Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday project off the frame

I decided to take a bit of a holiday this year. Of course I wasn't going to stop quilting, that's not fun, but I did do unpaid work and I've tried to stay off the computer. I'm not sure why work I don't bill isn't work but that's how my head sees it so it works for me. The quilt is a sample for a new pattern. The top was made for me a while ago and has been waiting for me to have time to quilt it. I have now accepted I will never have time so must just fit things in as I can. I won't post the whole quilt until the patter is printed but these pictures give you an idea of the quilting. I felt it took a surprisingly long time but I guess it is quite densely quilted.

For the first time I decided to count how many bobbins of thread I used. I wondered after reading another quilters updates. She recently uced over 70 on a quilt a little bigger than this one. That sounded like a lot to me, but I had no real idea how many. Well I used 19 bobbins, prewound masterpiece. Bear in mind I think this quilt has quite a lot of quilting. The one the other quilter did may have had 1.5 times the area of mine but even so she has done twice as much quilting! That really is a lot.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sewing and snow.

Well I know a lot of people don't like this weather but I love it. Especially [as we had to go shopping today. I was not looking forward to the crowds. The snow solved my problem, Watford has been busy, but more like a summer weekday than a Chrismas weekend. A massive improvement. All the present shopping is now done and we are slowly making our way home.

I've been quiet the last week as I've been quilting as much as possible. I've got 9 done despite my machine having a strop. There was a bright side to even that. i got chatting to a new friend who turned out to be an APQS service engineer, and a very nice lady. I still have a lot of quilts to do but I can move in the house now. The quilt in the picture belongs to one of my students. I like her quilts as they as well behaved, but this one had quite challenging instructions. There were areas I had to avoid. That left me with some very odd shapes to quilt. The back shows quite clearly what I came up with. We were both pleased with the result.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pretty winter scenes

And cheap DVD are what keep me going. The tree isn't snowy, it's just a very heavy frost. I toook the picture about 3pm. The sunset I saw at Toddington services. I think it was a bit too cold for my phone but hopefully you get the idea. It really was very pretty. Now I am sitting in a car park waiting for the quilters to arrive. I made decent time despite accidents and heavy traffic. Fortunately I didn't bring the van as the car park has a height restriction on it. It does mean there isn't much I can do except blog and watch a movie.

Can you tell what it is yet?

This was my Thursday afternoon project. Lots of cutting. Hopefully this week I will get a fair amount of it sewn. It is my second sample of speed 5. It is rare for me to have them ready this early in the year but this one has really grabbed me. I can see so many possibilities for it.

I have been working steadily on customer quilts and finally decided that if I am going to be getting this much work I have to have more storage space (20 quilts take up a lot of space) so today I rented a bigger storage unit. To give the business more room we are going to evict more furniture. Sofas take up a lot of room but don't add much so they have to leave.

Saturday I had a great class. I was teaching machine quilting, which I love so it's likely to be a good day. I got really lucky this time and got a whole class of students who really took to it and allowed me to cover far more than I usually get through. I'm still grinning and I hope the students are too as it will mean they are more relaxed and will quilt better. Keep in touch ladies, I want to see where you got from here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Speed 4 and a tidy store room

Last things first one of my students from last weeks speed quilt class brought her finished quilt in today. The pictures show the front and the back or the quilt. It's come out well hasn't it? The other picture shows the shelves in my storage room. I went fabric shopping at the weekend and to make space for the new fabric I had to tidy up. I have had to evict some of my wadding to the storage unit but now I can get to my fabric. I love the way shelves full of fabric look.

Monday the weather held off enough for me to get to my next frame quilting lesson. Two more ladies have discovered the joy of freehand quilting. I love spreading the fun of quilting.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Darn and other words

There is something in the air and my computer has caught it. My main desktop machine has developed an interesting and very annoying fault, probably hardware but it's going to take us a while to find it and get it fixed. I haven't lost any data as that is all on the server, but I am stuck with trying to use the laptop for everything. I will be very slow with email and everything computer related until we have my machine up and running so if you have an urgent request please please call me. My number is on my pencils and my website.

I guess this gives me a good excuse to work on my next speed 5 quilt though. I made the first one on Thursday and I am really very pleased with it. I had been wondering when I could get to it's big brother and it seems the answer is now.

I am aware I have a few people waiting for things via email and I will get to them as soon as I can.

UPDATE - looks like a dead machine. I was hoping it was just the memory, but no such luck. Also internet access is being quite variable too. Yay, watch my universe fall apart.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What year is it?

