Friday, June 30, 2006


To try and keep myself on track I pre plan what I should do for about 3 weeks at a time. It doesn't always work out as planned but it does mean I never sit around wondering what to do. When I checked the diary today it told me to work on Peek-a-boo. The idea was that by having a break from See Sound I wouldn't get bored and it would get finished quicker.

It still seemed like a good idea so this is what I have been doing today. I had already prepared the master drawings so I could submit sizes to the Harrogate quilt show. I used the same fabrics I had selected for Miss Baltimore. Those lips are Miss Baltimores shoes and really aren't that orange. Her eyes were some fabric I had pulled out to make the shadows in Miss Baltimore's hair but never used. It was a really quick low stress project.

I didn't have any of my usual interfacing here and I didn't want to have to go to my storage unit and get it so I tried some dressmaking interfacing. This interfacing has rows of stitching running through it and is very stable. I like the way it has behaved as a base and I think I might use it again if it quilts up well. As ever it is more expensive but it might be worth it for the added stability in wall hangings.

I am planning to start quilting her tomorrow. I know how I want her to be quilted but I haven't decided which machine to use. I think I might go for the domestic to give Robin a chance to play on the longarm before the NEC as he wants to use it to quilt his entry. On the other hand, it's a lot easier to do on the longarm. Decisions decisions.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Miss Baltimore Update

So do I drag this out and put this entry on in order or do I put you out of your misery. I guess most quilters can figure it out given the show doesn't open until tomorrow and I have an update. I has a rather odd phone call this evening, a lady asked for Mrs Ferret, then lost reception on her phone. It took several minutes before she had enough signal for me to be able to return the call. During that time it was puzzling, here was someone calling me, in the evening but not knowing I am just Ferret, I never use a title. Turns out she was from Grosvenor exhibitions calling to tell me I have won the long arm prize at the National Quilt Championships. I am beyond pleased, this is the award I really wanted. I didn't think I had a chance in the theme category (they have to give the prize to a hand sewn Baltimore beauty really, I wonder if they did) but I thought the quilting was good and I was hoping I would get a judges merit certificate. This is so much better than that. Fortunately I was planning on going to the show on the Sunday to collect my quilts so I can go to the awards ceremony as well. No idea what I have won, and honestly I don't care. They appreciated my quilting and that means a lot.

To celebrate we had to go and eat sushi :) Well what else would I do. So I took the opportunity to photograph the sushi rice. I want to make myself a wall hanging that says "Will quilt for sushi" and I want the letters to be spaces in quilting that looks like rice. I think it will be fun. The tricky bit I think will be making sure I don't let the grains of rice align when I quilt them. When we got home we went for a walk in the park and chatted to dog owners to collect pictures of dogs as source material for more quilts.

As you can see from the pictures I have been working on 'See Sound'. I traced the lines for the front onto the fabric. I really need to get a light box, the window does work but it really makes my arms ache and thus takes far longer than it needs to. I've also started stitching the lines in. I think it looks really good. It isn't as wrinkled in real life as it looks in the pictures.

I think I will be grinning randomly for the next few days, at least until I pick up the award. Mikki if you read this before Sunday you've picked a fine time to be efficient I was going to surprise you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

PCB begins

I had planned to take yesterday evening off after I delivered the quilts but I guess art doesn't play by normal work rules. I drew up the master drawing for the front of the PCB quilt 'See Sound'. All the positive comments for the nudes has got me thinking about my next nude. I spent several hours playing last night and I think I have 2 more planned, but you will have to wait a while for images. I think I'm going to do a female sitting with her knees up as my next one.

I also spent a long time talking to an old friend, who is now writing graphic novels. In the course of the conversation I was reminded that I was planning to make a quilt inspired by the art of Frank Miller. So obviously I had to go and look through my books for ideas. He does some great illustrations of rain. Specifically he has done a bridge. The rain and the bridge are left the white of the page and everything else is filled in with black. I think this idea would work well in fabric so now I have to start looking for either a bridge or a very ornate building.

