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.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why am I tired?

I've made it home safely, I think all the well wishing helped, I was sooo tired on the way back. I think the 50 limit really makes the motorway too boring to be safe. The last few days have been a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I am so grateful for all the hospitality I've been given, it makes these bulk teaching/talking sessions possible. It does always shock me how much more tiring larger classes are. Both the classes this week have been great, very friendly and keen to help each other, lots of laughs, but still I'm tired. It doesn't seem fair somehow.

Yes I really did stay in the van both nights I was away. It works well for me. Firstly I don't fret about my quilts all night. If I wake up I can see them (and no I don't fancy unloading it every night), but also if gives me a little down time. Yesterday evening I sat and worked on a new design which will be a mystery quilt while watching a squirrel. It was really nice. Then while I blogged I watched a DVD a rare luxury these days. As to getting cold in the van, I'm a quilter, guess how I stay warm :) Yup there are several quilts on the bed and I am snug as a bug. It was very nice to be on a site with a heated bathroom and lots of hot water for washing  up, yup that is enough to be an exciting luxury :) I am very touched by everyones concern but I thought I would try and assure you everything was fine and I really am quite happy in my van.

I hope the Bernina I upset today has recovered now I am a reasonable distance (at least 70 miles) away. It's been a while since one a had a fit like that. I hope I will be able to share some pictures from both classes soon but right now I think I will veg out again.

Oh no on more thing, I spotted on Amazon this week  that my book was number 11 in the best selling quiling and patchwork books. It really has been a great week. On that note, night night.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What a week!

It's been a busy week for me and a bit of a shock to the system. The day before term started for my regular classes I taught Autumn Leaves at Patchwork Corner. It was fun and although we were missing one student, hope you get well soon, we had a lot of fun and the projects came on well. I am looking forward to seeing them finished.

Wednesday , was the first day of term and as usual it was busy. Everyone was starting new things and even most of the people in the middle of projects had saved problems to bring to class. It was tiring, but quite fun really. There were new students, and old students returning, so lots of new names to remember too. One of my returning students brought in a copy of the new British Patchwork and Quilting magazine. It has a teaser report on the Festival of Quilts including pictures of some of my garments and of me and Linzi with the dueling longarms.

I got home Wednesday to find a magazine waiting at home. It was the above copy of Popular Patchwork. That was exciting too. I knew it was time for the final part of Davina's Stay at Home quilt. I was lucky enough to quilt one of her samples and this month is quilting. i am thrilled with the write up, and that she noticed a lot of the little details that I think make the difference. However while I was looking for that item I found Bad Rain. It made their review of the Festival. Given that I am still amazed at how well this is recieved by quilters, it's a huge thrill to see it in a magazine.

Thursday I headed for Reading and a talk. It went really well and I had a lot of fun. My hosts were very welcoming and yes I am loving the DVD. Friday I was teaching some of the ladies from the group to make art quilts. It's quite a full class, there is a lot of information I need to get across in a day, but they all did very well. As ever I was amazed by the variety they achieved using the same patterns. I was also impressed with how much they got done and their willingness to give things a go. I hope I will see some pictures from them soon.

I knew that Friday was the day the winners from Innovations were published. As I have two quilts there I thought I would check for results. Nothing. No results on the web and no email. Well so be it, I've seen previous winners, they are good so I wasn't that surprised. Imagine my shock this morning when I checked the APQS forum and found the picture of Nude with Rope above. I'm guessing that is a judged second place I'm not quite certain yet. I was rather pleased. The ideal mood to arrive at a talk. While I finished setting up Tet thought he would have a look at the picture, then he called me over. He said I hadn't looked properly, I thought he meant that it wasn't the award I thought. Nope he had found the picture of Greek Fossils! We think that has a judged third and a peer review ribbon. I can't quite believe it.

Now I am in a lovely field in my van near Rugby. Tomorrow I am teaching Speed Quilts, I wonder if they will be ready for it ;) It's a fast fun class and they will be working hard. I hope it goes OK, but for now I think I will finish watching this movie and get some slow sewing done.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In the van, out of the van, repeat till tired.

We got home late last night after a really good days racing. We didn't feel like trying to unload the van in the dark so we left it. It has just taken an hour and a half to unload, clean and reload the van. I will be living in it for 3 days this week and as I have a lot of work to do before then it is nice to know most of the work is done.  There is a picture of the van here for anyone interested, there is also my car.

Now I have two days of quilting and talking to customers. I have two quilts in that have suddenly become urgent, and quite legitimately, so I need to do a lot of hours and try and minimise sleeping and eating. It will be worth it if I can pull it all off. On that note I should stop playing here and get on with my work.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Street Eliminator

I thought I would share some pictures of my favourite class. All the cars in this post are street legal. You could run into the at the supermarket. Yes really, especially if you shop at Tesco in Wellingborough. All these cars went there yesterday to buy fuel and prove they can. If a car fails to get there and back it can't compete.