I'll admit I've been busy, and yes keeping track of the day of the week can be a challenge to me. I will even admit to getting the year confused when it first changes, but right now I am fairly sure it is 2010. This was part of my change this evening. It is one of the new olympic coins. I always look at my coins to see if I've got an interesting one, or a really new one. This is the first time I've ever had next years though. Anyone know if the Royal Mint have actually released next years coins already?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Speed quilts

Here are some of today's motley bunch. We had a day workshop at Patchwork Corner of speed quilts. The students can choose any of the speed quilts to work on and today we had someone working on each of the four patterns I have made so far. Unfortunately we had several students who couldn't make the class and one who had to leave early, but as you can see a good amount of work got done. Hopefully all these quilts will be done soon, as many of them will be heading to know homes very soon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I'm now on the train heading for London so I've had time to look through my pictures. These are the ones I think will come out OK withouit editing. Bear in mind they were taken and viewed on my phone so they may be out of focus. I arrived in Jersey 7.10pm on Friday and landed in the dark. It was a very cool approach. We came in over a sandy beach and suddenly found a runway. One moment you are a long way off the ground then the runway suddenly comes up to meet you, it's on a cliff. It was fun to be met by someone with one of those boards with my name on it but being dark I didn't get to see much as I was driven to my hotel.

Next morning it was an early start to get to the hall for the first workshop, Speed Quilts. The class went well but by the time it was over the sun was setting. Undetered we took a very scenic route back to me hotel. Wow! Lots of little lanes, bays, cliffs and a great sunset. When I get to go back I will have to take a proper camera there is so much quilt potential. For the evening I was taken to dinner at a good and generous Italian restaurant then on to a little country pub. I wonder what the regulars made of our impromptu quilting lesson on the scores blackboard.

Tonight on the way to the airport tonight after class I got another quick tour of a different part of the island. I'm sorry I will have to rely on the natives to comment and tell me what I have pictures of the names were coming too thick and fast for me. We did drive around to the bay under the runway, and it really is magnificent. I had dinner next to a light house and a radio tower which you can stay in. Despite the restaurant being shut we had a good dinner, huge portions of scampi and chips. The island seems to be a very generous place and in general places want you to feel welcome. The hotel staff were very much that way and worked hard to make the guests as happy as possible. I feel very lucky to have a job that takes me to places like this and lets me work with such keen and friendly people. The only problem is I have laughed so much this weekend my throat is sore.

I hope you all get your quilts finished. Don't forget to send me the pictures.

Art quilts by numbers - Jersey

I am now sitting in Jersey airport waiting for my flight home. I'm looking forward to getting home, but I'm sad to be leaving it's been a great weekend, and I would love to spend some time exploring the island. I just wanted to share some of the quilts made in todays workshop. I think they are all coming along well. Hopefully I will get to share pictures of them finished before too long. I'll share some pictures of the island when I get home as I need to go to my gate now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

So far the magic is working

It confuses people when you say you don't know where you are staying or working, but it seems to be working out OK. I met a cool young couple on the plane. She has just got interested in patchwork so we got talking. I hope she will have a lot of fun with patchwork. While I was collecting my bag I got talking to another lady. I guess it's to be expected in the Phoenix coat. Turned out her friend was talking to my lift ;) I suppose that happens a lot with a smaller population.

The service here is exceptional. The staff just can't do enough for you. I've been really impressed with the lass in the bar. The receptionist told me there was a cocktail bar so after dinner I headed in to try it. Unfortunately they are out of stock of many drinks, and there was already another pair in there asking for cocktails. The poor Iolanda is working her socks off, and actually doing a great job. She has just supplied me with peanuts, and I don't want salt in my keyboard so I am going to stop typing.

Gatwick - a cunning plan

It never fails to amaze me how long travel takes, but that is how it is. I've learned that I not only don't like to be late I don't like to be rushed, so I work out how long I need and add some. Today that meant no lunch, but I figured I would have lots of time to eat at the airport. Mostly that worked. Security did take longer than I expected but I still had time to eat. I al;so know that cheap or good food is not an option but I can usually find something. By the time I was looking for crisps in WHSmiths I knew it was bad. Then I spotted their sandwiches, could I finally get lucky? What could go wrong with tuna and cucumber? Opening the pack and finding an odd smell, which I couldn't place till I took a bite, onion. I think the sandwich would be more accurately described and cucumber and onion, there is very little evidence of tuna. I hope the hotel is still serving food when I arrive.

I'd better get to the gate and find my plane. It seems nearly every flight is struggling to board because of late passengers. I don't want to be the next one.

She's home!