I've been very pleased with my progress today (especially after a very late night last night). I've drawn up the master drawing for the back of the PCB, and I remembered to write on it before I forgot which way round it went. I've also managed to put all the tracks on the back and quilt it. The tracks are made out of some amazing fabric that Doug at Patchwork Corner found for me. It looks both dark green and coppery, depending on how the light catches it. Even better it can be ironed on a cotton setting. Fantastic, I am kinda prone to forgetting I shouldn't iron some fabrics.

The tracks are held down with steam a seam 2 lite. I've run out of the spray fusible I usually use, which I think has worked to my advantage. I think the spray would have come through the fabric. Also the extra weight it adds will work in my favour on this piece. I want to make the quilts as rigid as possible (whilst keeping them as textiles) so they won't sag when I add the components. To help with this the I am making the front and back as separate quilts and joining the at the end. Each has the outer face with the design on, a layer of wadding and a layer of pelmet vilene. It also seems to be stopping the satin stitch from distorting the face fabric.

Tomorrow I will try and work on the front of the PCB. The marking are only 3mm wide so I don't think I will be able to use bias tape for them which is what I had planned. I am going to try just quilting the details on using the satin stitch I used to outline the tracks. Hopefully the vilene will keep it all flat and strong. If it doesn't want to play I can always start making the blobs of solder to finish off the back side.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Empty coop

All the quilts have flown taking my show quilt total for the year to 9 so far. There are another 12 on the list already which take me to about September. Two of these are already almost finished and another 2 should only take a day or so each. The nudes turned out to be almost too big for the car. Bit worrying as I am known for being able to fit anything in a Capri. Well I suppose I am safe for now as it did fit. They lady who took it from me was a bit shocked by the weight :) I did say it was heavy.

For anyone going to Sandown, please believe me that Loki didn't have creases in when I delivered him. I strongly suspect he will have by the time he makes it to the wall. They had so many quilts arriving today. There was a queue when I arrived and a longer one when I left. So although we gently rolled him to get him into a bag, it then had to go into a big pile of quilts.

Last year I was surprised to find the people accepting quilts, pinning on hanging sleeves. Apparently someone with quilts for sale had delivered them without sleeves and the ladies were kindly adding them. I thought that was above and beyond the call of duty and I am not sure I would have done that. Well this year they had an even bigger pile that needed the same treatment. I was shocked. Surly if you want to sell a quilt you want it well presented, and you are expecting them to hang your quilt? As such I would want to put in some method for them to do this. I think these ladies deserve an award for service to the thoughtless. I hope they do bring it to the attention of the quilt owners.

Now on to the next batch. I have 2 more I need to get done for the Festival of Quilts at the NEC. I am doing a globe and a PCB. A PCB is a printed circuit board, an electronic gizmo :) This one is a sound to light converter. It has a microphone and when it picks up a sound it lights 4 LEDs. I am enlarging it to 10 times it's original size. This includes making 3D components. Also it will be a working PCB. I am looking at putting in 5 LEDs for each one in the original so hopefully it will be obvious when it lights up. I think I broke the chap at the electrical shop where I bought the LEDs. I asked for advice on the super bright LEDs as I needed them for a display in a well lit exhibition. He talked me though it and I chose some. His first problem was that I was buying 20, apparently people don't do that. The he asked where I was exhibiting, was it the electrical show at Olympia? "No," I said " the NEC". He thought for a minute and said he couldn't think of any electrical shows there. "No it's the Festival of Quilts, they will be on a quilt". There was a nasty noise as his jaw then his brain hit the floor. That was the end of sensible conversation with him. Whups.

I had a similar conversation with Greave and Thomas globe makers. I bought 2 globes from them and asked for permission to use them as source images for a quilt.
"A quilt?"
"Globes are spherical"
"Quilts are flat"
"Not necessarily, I want to make a spherical one"
"But it won't fit on the bed"
"No it will be art"
But they did give me permission and shipped me my globes, which are great. I guess I need to send them a picture when I have it finished. The finished item will be called 'Tread Lightly' and hopefully will have trapunto footprints. I say hopefully as I haven't quite worked out the logistics yet, I want to do all the quilting while it is flat so I have to make the footprint join up when it is assembled.


