread on the quilt like this you sometimes get surprises. I had one where two of us had done this and come to, what we thought, was a good answer. I started quilting and after about 5 minutes was certain we were wrong, the thread looked horrible. I had to unpick and try again. Fortunately I did better the second time. Yes, I have started the quilting, and this time the thread does work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sewing World article about fashion designer from International eveing

One of the British entries in the fashion show was a team from a fashion school, who's name I can't find, please feel free to tell me. There were two models and several really interesting garments. One that I especially liked is this dress. Today I decided to take a quick look through all the sewing, knitting and crochet magazines just to see if there was anything interesting and boy was there. There is a whole article about this dress in the September issue of Sewing World, including how to make one.

The dress was designed by a new designer, Sarah Poulter who has just started her own bridal business based in Leicester. It is actually a rag rug, yes really, that has been very cleverly crafted to make this wonderful dress. She has liked it in duchess satin so you can't feel the hessian backing to the rug work. It's a good article with lovely pictures (there is a hat to go with the dress) but for me the instructions for making the dress are really the icing on the cake. Am I likely to make one? No, but I love knowing how it's done and it's given me some ideas for using the stiffness of quilting effectively in garments. Usually I would say quilting detracts from a garment but Sarah had taken something even more stiff and made something wonderful from it. Very inspiring work and I hope she will have a lot of success in the future.

The models in these pictures are Bex(dress) and Lucy(jacket) also with the same school. They kindly trained us in how to walk on the catwalk before the show, but still put us to shame with their performance. You really can tell how at home they were even from the still photographs. They were great to work with and kindly didn't point out our lack of skill.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm getting there

Monday was pretty much a write off, but I am now getting back into the swing of things. Tuesday I went and fetched my machine parts and paid their customs charges. APQS had done a great job of properly itemising the goods on the declaration so I only paid for the things I had bought not the replacement patr they had sent. It's a little thing but it can make a big difference to how much I pay in duties. I'd not been looking forward to replacing the hook. Last time it took several hour, two people and a fair number of injuries. This time it was less than an hour and I did it on my own. The machine is now much happier. I will admit I am doing a few simple quilts to be certain before tackling the more tricky ones I have waiting.

Yesterday I spent chasing down entires for other quilt shows and trying to get everything ready. I have been quite bad at putting lables on quilts recently and for US show I have to do it and do it right. 'Nude with Rope' Does already have her label but 'Greek Fossils' wich is heading to Innovatuions with her doesn't so I need to sort that out ASAP. My dress is also up for consideration for a juried show, so I figure I will put it's labels on while I am doing labels on the off chance it manages to get in somewhere. I also printed out the forms for Veldhoven, it must be a good show as it has now been recommended to me several times. I missed entering this year because of the amount of work I was doing. I won't make the same mistake again (I don't want to incur the wrath of certain parties).

If you do know of any good quilt shows I should be looking to enter please do let me know. I've heard a rumour of one in Norway, which I would love to be true. I belive there are a few in Europe, although one of the French ones had terms I can't sign to and I can't remember which it is. Are there any open shows in Canada or Australia? I am determined this is my year to push out to other countries, so feel free to give me a kick up the backside to enter your favourite shows.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quilts - FOQ

Most of the quilts this year didn't grab me at all. Partly they weren't really my thing and partly I wasn't in the mood for looking at quilts. However there are always some that shine regardless. Two of the ones I loved I can't show you as I haven't been able to get in touch with the artists, but this one I can.

I was just saying to Tet that I thougth I had found my quilt of the show (an art quilt of buildings in blacks and greys) when I came round a corner and saw this one. It stopped me dead and I knew this really was the quilt for me. I didn't have a show guide so I couldn't look it up, but I had to know more. Fortunately there was a lady very close by who had a guide, so I asked her to look it up. She declined, it was her quilt. How cool is that. The quilt is called "A future and a hope" by Lynne Quinn. I love it. I like the movement and I like the quilting on it. We took a lot of pictures of this one.

Another quilt I really liked was this one from Birgit Schueller, another APQS user. The quilting is so precise it could be mistaken for a computerised pattern, but it isn't. Her quilting is hand guided the same as mine. Amazing isn't it?

This is the quilt I had thought was going to be my quilt of the show, and I still love it. I was unsurprised to find it was made by a Russian, I do like Russian quilts. This one is by Irina Voronina and is called 'White Night'

Monday, August 23, 2010

Please and Thank You

The Festival is over and I'm back home with my cat's. I can now get back to something like normal :) I am now on the scrounge. If you came to the fashion show and have any pictures of my outfits do you think you could you get in touch. The downside of modeling your own clothes is not being able to get pictures.