Just a quicky as I am trying to get ready to fly to Jersey. Nude with Rope made it home this morning. I had to share the news as I know a lot of you have been sending me good luck to get her back. She also had my judging sheets for both quilts. In brief, my design and colours are good, but my stitches, tension, accuracy and bindings need work.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quilting retreat in France

I have been booked to teach in the South West of France next September. It is the 11-17th September and we will be making wholecloth quilts. I think it will be a lot of fun as I already know some of the students who will be there. There are only 8 places so if you are interested you probably want to book sooner rather than later. It is run by Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm worried, I think I have things prepared for tomorrow. That can only mean I've forgotten something. Probably something really big and important. Oh well, maybe it will come to me soon.

Yesterday was a fun day. I was giving a private lesson to a lady who has just got a frame quilting system. She has a Husqvarna megaquilter on an inspira frame. They are a giggle. The men who put it up for her decided they might as well put it up full length to save effort later so she has 10' to play with too. We spent the whole day playing, I mean working very very hard, oh yes. I think I managed to pass on lots of my bad habits and teach her some of the tricks I have picked up. I also think she is hooked. I can't tell you how great it feels to help someone else find the joy of stand up quilting. It's just magic.

Today I finally managed to get hold of customs, and I hope sort out the last of the issues with my quilts coming home. If all goes well Nude with Rope should be released soon and back with me. I can't wait. I'm getting used to having Bad Rain as my backdrop when I do a talk but so many people want to see Nude with Rope I hate not having her with me.

After another trip to the dentist, it's what I do these days if I haven't got a booking to be elsewhwere, I came in and got some more writing and typesetting done. There are a few ladies working through what will be my fourth book, another sampler quilt and I've got their next sections printed ready for tomorrow and Thursday. I also have the next section of my first mystery quilt ready to go. I am amazed at how much more work a mystery quilt takes compared to any other pattern. It is fun though. Especially as tet has already done it to test it out so we can debate which pieces to give the students at each stage. I hope that all the testing will produce better patterns or at least ones with non critical errors.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sprat and Winkle

Today I can share some pictures with you from yesterdays workshop for Sprat and Winkle quilt group. You know those days when before lunch you wonder if anyone should have got up? Well it was one of those. Fortunately the group, regulars and visitors alike had a great sense of humour.

I feel that any day that starts with getting up early is already going wrong and yes for me 7am is early, too early. It wasn't good to be greeted by rain and very poor visibility for a long motorway drive, but a booking is a book so you do your best. I remembered to by fuel and headed off.
The first stage of the journey took a lot longer than I expected so I decided to skip my coffee stop and just head on. Of course from there on I made great time so I arrived at the hall about an hour early. It was lucky I had been there before as the sat nav was quite a distance out. Oh well, time to have a nap and read a bit.

The class was due to start at 10, but by 9.30 no one had arrived. I guess I am just used to groups who like to be early, there was still plenty of time to get set up. 9.40 I did start to wonder and phoned a frined. Just as well, I was at the wrong hall. While she didn't have the address of where I needed to be she did give me great directions and 10 minutes later I was at the right hall.

I like to be early I get flustered when I am tight on time, but very quickly I realised I wasn't the only one having one of those days. People kept heading back out of the hall looking for things. Legs, feet, leads, leaves and whole sewing kits had gone walk about. Very strange. On the birght side the kitchen was fully functional and tea, coffee, hot chocolate! and cake were very quickly suppled.

In the housekeeping section I thought I would mention what to do in the event of fire or sewing through your finger, and I did ask people to be extra careful as we seemed to be having one of those days. Initially the workshop went well. We manged to find enough equipment to get everyone started at the same place and the same time amd nearly everyone gave free motion quilting a go. Unfortunately I turned out to be right, it was that sort of a day and a lady did manage to sew through her finger. Of course that isn't normally a big problem, but as you might expect for this tale, the needle broke. Still not a huge problem with a calm patient and several practical and medical people aroud. Until we noticed it had managed to go right the way through. One for the professionals, but the closest A&E was closed so off she went to the next closest, thanks to her husband who came and picked her up leaving the reast of the class to carry on.

The number of strange incidents we had was just crazy, I'm used to broken needles and grubby irons but the sewing the machine foot to the work was a new on me. Machines did random things and had all manner of tantrums. Somehow everyone managed to laugh at their problems and the quilts came on well. The student who had the day trip to hospital did make it back for the rest of the class and the one who threatened to die trying something didn't.