All done. Miss Baltimore has her label on and everything is packed ready to go. I guess it is time to find out where I am supposed to be going :)

This is a whole new experience for me. The quilts are done and waiting to go but I can't just leave the house and deliver them. I am finished early and I have to wait a couple of hours before I go. I'm not sure I like this. I think I will stick to my last minute rushed then you don't have time to fret.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Things they don't tell you about quilting

So lets start with the good news. I've got three quilts packed up ready to deliver tomorrow. I wanted to take a good picture of "Ginko Typography" today but it rained almost constantly. That's Wimbledon starting for you. I guess the one on the bed is good enough for identification, and as I am taking it straight to the show it should manage to get hung and I can get a good picture then. If they turn all the lights on this time.

Loki is proving to be tricky. I don't want to fold or roll him as he has a lot of trapunto and is tending to crease. He is just too big to fit in the clear bags I use to move quilts in. Also I know the show will try folding him up to give him back, they did last year with Skadi :( Not a lot I can do about it though so I guess I have to try not to worry.

The nudes have been given VIP treatment and bring me to the first thing no one told me about quilting. You need a respirator. I have a huge cardboard tube and I needed to cut a bit off to pack the nudes. No problem, have hacksaw will travel. As I start I see very fine dust, fine wood pulp and glue, hmmm that has to be about as good for you as MDF dust and off I trot for my respirator. I bought it for when we work on the fuel dragster as it gives off some nasty fumes but I use it far more for quilting. Indigo dying needs nasty chemicals as does natural dyes, so add it to my list of essential art tools :) I got the nude wrapped in canvas and wrapped onto the tube, discovering the second thing no one saw fit to mention. Weight lifting is not only advised it will happen. The tube a, canvas and quilt turned out to be remarkably heavy. I am so glad I am not trying to post this one. I figured as it was going to couriers warehouse I had better prepare it to withstand anything.

I followed that weight lifting with some more. Folding Ginko should be a strong man sport not only is it heavy it is stiff too. My back says I should avoid folding it in future. I am so glad that I have sent them a warning about this quilt, and I will mention it to the people who take the delivery as well. I really hope they don't try to hang it on a flimsy frame. I can't wait for next winter and the chance to have this on the bed.

Finally Miss Baltimore is almost ready to pack. She still needs her label but it only got printed at 10pm so it can wait till the morning. I have tried to take some pictures of her but they aren't great. I either need to be able to take it outside or buy a flash that works with the wide angle lens. Funnily enough I prefer having the sunny day for this job, then I can spend money on fabric not more photograph equipment. I am fairly pleased with her, but she creases really badly, and it seems to be impossible to get them out. I am hoping some will come out while she is rolled and the rest will drop out. I suspect they won't but I have run out of ideas to fix them. I didn't think the quilting showed up very well in the pictures of the front so I have included some of the back as well. Her face really doesn't look that scary from the front. I still haven't added any more quilting to the face. I think the only way to put more in would be to add diagonal lines over her whole face. The mock up we did on the computer looks OK but not great. If in doubt leave it alone, I hope that works.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Ok, seems that blogger only allows five pictures per post, so here are the cats. I figured that as I had to make another post I would add another picture. Loki is the black and white cat, Skadi is the tabbly. Yes all my cats have norse names :) I hope that I will make a portrait of each of them.


Here they are at last. All done. These are my nudes. Please excuse the background. I haven't got anywhere plain to hang my quilts. I think I will have to look into renting a photographic studio at some point but not right now. At the shows I expect the will all be hung on black back cloths which should make the nudes really glow. I was looking at the effects of colour and technique on an image. The grey one is made up of quarter inch squares, which is what was needed to get the look I was after but never again. It was so boring to do and quite stressful. Sneezing or even breathing hard could move the pieces. The red one was the quickest and the most fun. It is all little triangular shards of fabric. I love that the end result has the look and texture of oil paints. I will be doing more like this. I am thinking of trying a landscape in this very soon. The final panel in blue is the same technique I use for all the cat portraits and Miss Baltimore. They are all quilted in much the same way, trying to pick up on the contours of the female form. I have loved working on these and I already have my next nude lined up. I have got as far as the master drawing but I can't work on it until I have got the other show quilts out of the way.