Yes, yesterdays car was on two wheels. A lot of cars lift their front wheels when they launch, and I managed to catch it just right. It's a bit hit and miss as I am taking the pictures on my mobile phone.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What does it mean when you wake up in a muddy field?

Either things have gone wrong or you are at Santa Pod for the drag my case the latter. The rain is much easier to deal with when you can have a lie in, a calm breakfast and do some design work while you wait for the track to dry. As you can see there was some racing today, although not much and it was well spread out with light erain on and off all day.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wessex Quilters

Another day, another venue. This one is a little hut style church. However with a flexable group it's amazing what you can fit in. I was hoping that with this talk I would be able to do without helpers, so everyone can see the talk. To achieve that I needed to hang all three of the big quilts, so a small hall wasn't ideal. On the other hand, we did get away with it. By putting two stands along the walls and moving the chairs back a little it worked very well. The talk ran nicely and turned out to be just slightly over an hour. I am pretty pleased with that as there wasn't a clock in the hall so I had no idea how the timing was working out. From the feedback I've had the group liked it too. There were several people there who had seen me before and they seemed to feel they got a lot of new information and different quilt, which is exactly what I was aiming for.

They are a friendy, good natured bunch and big on hospitality. Even though they don't have refreshments themselves I was asked what they should bring for me! This made packing a lot of fun and not much work. I did have to make sure no one managed to put Pheonix in their pockets though :) Once loaded they sent me on my way with nice clear directions. Tuesday night I had taken the van out at night and the lights had been reluctant to come on, they did after a little jiggle and I had added it to my to do list. I was hoping they were going to hold out for anothe day. Sure enough as I left the hall I only got side lights but a short way down the road the headlights came on. Fine, until I stopped for petrol. When I started off again the lights really didn't want to play.

As I aproached the motorway I was considering my options. I didn't fancy unlit motorway on side lights, old side lights at that. I pulled into a layby to phone home and check my rear lights. The rear lights were on, and most people would see me from the back as I am very slow, so maybe it would work. Then suddenly the lights came on. Seemed like a good point to get a move on.

As I got to Fleet services it was decision time. It is the last stopping point on the way home and there is an hours drive after it. I was getting tired, hungry and I wanted the loo. Do I push on or take the chance on stopping? One yawn and blink too many, I stopped. It's nice service stop and I had a fully equiped van. Well fully equiped bar lights. When I came back to the van I couldn't get any lights to stay on. I had to wait for daylight. Of course daylight was also going to bring rush hour. Hmmm. Paying was very easy and it was quite quick to re stow my talk to clear the bed and the floor. Then I got to test, what I have heard several people call, contraceptive bedding. These are covers so heavy you can't move ;) I had added a furry bedspread in preparation for the drag racing and this was my chance to try it out. Well it's definately heavy and I was nicely warm. Not hot just comfortable. The thermometer says the temperature didn't drop (well not at any point I was awake) so maybe it was just a warm night, but I doubt it given how chilly it was when I got up.

I quite rate sleeping (or at least lounging in bed) through rush hour. Then a casual breakfast and heading home. I can see that it might not work for those who need silence to sleep but for me it was good, and cheap. If the car had done the same thing I would have had to use the hotel which I guess would have been 70 quid ish. The van even kept it's fault long enough for me to show it to the mechanic, which will hopefully mean he can fix it. That would be good as I am hoping to take the van out tonight. If not tomorrow morning will be just fine.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What should next year look like?

It's the time of year when I make my calendar for the next year. The first one I did was just for fun, but they seem to have got more popular each year. Given I now make them for you it seems only fair to ask which quilts you would like to see in them. I will be making both a desk calendar and a wall one again this year. So which of my quilts should I put in the calendars?

At the moment I am on my way to Winchester. Tonights talk is Art Quilts. It's the first time I have done this one and I am surprisingly nervous. Not so much about the talk itself but more how people will react to it. It also feels odd having less bulk of quilts with me. Many of my art quilts are relatively small, so it looks like I don't have much with me. On the other hand I think I got very lucky. I took my prints of my triptych off the wall to bring with me, and as I left the room one of the hooks fell out of the wall. Given the size and weight of the prints that would have been on heck of a mess. On the other hand it's going to make rehanging them a bit tricky.

The break has also given me a chance to catch up on some paperwork. I'm a bit worried I may have misplaced one set, but all except 2 are ready to go back. I guess I need to find a postbox now. Maybe there will be one in the services.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Caraven club....hmmm

Tuesday morning we realised I had a scheduling issue. Bristol Wednesday evening, home, then Bournemouth Thursday morning would leave me driving most of the night and doubling back on myself. Despite apperances I really like sleeping, so I thought there had to be a better option. When we got the motorhome I joined the Caravan club, who's main benefit is having lots of member only camp site. How hard could it be to book somewhere to stop overnight between Bristol and Bournemouth? As it turns out, quite hard and time consuming, but I did eventually find a site that could cope with a late night arrival, and being at Longleat, it also offered the sound of lions in the night. Cool.