To round off the day I managed to over charge one student twice. Once is pretty poor, but twice? Fortunately she told me and we did eventually get it all sorted out. However, my next stop after the class was to return another customers money, I overcharged her last time I was in the area. I think I will have to claim it is somthing in the land there that makes everything a little strange, but while this might sound like a bit of a disaster, it was actually quite fun and a lot of work was achieved. Next time I am there I will make sure I go well prepared for any eventuality.

Tomorrow is a private frame quitling lesson. I'm hoping it will be somewhat less eventful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Art Quilts by Numbers

If you are now regretting missing the class this week at Patchwork Corner, you're in luck. As well as the class in Jersey in a couple of weeks I am also teaching it at the Nimble Thimble. I've just cheacked and there are still a couple of places. I even have a few kits on hand for those who haven't got time to find the fabrics. So stop regretting and come and play. Contact the shop, or group directly for bookings.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rhapsody update

It's been a while since I last showed you this quilt. I didn't work on it over summer thinking that I would get back to it in class. However this term my classes have been full and quite demanding so I wasn't able to work on the quilt. When I was looking after the shop last Thursday I decided it was time to get it out again. As you can see it's getting quit large. I am finding it easier and quicker as I go along. I am already thinking about the next one.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Saturdays class

I managed to catch pictures of several of my students work on Saturday, and I just had to share. I was teaching Art Quilts by Numbers at Patchwork Corner, to one of my most geographically diverse groups yet. It was fun having some new faces and watching them explore the techniques, shop, and cakes. The pictures are all of unfinished pieces, but you can see they were all coming along well. One of the roses is showing the quilting really well. Once it has been rinsed the quilting will sink in so it's nice to be able to appreciate the work that has been done.

As you may have gathered I've been busy recently but not on anything really blogable. I am trying to do some work on my projects, but I have a lot of customer work I need to finish for Christmas. Hopefully I will get that done sooner rather than later.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vulcan XH558

You may be aware that I am quite fond of vehicles. OK maybe obsessed would be the right word, and Vulcan bombers are a particular favourite of mine. Whenever I've had spare cash I've been trying to support the Vulcan to the Sky trust to restore, and fly Vulcan XH558. She is now the only airworthy Vulcan left. She has been doing displays and has been much enjoyed by many people. She is now struggling. She has been hit with a cash flow crisis.

The staff at the trust have been given a months notice and at the end of October the Board of Trustees will have to make a decision on her fate. They haven't got the funds now to keep trading till next year, when she has all her bookings to attend displays. There is a risk this last flying Vulcan may have to be sold to another country to keep her flying. I think it would be a great shame to lose this piece of our history. So if you've been thinking about supporting her in the past, this is the moment. There is merchandise you  can buy in the online shop, or you can just donate her some raw cash. If, like many I suspect, you would like to support her but don't have the spare money, how about passing on the message that she needs a hand? It costs you nothing and could make all the difference. As they say, she is the peoples aircraft, only people can keep her in the country and flying.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Victorian Steampunk

Well as promised here is a bit more information and a lot more pictures of my dress. The name came from Susan Briscoe. It's what she said when she blogged about it and it was all I could think of when I needed a name urgently for a quilt show. It often happens that someone else will name my work for me. Some pieces know their name before I even start them, but others like this wait until someone tells me what it is. Lets start with the notes I made when I was first thinking about this project.

For the evening wear I fancy a victorian outfit. It's simple and I know the drill. I think I can get the patterns flat enough to make it pretty simple to quilt as well.

3rd Feb 2010

I've been giving this some more thought. I think I will aim for a heavily quilted, heavily boned bodice. A fan back skirt and a butterfly bustle/train.

What if I make the train of two layers of organza quilted together? The quilting should show well, the train would be light and it won't be too hot. I have to model this in August under hot lights.

After some investigation I think I have a short list of patterns. I don't think I can face a bustle if I have to make a quick change. So instead I will go for something later. Having had a good look on the Truly Victorian web site that's quite handy. The bodice I want to work from is from this later period and won't fit over a bustle either.

I want a nice front panel to play with but still have some fullness. I love TV294, it's easy to make and comfortable to wear but the drapes break up my quilting space. TV297 is nice too, and has a flat front
panel, but I can't work on the sides much with that one. I think the simple walking skirt TV291 is probably my best bet. Plain and simple, just ready for me to play with it.

So that was my cunning plan and it seemed reasonable. Even better these were all patterns I already owned, and I could lay my hands on them at once. I did and put them in a safe place ready to use. I got on and ordered the parts I would need for the outfit from Vena Cava. When those arrived I did try to put them in the same safe place as the patterns.... yes you guessed it, they had vanished.