I'd also like to thank all the people who have helped me get through the show. Those who have provided practical help and moral support. I don't think I could have done it without you.

I did very well with my spending this year. I only made one unplanned purchase, Helen Deighans braiding book and braid plate. I love making cords and some of her flat braids were lovely and I think will be more useful than the cords. Certainly I've had fun with it so far.

In the planned shopping I visited Heide Stoll Weber. She dyed the fabric I used for Greek Fossils. I am now looking for bigger pieces of cloth to make bigger but similar quilts. She is a star and it taking on the task. I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

I also went to see Starr Designs. This is the company who sold me the kit for Holiday Starrfire last year. I have a plan to make a double wedding ring quilt with their fabrics so again I needed to special order yardage.  It is a lot easier to select fabrics when oyou are face to face, but now I understand how they refer to the different colours I think it will be easier in the future. My next simple quilt project will be another of their kits, the new one, Wild goose chase. Being me, I don't want a small quilt, so I had to buy more than one kit, but I think it will also mean I can make myself more quilting space. I'm really looking forward to having a play with the design. I think it will come out looking very similar but with a bit more quilting area and a lot larger. I enjoy their klits because they let me relax. The kits wortk and the fabric is lovely.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Birmingham NEC

It's worrying, it feels far too homely here and it doesn't feel like it's been a year. If you're in the Crowne Plaza keep an eye open and say hi if you spot me. During the day I will be on the Patchwork Corner stand except for Sunday when I will be teaching.

The end is in sight

I've tunred the longarm off and it won't be back on now until at least Monday. I may have a chance to change the hook assembly before I use it again and from how it's been behaving today it would appreciate that. The hook is now in the country but I have a chance to get it until Monday. Most of my things are packed ready for the off. I've got one piece to finish assembling tomorrow before I leave. I am hoping I will drive to Birmingham at a civilised time but I'm not betting on it yet. I keep adding more things to my packing list and I am very pleased I am taking a van this time. However even with a van I don't think I am going to have much spare space. Ho hum, things always expand to fill the space available right?

I've had to call it quits for tonight because all my hammers have gone into hiding again. I swear one day I am going to buy a crate each of claw hammers and club hammers, there can only be so many a house can eat. Anyway I will go and enjoy an abnormally large amount of sleep, night night.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Up's up's and more up's

I spent Friday and Saturday at the Nimble Thimble in Buckingham. It meant one heck of an early start after a late night (well early morning if you want to be precise). Friday was speed quilts. I was concerned that it wasn't going to work out as none of my students had prepared their fabrics and wadding. Still they got down to work and two beginners (one of them in her first week of quilting!) pretty much finished their cot quilts in the day. That's pretty good going and great data for me, so thank you very much ladies.

After a quick trip into town for dinner we got set up for the evening talk. That should have been pretty simple but the hall had overbooked and someone else was using it during our set up time. We had been assured this wouldn't be an issue, they would only be using one half of the hall....wrong! So already running late we finally decided to ask if we could set up while they finished what they were doing. It did bring in some new features of setting up a talk. Communication with hand signals doe swork when you are dealing with people on the same wavelength but having to have a spotter was a new one on me. You see the group who were in the hall were sparing martial artists. Not ideal for putting up quilt stands but they were careful, we were careful and it all worked.

The talk went down well. I managed to borrow not one but two men to help hold up my quilts and the audience seemed pleased. I got a surprising number of new and sensible questions. Also several people could see Dawn and Dusk as looking quite Macintosh, I had thought I was the only one who saw it that way and it was nice to be proved wrong.

From there we moved on to the pub. One of the shop owners lives right next door to a lovely old pub complete with cats (her's but they like the putb too). After showing the regulars my postcards I went and fetched Nude with Rope, and we displayed her. Wow! What a response. I couldn't believe how enthusiastic people were. Bear in mind these weren't quilters just ordinary people out for a drink on a Friday night, but they got it, and loved it. It has inspired me to try and find a way to get my quilts in front of more people. I don't know how but I really want to do it.

Saturday I was back at the shop for another workshop, Autumn Leaves. I had one of my beginners from the Friday an experienced art quilter and a teacher looking for ideas for her students. This wide range of requirements lead to me changing the format a bit but I think it worked well. I came up with a new smaller design for the beginner who demonstrated the leaves for the others, and tried decorative machine stitches for her quilting. The teacher left with a variation on the class which I think will work well with children or any group, and the experienced quilter nailed my technique for binding. I hope they will have all found the day really useful.

