Saturday, May 31, 2008

What quilt teachers do after class.

Well this one at least goes home and paints her petrol tank. Yup that's what I said. I spent a very enjoyable if tiring day teaching machine quilting to a fun bunch of ladies then drove home to find my car had been making progress without me. Apparently very expensive silicone racing hoses fit and cure my water leak. So now all she need to be properly roadworthy is a petrol tank without a leak. I say properly as she is now fine provided she has less than half a tank of fuel. So I've been putting the last of the primer and the first of the topcoat onto the new old tank. It's looking pretty smart now, and it should be more durable. I wish I had taken some before pictures to share.

The really great thing is I feel much happier for having had a balanced day, to say nothing of getting my car back to drivable condition. Now I guess time for some more quilting.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bonnie MCaffery was right

No, I am not surprised. Well perhaps I am, but by how right not just the fact she was right. It is a lot harder working on a portrait of someone you know well. You notice much more subtle issues that wouldn't have even been issues to a stranger. However I am pleased with the progress I am making with that quilt. It wasn't planned. Heck I can't even say I am thrilled it needs making, it's timing sucks, but we think (if I can pull it off) it should be a really good piece. It's from a picture I took recently of an old friend. I'd got him to model for me for an entirely different quilt, then did some close ups for him. By the end of the shoot we had obviously both got into the swing of it and I got a really good photograph. The photograph then demanded that I immediately make it into a quilt. Of course I have a hundred and one things I should be doing, but this isn't going to leave me alone until I do it. I've got the pattern drawn up and hopefully next week I can get the fabric cut. From past experience they shut up once I have the top made so I should be able to postpone quilting it until I have finished my NEC quilts.

I have made some progress on that front. My small traditional is pinned out working on being flat and square. I will get a picture up at some point, but I've been a bit busy recently.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Response to skinny envelope

Well what do you do when you get a rejection letter? You enter more shows :) I've cut down my number of entries for the NEC this year. There are two reasons for this, the main reason is time. I spent so long preparing for my own show I haven't had time to make as much as I would like for the NEC. Although I have just realised that you can send them work that has been seen before so it will open up my options next year. The other reason is the cost. The four I have entered this year have cost me 102 pounds to enter. I should say this is largely because I want to insure my work while it is at the show, but I do collect from the show so I save on return postage. I think last year attending the show, the dinner and entering quilts came to about 800 pounds, and I really want to keep the cost down this year.

Still I have four pieces going in, one each in traditional large and small. One in pictorial and one in Contemporary small. My innovative piece will have to wait until next year, as will my quilt creation. The one I am most upset at not having the time for is my quilt creation. I love working in three dimensions, but I am trying very hard not to over extend myself, especially as I do want to finish my book. The book is now down to it's last few chapters. My students quilts look stunning and swapping has worked well. I am really looking forward to photographing all the finished quilt and their owners. We are hoping to have a show of the quilts from the book at Patchwork Corner, so watch this space for details.

Skinny Envelope

I think it is a sign you've entered too many shows when you can tell from the feel of the envelope what it says. When it obviously only has one sheet of paper, it's thanks but no thanks. So my piecewon't be hanging at the Summer Exhibition this year. Rest assured I will be trying again next year. Hopefully encouraging some more quilters to try as well. Quality is important, but I am sure that quantity will improve the chances of a quilt being hung too.

Hopefully this year I wil have a bit more thinking time :) Now what am I going to do with the second Nude with Rope? It's on a rigid frame so it will be a pain to ship anywhere, but it is striking, and I would like to see it displayed somewhere. Of course that does assume it hasn't got damaged during the judging process. I suppose I could cut it off the frame and bind it for quilt shows.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's on the frame?

After a string of customer quilts I finally have one of mine on the frame. Having had a delivery of five and a half Heinlein books and two and a half Spider Robinson books I have an urge to quilt. Anything intricate will do. I have no idea how long I've been working on this, maybe 15% of the book Friday, but probably too long. I ache, but I've enjoyed it and I think the quilt is looking pretty good. Now if I could only think of a name for it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Malvern - Sunday

Sorry for the delay in getting the photographs up from yesterday. I've just been running around like a loony today. It was lovely to get the chance to catch up with so many people I didn't expect to see for another month. If I seemed to ignore you or not recognize you I am very sorry. I am getting better at identifying people but I've still got a long way to go.

I was thrilled to discover that the quilt is awarded two rosettes, so one can go to the quilter and one to the piecer. It was amazing to get an award for someone else's quilt, which I hadn't even entered. Certainly one of those very special landmark moments. It was also very good to win Frans award. I had really hoped I would be able to get my name on it, she was a very important influence even though I didn't know her long. Now I have to try for the Sandown one too. I also had an interesting revelation. I've won three awards for longarm quilting (I think ) and all the quilts have very similar quilting. Even more strangely, I don't feel they are that special. The first was, at the time it was by far the best quilting I had done. This one the quilting is exactly what the quilt wanted, but it's very hard to actually see. You may have noticed that none of the pictures really show the quilting. Maybe I just don't understand how the judges look at things. Whilst I don't entirely undrstand, I would be very pleased to think they choose the quilt with the most sympathetic or appropriate quilting, almost regardless of complexity.