It wasn't ideal but at least I could get more and I know Truly Victorian are pretty good at getting things shipped promptly. I placed the order and started work on the fabric for the train. I had a fair idea how each of the patterns would work and I knew that my goal was to make as many of the pieces up as possible while keeping them flat. If I can reduce the number of seams I increase the quilting space. That meant I was pretty sure I could just make one huge piece for the train then pleat it into shape when the pattern arrived. I decided to make the train the maximum width I could fit on the frame and a bit over 10' long. I settled on three layers of organza, so the train would meet the definition of a quilt, "three layers held together with stitch'. The outer layers are silver and the middle, wadding, is black.

Of course the organza wasn't very wide, only 45" so I needed to join it to get the full width of the train. On the other hand I really didn't want to see a seam in it. What to do? Something crazy of course. I decided to just overlap it slightly and hope for the best. I knew it would be structural after quilting but I wasn't sure how it would behave on the frame. Put simply, it didntt behave at all. It wriggled and slipped, and was a huge pain. It didn't seem to matter how many pins I put in it, it still shifted. I just had to fight it all the way to keep my three layers together. maybe I should have tried 505 spray, but I have a feeling that would have just stuck to the machine as well and made matters even worse.

I started quilting from the end of the train. I used black thread and put in a feather with curved ends, largely guessing the shape I would end up cutting the train. I steadily added more feathers, changing the thread ever so often to lighter shades of grey. The pleated area of the train is quilted with my curls in a thread that almost matches the organza. A lot of people who have seen it thought it was just a textured fabric, but no. It's plain flat organza and a lot of quilting. The train alone would be about the size of a kingsize bed quilt. It turns out that quilting organza isn't too much of a problem apart from the slipping. It's something I will probably do again but perhaps not such a large piece.

By now the patterns had arrived. Of course as soon as they did I found the originals, and I can't see how I missed them before still it means I have to make a lot more mistakes to get stuck right and that is always good. The bodice and skirt are made from cotton sateen, with Dream Orient as the wadding. The wadding was a very lucky find from Asding. It has a lovely drape and is very light. I did change my mind about which patterns to use. I decided that the skirt needed to give the train some support, so I needed to have more fabric in the back. I felt that TV297 would do the job without having too many panels, or hiding my quilting or needing a bustle. I also decided to extend the back hemline. I would normally have worn petticoats with this type of outfit, but knowing I had to make a fairly quick change that wasn't an option so the skirt had to do all the work itself.

I loaded the longarm with the lining of the skirt and the wadding then rough cut the large bottom panels of the skirt from cotton sateen. Before cutting the sateen I joined the two pattern pieces together anc cut them as one piece. It wasn't as efficient and it didn't give such good grain lines, but it gave more quilting space.I made sure they were quite a bit oversize to allow for the quilting drawing them in. I quilted one then traced the design onto washaway stabiliser so I could copy it onto the other panel. The upper panels of the skirt I made in a similar way as with the lower panels I removed what seams I could before quilting, but with them I used a smaller allover pattern that didn't need any marking.

The front panel was cut not only from sateen but also from organza. This I cut even more oversize to have plenty to pin into place. This worked well as it did indeed slide well on top  of the sateen. The quilting design I drew onto washaway stabiliser before trying to quilt it because I wanted it to be mostly symeterical. I think the stabiliser also helped hold the organza steady.

The bodice I decided to just quilt yardage for. There were too many seams to do anything really clever (simply) and I was thinking I would have to play with the fit too. The only exception was the center front panel which is made in the same way as the one on the skirt. The fun really started when I tested the bodice pattern. I had one that I have used before so I tried that as the starting point for this one. It wasn't the shape I wanted but that was easy to change if it fitted. Fortunately I made up a test. I put on the sample and was initially very please. It was looking good. Until I moved my arms, one comedy hulk moment as all the seams in the back gave way. OK so I have put on some weight, time for a new pattern.

I remeasured and made a new test. Well I didn't burst the seams this time but it still didn't fit. The new one was too big in front and tight at the back (and I had already added more to the back than the front). Third time lucky. I used the original front with a recut back, putting all the extra material over my shoulders and upper back, perfect (if a little scary, this is what quilting does for you).

Having six cats and a lot of delicate fabric I headed out to my motorhome to build the ensemble. It seemed easier that way. So all the construction was done with the Singer 99, a hand cranked sewing machine. To be honest I think it made things easier if slower. It's the first time I have sewn in that many metal bones without breaking a single needle. Of course it is also more authentic to the outfit, though it's one of the few things that is. As I wouldn't have time to get into a corset for the fashion show I knew the bodice had to do it's best to do that job too, but still be quick to put on and not have visible lacing. I settled for two lines of hooks and eyes, one on each side of the center front panel. I could have just used one set, but then that side of the bodice would have sat differently and the fastening would have been more obvious. It was twice the work both in construction and dressing but I think it was worth the effort. The silver designs on the back of the bodice are premade panels that were added after the rest of the construction.