The trip down to Bristol was good although Bristol itself is a bit of a challenge for an elderly motorhome. It's very hilly with tight turns, but I found the venue and parked as close as I could. The venue has a lift that was apparently tailor made for my talk and serveal helpers made light work of getting set up. The audience were very interactive, laughing and groaning in the right places. Thanks to having two helpers I could walk up and down the row and talk to everyone which was great. Reloading the van was much easier than unloading as I got two really good helpers. Help is always appreciated but when I happen to get one or two who think like me and can lift heavy things it's great, so by the time I left I was feeling pretty good.

I headed off to Longleat with satnav and guide book to help me I knew that after hours there was a different route into the camping so the site guide was likely to be pretty important. I quickly discovered that a satnav has a talent for picking roads I can't use. It came up with a fair selections or height and width reatrictions, but I read road signs and managed to avoide them all. This did make for a rather longer slower journey than I had expected. About 11.30 I started seeing signs for Longleat. As far as I could tell the book, the satnav and the signs all wanted me to go different ways. Not ideal, and the satelite signal was getiing weak too. I figured that the signs should be pretty reliable. Too many people use them for them to be too bad, so I went for them. Great when there were any, so more driving around in cirles when there was no sign and I trusted the satnav. By now with all the extra milage I was getting low on fuel. Not a problem I was only a few miles from the site and I had a jerry can of fuel. In the morning all the closed petrol stations would be open and I could refuel.

A caravan came out of Longleat as I went in. Odd, they have to be Caravan club people and they don't move their vans at this time of night. I was a little worried but maybe they liked driving at night. I tried to follow the signs and instructions but all I found were ever smaller roads and tighter bends. The second car and van combo I felt really sorry for. They were huge and I was having a bad enough time. They did also worry me, they seemed to be giving up and leaving. Eventually I had to admit defeat. Every route in I could find was blocked by gates or road blockers, I wasn't going to be stopping here. Worse I was now really low on fuel and there was nowhere to pull in, I didn't fancy trying to refuel in the middle of a single track road.

I told the satnav to head for home and hoped I would find a bigger road. When I found a village shop with parking and light I was thrilled. I could try to refuel. Unfortunately the jerry can doesn't have a spout, but I do carry a funnel. The funnel has to be held into the petrol filler with one hand, which leave one hand to lift and pour a 5 gallon jerry can. Sound easy, try it, it isn't. I managed it by standing on one leg and using the knee to push up and tip the can. I did get to wear quite a lot of the petrol but I got some into the van too and headed off again.

Heading for London seemed to be heading for street lights, which was hopeful but the petrol stations were still all closed. The van was rapidly chewing through the fuel I had got into it and I was tired and hungry. It scary when you realise you shouldn't be driving but you can't find somewhere to stop. Eventually the fuel gauge was solidly in the red and I still hadn't found an open petrol station. I found a closed one on a big roundabout and stopped. It looked like it should be busy and I hoped it would open early. It wasn't the best place to spend the night but it better than breaking down on the road. 6am the place opened and I was able to fuel up.

Not the best experience I've had but it did have a couple of upsides. The petrol station I was stuck at was just down the road from Stonehenge, so I went and visited it. It was lovely in the early sun and the scenery getting there was fantastic. There were several patches of amazing mist but nowhere to stop and take pictures. It was really quite wonderful. From there I went and harassed a friend who had complained about me coming to the area and not saying hello in the past. This time she got a breakfast visitor. It was a real bonus having a chance to catch up and have an impromptu fashion show outside her house. I think we comfused a lot of people but we had fun. I did make it to Bournemouth on time too, where we had lunch in a lovely fish restaurant on Mudeford spit.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


This is my holiday project for this year. I was sold it by The Nimble Thimble when I was last there, the beginning of August. It was something a bit different for me. I can crochet but generally I don't. I like lacy shawls, but I don't often make them. Still they were impressed with the pattern, the samples were lovely and there was a crochet expert in the building. I ended up buying the project and actually two extra balls of wool.

The pattern is called Cloud and is from the Rowan book 'Misty in Light and Shade' by Kim Hargreaves. It is supposed to make up a 60" x 30" triangle from 4 balls but I fancied a bigger wrap to use in the van so I started with 226 stitches. I could have gone a bit bigger as it truns out but the shawl is still a good size, too big to photograph to be honest. I had to wait for a hook to start this project. It calls for a 9mm which is pretty hard to get but the ladies at the Nimble Thimble got them in for me. It's the first time I jave used a wooden hook and I loved it. I think it was quicker and easier to use than the metal or plasic ones. I made this shawl in 3 days and loved every minute of it.

I've already been in touch with the shop about my next project. When I was there I saw broomstick crochet for the first time. It looks fun and I want to play. My broomstick is already on order, I am sure they will be able to find me some suitable yarn and a small wooden crochet hook too. If you fancy having a go at this pattern the shop has it on special offer at the moment and even if they have sold out of the hooks again they will happily order them in for you.