For me there was one quilt that really stood out to me. It won the hand quilting award. I didn't have the guide with me when I saw it so I just remembered it for later. The I was distracted by the awards and found out who's quilt it was. Gwenfai Rees Griffiths. Ah! That explains a lot. Now at risk of causing offence (and I really don't intend any) what I really loved was that at a distance I couldn't tell it was hand sewn. The stitches are tiny with make a really strong quilting line, something I love about machine work. I am quite pleased I didn't photograph it though, as I would like to design a machine pattern that has the feel I remember from it. I don't know how successful I will be but I'll be interested to see what I come up with.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I've finally had some time to put together the other top I cut out a while ago. It's a fun quilt that one day will end up on my bed. After it has finished working. You may notice it isn't the normal aspect ratio for a quilt. I decided that I really need wider quilts with less length for our king size bed, so this one has been designed for that. It could easily be made a more traditional shape if needed.

I fell in love with this fabric as soon as I saw it but found it impossible to buy in the UK and hard in the US. So this is the result of a lot of searching, and I think I have enough left for a second quilt when I decide what else I would like to do with it. I don;t know if you will be able to see in the photograph but there are some fantastic space craft in the small print with a black background. I especially like the bus. The range is called Alien Invasion by Amy Bradley Designs, and was produced by Moda fabrics.

I guess it's time to put the border on now. I think I have just enough of the sashing fabric left.

Friday, May 16, 2008

What I've got in the pipeline.

I thought it was time to show one of the projects that has been taking up a lot of my time recently. I am sure this doesn't look like a lot of work but there have been a lot of hours in the design and drawing stage. It is a bed size wholecloth, which will have trapunto and a lot of free hand quilting. It's going to be very strange working on something with this much marking. I would show you the whole pattern but the picture of it didn't come out well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Power of negative thinking?

So last night I went out for dinner with friends, and it was very nice. During the course of the meal they suggested we needed a reason to go out for sushi. "Well" I say, "I usually go to sushi Joe when I win an award at a quilt show, but that will be at least a month". I entirely forgot that one of my customers. Barbara Wharton, had entered our quilt at Malvern this weekend. I didn't bother to enter anything, I don't do well at Malvern, except of course when I win the Longarm award! So apparently I will be in Malvern on Sunday, if anyone is going I will see you there. I guess that would count for sushi, but I really don't have time or money right now for that, so we made to with chicken instead.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another good weekend.

Well this may not sound like fun, but I loved it. I spent Saturday at the Bristol Comics Expo, and Sunday treating rust on a petrol tank. Yes really, and yes I did enjoy it.

I would admit that comics shows didn't sound very exciting but when an old friend is showing the first pages of a new story you kinda have to go. If it hadn't been such an appealing story I might have been able to resist, and that would have been a great shame. The people at the event were lovely, it was very relaxed and friendly. One of the highlights of the day was a talk by an independent comics publisher. I only ended up there by accident, I was looking for a cash machine, but I am glad it happened. It was interesting to hear from another small business in what I thought was a very different industry. They seem to face all the same problems, and all the same triumphs. They found suppliers who just don't bother to even give a quote on doing work. They struggle to find any kind of a profit margin and marketing is hard work with very little rewards. They also mentioned that they had never really intended to go into the business, it just sort of happened. Sounds terribly familiar.

My main reason for going, other than just supporting Cy, was to buy Layer Zero. Mainly to get the free pictures from Cancertown, but (as with everything about this event) Layer Zero is pretty good. Remember This Moment, if a joint CyNic story based on a magic trick, and yes it works. While we were there I was able to get the Cancertown Pages signed by three of the team of four. Not bad in one hit. As a long time fan, I was really pleased to finally meet Bryan Talbot, who is very friendly and helpful. I am now the proud owner of a signed copy of Alice in Sunderland.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Garden Globes

This is a shop sample at Patchwork Corner. It is one of the two quilts I quilted over last weekend. It is made with the Floragraphix range of fabrics from In the Beginning. It's an amazing range, which I will be making a quilt from as soon as I have time. The quilt thoough was a challenge to quilt. I didn't feel I could just use and all over. It's didn't seem to add anything to the piecing. I also know that Jenny likes her quilting to match the fabrics in colour, and with this one there are a lot of colours to match. I decided the only way for ward was to match each colour in it. So there are four colours of quilting in this one. You can see that better in the picture of the back (I usually match my bobbin to my top thread). Rather frustratingly the quilting doesn't show a lot on the front, but that does seem to be the way when i put in this much work. The more time you put in the less there is to show for it.