For the show I wore the outfit with a top hat (yes I know, not period) a cane and a brooch to hold the neck of the bodice closed. The cane was more than just a prop. To try and look a little more elegant I was wearing rather high heels, which I don't do often, and so I am not very good at it. The cane greatly reduces the chance of me tripping over my own feet :) The hat was largely to give me a quick way to get my hair up, again knowing how much I had to change in a very short time, I was looking for any short cut I could find.

I think that is about everything. If you do have any questions feel free to leave a comment asking. There is a DVD including footage of the fashion show being given away with British Patchwork and Quilting this month. You have to send off for it but it should give you a feel for all the items in the show. There is also footage on there of the dueling longarms, something not to be missed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's great to have friends.

Remember earlier I commented that the train on my dress wasn't propperly displayed? Well Mary Kay Davis from The Quilt Show has found a white glove lady to fix it for me. Doesn't it look better now? I am so greateful to both of them. It's a little thing, but it means a lot to me. Sending the picture to prove it was fixed was just the icing on the cake. I wonder if there is anything the team at The Quilt Show can't do?

Victorian Steampunk - that dress

Well the winners are up from Pacific International Quilt Festival.  One of my friends in the US has sent some pictures through. I am thrilled with my blue ribbon, it is a slightly odd award. It's best Amateur Entry, What's odd is being an amateur, but in fashion and dress making I am by their rules and my profession so there you are. It still feels strange though, it's been a while since I entered any show as an amature, but then this is the first time I have entered a garment let alone three pieces.

I have spotted that the train isn't on quite right and I am hoping I cn get word back to the show so that by the time most of the people see it it will be correct. I am touched that they have taken care to protect the train fron the floor, it's a nice touch that they might not have bothered with and that sort of care does speak very well of them.

I had hoped to have time to write a description of how the dress came together before the show but I just haven't had time. I will try and get it up Sunday as that is the next day I have time at home, so please check back then if you would like to know more about it.

I've also heard a rumour that both Tet and I are in British Patchwork and Quilting Magazine this month. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but it sounds like I need to. I think this will also be the issue where you can send off for a DVD of hilights of the Festival including coverage of the fashion show and the dueling longarms.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lunch, tea and dinner all in different towns

At least I hope I will be home for dinner, but right now it's tea time in Leicester. Yup I am having a day off for a change, other than the inspirtion we found while flying.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Whups, Norfolk part 2

I lied. The picture of students on the last post were Dayspring quilters who were making Speed Quilts on Friday. I blame the small screen for the error. This post has the Norfolk Quilters making Art Quilts.

Pictures from Norfolk

I've got a few minutes before tonights talk so I thought I would share some pictures from the weekend. These are all from the Norfolk Quilters AGM. As you can see the hall had a great stage so I was able to set up all my quilt stands as well as my garments. A high stage also helps a lot when it comes to holding up quilts, as I am a bit short. Tet even managed to get a picture of me in action so to speak.

On the Sunday we did Art Quilts by Numbers, and the students all did really well. I think everyone was at least ready to quilt by the end of the day. Very well done ladies. I am now in the New Forest, give or take. It's a lovely day and once I got past the M25 the traffic was good too. I realised on the way here that I have been through at least 7 counties in the last 24hours. Not bad going, and those are just the ones I remember seeing. I really like the county signs on the motorway it makes me feel I am actually getting somewhere.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Norfolk here we come.

Tonight I am having an early night as tomorrow will be an early start. I am headed deep into Norfolk for tomorrows booking. To make sure I get some sleep I am stopped at the services near Stanstead. I had considered heading on further, but the exit I need is closed and the facilities here are good. I will cope with the early start.

Now I have a plea for assistance. As you may know I use a Singer 99 in my van. It is a hand crank sewing machine so it takes no power and it's fairly small too. I was given mine a few years ago by a friend, who has now decided he wants it back. So I need to replace it. I just tried buying one on Ebay, I had to pay rather more than I should have to get it and it has been damaged in transit. Now I am looking for another. Do any of you (in the UK ideally) know of one that might be interested in a new home? I really do want another Singer 99, it is npot only perfect for what I do but I now have the feet and throat plates for it. Any leads would be appreciated, those near me or this months bookings would be great. Ah the kettle is boiling, tea then bed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What have I been up to? Everything!