The cat is called Loki. He is the second of my six to have his portrait done, last year I did Skadi as a class project in Realistic Fabric Portraits with Marilyn Belford at Skadi won second place at Sandown last year. I've done a lot less thread painting on Loki. He sat for months while I tried to decide what I was going to do. I finally made up my mind when a very good artist I know said I had already captured the quintessential black and white cat. That was it, he was finished.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How to get everything done on time...

not. I have 2 quilts I have to finish by Tuesday so obviously my brain doesn't want to play ball and I end up taking half the day off. Hmmm. Not really what I was looking for. This morning I was pretty productive and the second of the three nude is finished. I convinced myself that a pipe cutter was an essential quilting tool, bought one and used it, so the hanging rods are now the right length and together. I realised that by putting on two sleeves and a label I was covering up the back of the quilting which is a shame I really like the look of it. I have tried to take some photos but being black on black they haven't come out too well. I've also put in a close up of the front of one of them that shows some of the quilting at least. This is very similar to what I tried to do on Miss Baltimore.

So I suppose that brings me to what distracted me. The picture is a clue :) For some reason this quilt just had to get out NOW. You know how some ideas are, they just refuse to wait their turn. I think the top is finished but I might change my mind when I have time to quilt it. Hopefully I can now get back to what I was supposed to be doing and finish these nudes tonight.

Friday, June 23, 2006

4 of 6

The nudes are well on their way to being finished now. I have 4 of the 6 sleeves on, one top and bottom on each of three panels. I've even put on one of the labels. I have to admit hand sewing is not my strong suit. I can make it look good but it takes me a long time and makes my shoulder ache. Still I've got the evening off. I am going out for dinner. Rather good planning, I can let my shoulders rest ready to finish the sleeves and labels tomorrow.

Miss Baltimore tops up her tan

Who would have thunk it? I really like the quilting on her bikini bottoms, they look much better. I settled on the micro stipple for the banner which I also like. Having checked samples of all the fabrics I used I don't trust 2 of the reds to get wet, or her eyes. I managed to buy two very large blocks of polystyrene which I have 200 mph taped (duct tape to the rest of the world) together to make a big blocking surface that will fold to fit in the car or through doors.

Given I didn't want to get her wet all over I decided to lie her on the blocking surface and spray her with water, which meant working outside. She looks pretty good now and after lying for an hour in the sun was dry enough to for me to stand up without fear of water getting places I didn't want it. So she is now standing in the back room drying and hopefully setting in her new flat state.

Back to the nudes.

Aged Miss Baltimore

This is where she got to last night. Complete with wrinkles. My first job today is to go and find a board I can pin her to to block her and hopefully remove some wrinkles. Although before she gets streched I will quilt her knickers and banner.

Where to see my quilts in person

Given quite a few of my quilts are or will be out and about I thought this would be a good place to list when and where.

National Quilt Championships - Sandown - 29th June to 2nd July
  • Miss Baltimore
  • Loki
  • Ginko Typography
  • Chrysler - South West Challenge touring
  • Delta Blues - Spring Challenge touring
Festival of Quilts - NEC - 17th to 20th August
  • Union Jack
  • Nudes Triptych
  • Tread Lightly
  • See Sound
  • Pair of Gems - 2 person entry with Robin
Great Northern Quilt Show - Harrogate - 1st to 3rd September
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Harrogate Spa
  • Wild Africa
There will be more coming but these are the ones I have finalised so far if you want more information about any of the quilts or shows leave a comment and I will see what I can do.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I hate this phase in the project. I take the quilt and hang it up, then all I can see are faults. Right now I hate Miss Baltimore. I needed to take it off the frame and have a look at it so I could see what more I have to do, but I wish I didn't have to. On one hand it is the first time I have see the whole thing in one go. I don't have anywhere big enough to lay it out so I have to wait until it is safe to hang. I think overall the concept works but...