Hopefully the quilt be be bound and on display at Malvern in just over a weeks time. It will be on the Patchwork Corner stand and if you would like to make your own version there will be kits available. If you are really keen you could even to get me to quilt it just like this one.

When I quilt I often listen to audio books, and I have found cusomers like to know what book was involved in their quilt. This one was Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wanted - Pattern testers

  • Do you like being the first to try a new pattern?
  • Do you love finding a designers mistakes?
  • Do you enjoy the challenge of badly written and occasionally missing instructions?
  • Do you love working just for the satisfaction of a job well done?
  • Can you deal with all that and communicate the problems back to the designer?

If so you could be the person I am looking for. I have several patterns I am working on at the moment, and I am running low on people to test them. Besides I think that over time people become used to your way of describing things and may not pick up something that would be confusing to others. I can't afford to pay you, but I will happily credit testers. If you think this is something you would like to have a go at, please get in touch either via the comments or the contact link to the right.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Another picture showing the bugs

I realised you can't see the bugs in that picture, so try this one. It is big, but when I scale it doesn't it is hard to see the pattern. Strange, given how large and loud the pattern is. I thought that in the last picture it looked almost floral, but those big 'roses' are really cartoon snakes.

You will have to excuse how lumpy the quilt is looking, the cats were helping by playing under it which is why I hung it up. It's a pretty big quilt, hanging down over both sides of a king size bed.

Feeling smug, and rather tired.

I feel like I've had a holiday and that I have been stunningly productive. I'm not even sure how you can feel both things at the same time, but I am very pleased I do. As you can see I've got the side panels on my bugs quilt. I was hoping to get that final two borders on but it wasn't to be tonight. I think this will be the first of my patterns for big kids. I've been thinking a lot about patterns for big quilts using novelty prints, I know too many big people who want silly quilts. It also struck me that some of the same patterns might work really well with other big print fabrics. So I will test them in my loud prints then go hunting some more traditional fabrics to try them in. I will make sure the quilts have a smaller option too for the real kids out there.

Today I've also managed to write two more chapters of my book. It is a bit of a cheat, I am into quite short chapters now, but still it sounds good. I hope my students will enjoy it, even though I spotted a typo just after printing 20 copies. A typo that my spell checker managed to miss even though I am certain it isn't a valid word.

So over the weekend, while having my relaxing time off I've,
  • made most of a king size quilt top
  • quilted two customer quilts
  • written a requirements list
  • made a necklace
  • cut a king size quilt top
  • sewn half a quilt as you go quilt
  • written a pattern for a quilt
  • written two chapters of my book
  • listened to three audio books
  • watched half a series of The Equalizer
  • utterly failed to eat fish and chips (not for want of trying)
and perhaps most importantly, had fun. Can you see why I can't understand why it felt like a holiday?

I have to share this link. It was sent to a mail list I am on, and I just love this artistic use for old technology.

For those interested, this weekends racing was largely a washout, but Trogdor did manage a new fastest ET. We think it has a 13 second run in it somewhere, we just have to find it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bugs everywhere

I've been writing up a pattern for novelty quilts today, and it inspired me to use this fabric. I just loved the bugs and lizards, and I like the idea of a couple of novelty bed quilts. This will be the center panel of a large double bed quilt. I want to tone things down a little bit on the sides. It isn't clear in the picture just how bright these fabrics are. Think real primary colours. Fro the sides I think I will just some black fabric with bright paw prints on it. I also have a little of the green and blue fabrics left which should contrast well with the black.

I will produce this as a pattern for a single bed quilt and possible a child's lap/floor quilt too. I think it would be great for all sorts of novelty prints. Once I have this one done I think I will start on my aliens quilt, which will be a similar that will use panels as well as the large print fabrics. That will be a somewhat more subdued quilt. The fabric isn't anywhere near as bright.


I've been quilting up a storm recently. I've had a lot of interesting quilts to do for customers which has been great. However it hasn't left a lot of time for anything else. I did manage to get some time off on Thursday to go bowling for my birthday. I also have a wonderful lot of new books and an IOU for a new computer.

I am currently home alone as it is a racking weekend, so I've been going for quick easy food. it's turned out to be less easy than I had thought. I wanted some fresh baked (well part baked) rolls and thought that while the oven was on I might as well make some cookies. The rolls went in first on the top shelf and needed 8 minutes, the cookies went in a few minutes later on a lower shelf, and needed 12 minutes. So how did the cookies manage to singe before the rolls were done?

I also had one of those revelations. I've ha d a bobbin winder for the longarm almost as long as I have had the machine. Every time I want a bobbin I have to walk to the other room wind it then go back. Well why don't I take the winder into the same room as the longarm? Stupidity. I will now go back to my quilting, taking the winder with me.