Or maybe it just feels that way.Who knows? I came back from Rugby tired but happy, and felt I needed to take it easy for a day or two (especially knowing what was coming up). I have a lot of quilting to do but a slow day seemed possible. Monday started with the phone ringing, and between that and emails it was suddenly 3.30pm and I was hungry and more tired. I figured I would get out of the house for a bit, when the phone rang again. By the time I had dealt with that it was time to head out to a fitting for some bridal alterations. Yes I will do that too, but not often. In this case it is for some neighbours and I feel it is part f my contribution to the community, besides they seem to be a very nice family.

Tuesday I was much more determined. I dropped Tet off at the station and headed off. If I am not in the house no one can call me or email me right? I had decided to head for Buckingham, as I wanted wool for another crochet project and I really fancied giving the car a run. Oh boy was it good to drive the car again. I love th van, but it isn't fun to drive. It's slow and handles like something big heavy and wobbly. Unfortunately the car had been parked under a tree and was covered in bird droppings. Still that wasn't going to stop me. Do you have any idea how good it feels to drive without a deadline? I can't remember the last time I did it. The drive is a nice on and I got great weather for it, so by the time I arrived at the Nimble Thimble I was relaxed and felt like I was on holiday. It turned out I had picked a good day to visit, they got their first delivery of broomsticks for crochet and giant knitting needles. Both are being made by a local craftman for them and are lovely. For the ladies from Rugby, I am going to be teaching Art Quilts by Numbers here as well as at Patchwork Corner so you have a choice of dates and both shops are pretty easy for you guys to get to.

Wednesday is two regular classes at Patchwork Corner. Last week I had told my students about a pattern I was thinking of knitting. One of them being a keen knitter wanted to see it, so I took it in. She thought it looked hard, I wasn't comvinced. It looks time consuming, but pretty straightforward. If you know me, you know that telling me something looks tricky is a red rag to a bull. I have already knitted a decent chunk of it, but it is hard to pick up and put down. I am using it as something to keep my busy when waiting for things, so I do need to put it down quite frequently. I now understand why my friend who worked in a costuming department was quite happy for people to sew but never allowed knitting on set. It can be a complete pain.

Thursday I had the first lesson of term for my Thursday classes. The quilt at the top of this post was from Thursday afternoon. This is a students first quilt. It is a Ferret size quilt. 108" x 96". That is the nice thing about making quilts 'quilt as you go'. People are much braver about large quilts when they don't have to quilt the whole thing. I am thrilled she has finished it and so quickly too. She is now moving on to my next sampler quilt book and it looks like that will get brought up to a proper size too.

Saturday brought a different outing. A games convention. I've been avoiding them for a while but this one sounded fun. Tring con. Held in a little hall in Tring with food included. It was great fun and I enjoyed most of the games I played. It was rather like a quilting retreat (right down to the type of hall) but with less quilting and more gaming. I plan on going again. I also got a lot of crochet done, although people there mostly thought it was knitting :) Crochet is far easier to pick up and put down and apparently is very soothing to watch.

Since then my nose had been firmly to the grindstone. I have a lot of customer work to get through with quilts for the Patchwork Corner stand at the knitting and stitching show and for Susan Briscoe's new book, needing urgent attention.  I hope I will have time to write again while I am away as I have 3 days in Norfolk and 2 in the New Forest coming up. In the mean time here are some links you might like,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Phoenix - the leather duster coat

I've finally got time to write up some thing about the summers mystery projects. I was invited to take part in the first fashion show at the festival of quilts this year and I accepted the challenge. It became definate in January when I was asked to make items for four categories. Daywear, acessory,evening wear and fantasy.

Two of the categories came to me very quickly and the daywear was one of them. I had a hide waiting for me to make a coat and I knew what I wanted on it. I just had to find the time to make it, and this was the perfect excuse. It had become work rather than luxury. I have a lot of projects like this filed im my head just waiting for their chance. Now at the time I said I would make some notes on the design process, and I did. I was going to edit them but actually they give you a pretty good idea of what normally goes on im my head when I am planning a project so here they are as I wrote them down.
My daywear project is going to be a coat. It's something I have wanted to make for a while. I would love to teach it as a course and make a pattern from it so it seems a really sensible (if anything about this can be called sensible) project.

I've been thinking about it a while and I will be using Folkwear pattern 137, Australian Drovers Coat. I've already made one and I love it. I also remebered it as being quite boxy so it should be easy to modify.

I want to use the phoenix from my quilt Phoenix Rising on the back of the coat, and add flames around the bottom. I want to add some flame dyded velvet to it in places, maybe the collar, cuffs and fastening band. I'm thinking of quilting smoke and flames to fill up the back and maybe adding flames on the front opening and cuffs.