I had to press the quilt once it came off the frame which has flattened it a bit but it still doesn't hang well. It needs blocking, but to block it I need a space to pin it out on. I don't have one :( I think I will also have to quilt her bikini bottoms. It's a shame I would have liked them to sit loose as though they were covering her form. I think to do that I would have had to have quilted all of her, including the area they cover and then have added them at the very last moment. I think I may try that when I do my next clothed figure. I also have some wrinkles I don't like. They are just from pressing and again would come out easily by blocking. I wonder if I can get some sort of board from Homebase that I could make into a big pressing/blocking board, and if I do where on earth am I going to store it.

The only significant problem is the quilting on the face. I feel it needs more but I don't know what sort. Inspiration hasn't caught me up yet. The banner I think will either be parallel (in the loosest sense of the word) lines to emphasize it's movement or a micro stipple. Given I can't decide now I guess it is a good time to work on the hanging sleeves for the triptych of nudes.

APQS Success

Well when Myrna Ficken says she will do something you don't get half measures. I had asked her to get me an allen key so I could tighten up a part on my long arm. Being American the machine doesn't like UK allen keys so I figured that getting an American key was going to make things a lot easier. Well today I received a box. A whole kit of tools for looking after my machine. I didn't even think such a thing existed but Myrna found one. Fantastic. So as soon as I get Miss Baltimore done I can clean the machine and sort out the loose collar.

Miss Baltimore is coming on. I've done almost half of the background now and her second arm. I managed to wiggle things just enough to do the arm without turning the quilt. I am debating risking her boobs by rolling them and saving myself from having to turn the quilt. Really I think that is just lazy and I shouldn't take risks with the quilt but...


I am, or maybe I should be. Karen McTavish in her DVD says that deciding to do any sort of dense quilting is a commitment. Yup she's right. OK I had guessed she was but it is different when you find out first hand. I've done all the quilting I can get at on Miss Baltimore herself. Because her bra is padded I can't roll it onto the take up roller, so I will have to do half the quilt then turn it round. No it isn't the approved method but then I doubt most people has needed to quilt a full bra either. On Miss Baltimore I just need to quilt her left arm and the chair. Of course with my abilities with left and right that could be her right arm :)

Anyway back to the should I be committed. I thought it would be a good idea to use my curly background filler for everything that is not her (well except maybe the banner I haven't decided yet). I tried other fillers but they are either too common or I am not good enough at them. I like my filler and I think it is fairly quick. Or should I say thought. I've been working on the background for over 3 hours and I have got from the top of her head to about mid thigh level. It looks great but at this rate I have anther 2 hours to get to her feet where I can think about turning the quilt. If I decide to do as much as I can before turning, probably a good idea, it is going to be more like 4 hours. Then I can turn, and quilt her arm and the chair, then another 3 hours at least to finish the background. It's going to be a long hard day tomorrow. Still with the guys out and the house to myself I might get there. Either way with a deadline looming I think I probably should be committed.

There is one other small technical problem with this quilt. I don't like the quilting I have done on her face. I've asked for other opinions and we are all in agreement. Something isn't right. However we aren't sure what and of course have no idea how to fix it. Hopefully inspiration will strike over night.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

One arm and one leg aren't moving

Yay not only is the chair done and the quilt on the frame but I have managed to quilt one arm and one leg. I'm so pleased. I've also managed to get the photos off my phone and onto here. I use the phone a lot when I am working on picture quilts. It is hard to see the image when you are concentrating on one aspect of it so throughout the process I take pictures. The camera is very good at showing anything that is really wrong and making the good bits look better.

Sorry the pictures aren't very well laid out, I need to do some more research to find out how to move them around.

So can you tell that the same fabrics make her hair and the chair :) I don't think it is too obvious which is good.
You can see in some of the pictures that there is a guide sheet to help me lay out the pieces. I take a tracing of my master design and then pin it in place over the section I want to work on. It also gives the impression of colouring in an image which can make it easier to see what you are building before it reaches a stage where you can recognise it.

For the letters I tried a slightly different technique. I used steam a seam 2 and built the whole banner on a teflon pressing sheet before applying it to the backing. It worked fine for the banner but I think it would be very fiddly and make a very think quilt if I used it for the whole of the image. The rest of the pieces are held in place with 606 adhesive. It becomes a fusible web when it dries and it can then be ironed in place. I wouldn't trust it to permanently hold anything, but for things like this that will be heavily quilted it is great. It doesn't add anywhere near as much weight as the steam a seam.