Fabrications Issue 67
On the way home I stopped off to meet another of my students from The Nimble Thimble who has a horse nearby. She was practicing on him so I got to see him in action. Goodness he is lazy, but when he moves he is lovely. Yes I might have plans for this at some point.

When I got home I found my copy of Fabrications Magazine had arrived. Cool, something to read. However even cooler is the little picture of Phoenix Rising on the cover. Better still there are two more pictures of it inside along with Herd Mentality (currently in the US at the World Quilt Shows) Bad Rain and Daughter. Isn't that just a great way to round out the weekend? Well no, I finished the parts for my daywear for the International Evening and got it together as well. I think that counts as a productive couple of days right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Can you guess what it is yet?

Things are really motoring today and I am having fun, I just couldn't resist charing this picture. Besides you're supposed to take regular breaks right?

Wanna try a graphic novel for a good cause?

As you may know I sometimes work with people in the comics industry. Recently a publisher has had a bad time and appreas at this point to have gone under. This has left 60 creators with their work in limbo and no pay cheques. It's a tought industry and this is a big hurt for these guys. However one of them has come up with a way to bring out one of the projects that was scheduled to go to this publisher but for which the contracts hadn't been signed (hence this work is free from the legal mess). They are asking people to pledge support so they can fund the print run of the book. It looks like a good idea to cover a print run in a hurry with no funds. If they can't raise enough support no one pays anything and the idea just vanishes. On the other hand if they manage it a book will be produced and the profits from the sales will go to the Comic Book Alliance to help them in their efforts to safeguard the rights of comics creators.

Take a look at their video, see if you think you might like to give these guys a hand. It's a great idea, and if some good can come out of the mess the creators find themselves in that would be great.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not what I want to see right now.

Skipped stitches on leather are realy not funny. I'm out of ideas to stop it until my new parts arrive, but who knows when that will be as they are almost certainly stuck in customs. Gotta love how easy international business is. I do wonder if countries are actually trying to stop their people doing business at all.


Linzi, the APQS rep sent my problem to the US and got a very prompt reply. I didn't have much hope for their solution, as it was to do something that normally my machine wouldn't want but I tried it. It worked. So thanks all round to APQS support as right now I am way to stressed to think straight. Now if my machine could just make up it's mind about anything......

Monday, August 09, 2010

Why do to do lists only ever grow?

No matter how much I get done my todo list grows. It's just that I keep thinking of more things that need doing. I can see I am making progress but it's slow and there are lots of small annoying jobs that need doing as well. I have to admit a fair number of them are likely to get done at my hotel on the Thursday night. I can clean boots there and sew on hooks and eyes. Infact sewing on the fittings at the last minute is just plain sensibke. I change shape often enough that even doing it that late in the process things still may not fit by the time of the show. Despite my eveil list of things left I can see progress is good and in general I am feeling pretty happy about the show. It is getting very frustrating not having any pictures I can post though.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

It's getting exciting now.

I've been making some progress on theis fashion show lark. I've got my evening wear to a point where I can see how it will look and I am so excited. I think it looks good. I've still got the structure in the lining of the top to do and some structural work for one of the other garments in the set, but at least I know it works.

The items for the fantasy category and coming along well too. I've got a base layer that works and a lot og the quilting done. There is going to be a lot of binding to do though, and I srtill need to test the fastenings. I'm sure I have some buckles somewhere which I need to find too.

I've got everything ready for the other categories I just have to get the work done. I feel so much more inclined to work on this now I've got at least one thing I can thing I can really see. I hope I will be able to find other shows to put this stuff in and in some cases other places to wear them.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Endless hem

Unsurprisingly I am working flat out on things for the fashion show. Things are at last coming together. Today I've been working on finishing a skirt. I hadn't realised how many new ways of doing things I would need. Quilts are very different to dress making fabrics. Still it's together now and I think it fits pretty well. However the hem is massive. I feel like I've been pinning for hours but I'm less than half way around. I bet sewing is going to take forever as well. Guess I've had my break and I should get back to it.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

For the North of England

I am going to be heading up to Stockton-on-Tees in October 2011. It's a long journey and I'm wondering if any other groups might like to book me while I am in the area. Bookings for places I will pass on the way there and back are also a possibility. I am planning on just heading up and down the M1 but google suggests I might like to go via Manchester? I hope it knows something I don't as that seems a very long way around for no reason, but if there was a quilt group there it would make more sense. If I can link a few bookings together I will split the milage between them so everyone saves money. Now I have the van I just need somewhere to park up and I have my accomodation sorted too. If you're interested in a talk or a workshop there are more details on here.