One of the features I really like about this coat is the cape. Unfortunately I think it will cover up too much of the back to be able the fit the phoenix in. Maybe I can just use half a cape? Maybe I can get one wing tip over the other shoulder.

I can't decide about the pockets. I hate impractical clothing. I love huge pockets, but will they fit with the design? Maybe they will belnd in. Maybe I can quilt flames onto the pocket that hang off it and then quilt them down to the coat?

3rd Feb 2010

Well as it is official I've had a look at the pattern. It's even better than I remembered the body is two big rectangles give or take. However I am going to be making the coat longer and losing the back opening. Is it going to be too tight to walk in? Can I keep the opening? This would require the phoenix to miss the bottom of the center back. Alternatively I am thinking I might be able to add some more hemline by cutting and spreading the pattern, but I am not sure how that will hang. Would having more fullness make it hard to see the design? Does it matter?

I've also been giving some thought to what I will make this out of. It is going to be quilted. If I do quilted clothing, it's going to be proper, end of story, but how. I am guessing I can use silk wadding as it is very light, but it won't add much loft either which is a shame. I could go for wool which doesn't drape as well but would give better definition which I would like. On the other hand the original phoenix is pretty flat so maybe the silk would be better. Especially as I am considering quilting the lining too.

If I am going to quilt the coat should I make it a size bigger? My coat is fairly snug and I would hate this not to fit when I am finished. I do have a second copy of the pattern so it wouldn't be a big deal to make it bigger.

The lining I have now, it is more of the cotton satteen that I will be using for the phoenix and the flames. I am pretty sure I have plenty now. If I get stuck I will use black sateen inside the sleeves where it doesn't show.

The outer is the really tricky bit. I could go for sateen. I can get it readily, it quilts well and will show the loft of the wadding nicely. It will also make quite a fragile coat. I could use wool coating. If I do this I might as well go for a thin cotton wadding as what ever I use there won't be any loft to show, but it would be warm and durable. It also sews up really well. Now the really mad idea I had on the way home tonight was to make it in leather. I know a huge risk. I can't unpick and I can't quilt as densely as I might like. It won't show much loft from the wadding either. On the other hand I want a leather duster. It will be a practical coat after the show and it would be something really different and remarkable. Would it be more likely to impress? If I go with the leather option I am even more worried about the drape. Leather is relatively stiff and if I get the shape wrong it will be very wrong. Oh and of course it won't be cheap :) I do have a cow just waiting to be used though so I won't have to spend anything if I get it right. Also if I go with the leather should I look for some coloured leather to make the half cape in too? Will 505 stick things to leather?

Well as you can see things changed, they always do in my projects. I decided to leave off the velvet, it just isn't practical for me. It would have looked a mess in no time. I did manage to keep the cape, which I love although the center back slit did have to go. When I looked closer at the pattern this is one of the options offered so it wasn't a problem to not have it. I did make a larger size than usual to make sure it would fit and there would be walking space.

The outside is leather and it turned out I could remove the centre back seam so the main body is one piece. That took most of a hide on it's own. I needed a second hide for the sleeves and the cape. The coat is lined throughout with the hand dyed cotton, yes I even had enough for the sleeves and the insides of the pockets.

I did go through a phase where the coat was going to be a wholecloth. It seemed that it would be more durable that way. The problem was putting in enough stitching to convey the colour properly. I wasn't sure I could get the detail I wanted without damaging the leather too much so I went back to the applique plan.

For the wadding I ended up using a silk/bamboo blend from Asding. After a long and informative conversation this looked like a really good option for garments. It is, I loved working with it and it drapes well. I was thrilled that the compare did read out what the wadding was and where it had come from. It is called Quilters Dream Orient, check it out.

For the show I wore my military style boots with jeans and a black shirt. I wanted things to be very plain so they wouldn't detract from the coat. To keep my hair out of the way I went for the leather hat I have for drag racing, it seemed to suit the coat pretty well. Finaly the outfit was completed by Hal, my stick. This was made for me by the husband of one of my students and it was lovely to have a chance to show him off. He is modeled after one of their ferrets, hence the name.

Finally here is the coat hanging on the wall in the exhibition after the show. It is looking for more venues to be shown in so if you think you know of a show it should go to please let me know.

If there are things you would like to know about this coat that I haven't covered (this post is already quite long enough) leave a comment and I will try and answer them. Yes, 505 does hold things to leather quite nicely. Also if you want to see more details, click on the photos, they are quite large when you open them full size.