Tomorrow I hope I can finish the quilting, but I will have to take it easy. I am concentrating too much and hunching over the machine which is no good for your shoulders and neck. On the bright side if I have to take a lot of breaks I end up reading a lot.

Hair = wood

Well I have a surprise interlude so I thought I would fill it by writing here. I am trying to finish the Miss Baltimore quilt top. All I have left to do is the chair she is leaning on. I thought about trying to redraw her arm but I am not good a drawing so I decided it was easier to just leave it in. Most of the chair can be made from the same fabrics that I used for her hair but I don't have the darker shades I need. Given I painted the hair fabrics anyway I've just gone over one of them with a little more dark brown and I just have to wait for it to dry.

I got a package today which is always a good start to the day. Even better it is the nomex thread I ordered last week, good going given it came from the US. It means that I can now repair the pocket on sir's race suit. I know that in theory I could get away with using standard polyester thread but I don't like taking risks with safety gear. The problem with the polyester is that it would melt in a fire, which would leave the wearer with bits of polyester stuck to them. More importantly it would also leave holes in the suit and that would result in a line of burns. So for the effort of ordering the right thread I can do the job properly. It also means I can replace a zip in another suit, which is far more critical to get right. I suppose I should start hunting around for a suitable zip now.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Textile Arts - Quilting

I spend most of my waking hours quilting. Probably not in the way you know it. I do make some bed quilts but recently most of my work is more arty, it is made to hang on the wall. Today I have been finishing a portrait of one of my cats. It will be in the Sandown quilt show in just under 2 weeks so I was starting to feel the pressure. I've entered 3 quilts into this show, another one is a bed quilt called "Ginko Typography", which is the one in the picture. I really only made this one for myself, it was never supposed to go to a show. I used it to practice with my long arm machine so it doesn't have the greatest quilting on it. I changed my mind about showing it after I took it to a quilters guild show and tell. Everyone seemed to really love it so it hasn't made it into use yet. Unfortunately as I didn't expect it to be a show quilt I didn't put a hanging sleeve in when I put the binding on, so I had to hand sew a 105" sleeve onto the back. Still it is done and ready to go to the show so I feel like I am making progress.

The final quilt for Sandown is for the theme category, "Baltimore Beauties". A Baltimore Beauty is a specific style of quilt but as soon as I heard the theme it said something quite different to me, I saw a 1950's beauty pageant contestant. Finding a source image wasn't easy. There is surprisingly little around and modern women just aren't the shape I was looking for. It was the end of April before I found the look I was after which didn't leave much time to make this quilt. I've still got a little work to do on the top but hopefully I can start the quilting tomorrow.

To save petrol (and to make this all a little harder) I thought it would be a good idea to deliver my entry to the Quilt 2006 competition at the same time as the Sandown entries, so I have to finish that as well before the 27th. I thrive on pressure honest :) This quilt is actually 3 quilts each showing the same image of a nude. They are each in different colours and techniques and show how the image is changed by the technique used to produce it. They are now complete except for hanging sleeves and labels. I will be submitting them mounted on metal rods which I need to cut to size and put fineals on. This a particularly nerve wracking entry as it is my first attempt to get into a juried show. I have no idea how many entries they might have or how many will get through. Realistically it probably won't make it but it is the best piece I have made so far so I am still hoping it might get selected. Even if it doesn't it will still be shown at the NEC just in the pictorial category instead.

Why Blog?

Well for some time now I have said I see no point in blogging, yet here I am doing it. Why?

I blame quilters, in many ways :) Most importantly I met a new quilter at a shop hop and have been having trouble emailing her. She has a blog and suggested I leave comments there as a means of communication. Great except I have to be a blogger member to do that. Though really that was the last straw rather than the germ of the idea. For a while now I have been making textile art, also called quilts (more on this later) and people always want to know what I am working on, what is in which shows and this seems like a good way to keep them all up to date. Also I have issues with my web designer, he means well but somehow looking after my site doesn't often make it to the top of his list of things to do. Maybe I will be better at keeping this updated than he is with my site. :)

Guess this means I am now a blogger, scary.