Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Lap Quilt #2

Jean's Quilt Front
Lap Quilt number 2 finished all quilted and bound, and I'm actually nearly there on the third one.

This one was another lesson in fabrics that aren't nice thin weight cotton, the lovely yellow William Morris fabric is a slightly heavier furnishing weight fabric, but still a good cotton if a bit sore to sew through when quilting at the seams. I don't think the green was pure cotton but it's all used up now! 

The choice of colours is my inner unconventional child getting her way, I always remember the quote 'red and green should never be seen', well, I think it's wrong, think about Christmas for starters.  The colours of this quilt are warm and rich to me, medieval colours of a rich bluey green and bluey red combined with the Morris fabric itself inspired by medieval fabrics and designs.

Jean's Quilt Reverse
With the quilting on this one I wanted the thread to show a bit more, so I quilted in the ditch around the stars but wanted to do something a bit different with the nine patches, particularly where there were plain squares, hence the quilting pattern of curved squares (can you say that!) and stars.  As always the flannel kept moving, I don't think I could have done it on a machine without much shoutyness.

My maternal grandmother sits in her room with this on her lap and watches the birds outside the window in her room in Harrogate.  

Friday, 14 October 2011

Norweigan Sampler

As I've said before, the gift of creating something for someone is a gift of love, and this was a real labour of love.  My mum doesn't cross stitch any more, but she'd bought this cross stitch in the 1960s and could never get to finishing it, so she gave it to me to finish for myself.  Being her she wouldn't have dreamt of asking me to do it for her.  But it was clear she loved it so I applied myself and earned some major brownie points and a huge smile, what more could I want!  Funnily enough she'd always kept the frame she had made for it, and it fitted and looked great.  It was lovely to work, really soft linen and soft colours and because it wasn't solid cross stitches it was actually done quite quickly.  I usually flatten out hoop marks by stretching, but my mum would be taking it home on the train so it needed to be roll upabble.  So I gently ironed it with a steam iron from the back, hovering just over the fabric at first, and it came out great.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Caitlin's first projects

My final posting is a proud one, my daughter's first two projects, completed just before she turned 8.  The dolphin (Dolly) was machine pieced with very little help, the dolly, Emily, she hand sewed herself, with some remedial work from me when she lost the beads in her bum (ahem!).  Both are kits which are perfect early projects for a child, the dolphin is a Minicraft Sewing Kit and the Emily doll kit comes from Dimensions Needlecrafts, although her dress is slightly different.  Both are sitting on Caitlin's bed, on the quilt made for her by my very patient and talented mother.

Lap Quilts

Margaret's Quilt Front
It was me who was the bright spark that wanted to create lap quilts for my maternal grandmother and Scott's paternal grandparents, after all, when you've reached their age what do they really need?  My grandmother is in a nursing home and I'm sure is thoroughly sick of chocolates and bath salts, me and Caitlin are going to visit her in November so this was an opportunity to make something that would be useful and hopefully look good.  Scott's grandmother always admires my sewing, so it was a no brainer for her too.  They will have names when I've decided which one is going to whom, I think this one is Margaret's colours but will have to consult with the big man.

I decided to use only fabric and piecing thread from my stash, which included some heavier weight cottons and some polycotton, the latter giving me enough trouble that I will sort through and put them out!  The former was a pretty William Morris fabric that I was happy to have the difficulty working with.  I adapted a Lynne Edwards design from her Stash Buster Quilts which I shamelessly stole off my mother, very much learning as I went how to fit the full size quilt design down to a lap quilt.  Her easy method for creating the nine patches is great fun but needed adapting when I didn't have enough fabric to do more than three or even one block.  I machine pieced the quilt with hinderance from my cats who were determined to sit on the blocks
Lap Quilt #1: Reverse

I bought the wadding (Hobbes 80/20 Heirloom, white) and backing, choosing to use a plain flannel which is lovely and warm but a pain in the butt to quilt, even with careful basting it moves!   I was hand quilting though which made it easier to manipulate as I went along.  I quilted in the ditch all round the star panels on this one and did swirls for the 9-patches.  Most of the fabrics in this one are from my and my mum's stash, so I have no idea what they are, but two are V&A fabrics from the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition (Hearts (Red) and Seaweed).  The blues I can identify are a Fossil Fern from Benartex (possibly #2 Patina) and Leafy Glade #36.  The quilting thread for all three was Superior King Tut, in this case Jewel of the Nile (#913) which beautifully matched the red and blues.

So, one down, two to go.  Having said that, I'm a good way through quilting the third and the second is just being bound, so I may be there soon.  All I have to do then is choose which one to give to whom.

An update in January, it did go to Scott's grandmother and she phoned a few days later to say she loved it.  The matriarch and heart of a loving extended family, she and Matthew have them on their laps in the evening to protect them from drafts.  What more could I want.

'Wish You Were Here' postcard

For September's Quilters; Guild Regional Day in Perth the challenge was to make a postcard with the theme 'Wish You Were Here';.  While for most people this had them going in search of farbic for beach scenes, the phrase means something very different for me.  I wish that people I have lost were here, I still miss my grandfather who died when I was 3, and my grandmother who died about 10 years ago.  The latter was a watercolour painter and fierce spirit, she adored all four of us grandchildren and would solve any crisis with mountains of sandwiches.  This postcard is a copy in fabric of a photograph given to me by my aunt, her daughter, who is also an exceptional artist and spirit.  I wanted to give her something I could do, I feel more and more that for the people I care about who appreciate hand work as I do giving of my time in this way is more valuable than a shop brought gift.

I first drew the picture onto white polycotton (never using that again, it's the real thing all the way from now on) using Inktense pencils, I just got myself the full box set of these and they are wonderful.  I then layered two pieces of the cotton with a piece of wadding and free machined the yellow field of oil seed rape and the grasses to either side of the patch.  Then I hand stitched the river before doing more free machining over the top to build up the greens.  I increased the intensity of the blue in my grandmother's smock using the Inktense pencils. Finally I dotted white / beige french knots slong the right side of the path where the cow parsley is in the phtograph and created the oak tree to the right of the picture with french knots using several shades of green DMC floss in my needle.    The other trees are created with short seed stitches in various shades.  The last few reeds and my grandmother's hair were created with single stitches.  Finally I did the border using satin stitch.

We have just lost another friend, only a year older than us, and it reminds me of the importance of keeping records like this one.  I keep a diary on a daily basis, and unless I diarise what I'm creating those I leave behind wont understand my drive to create.  My aunt was astounded when I gave this postcard to her, I find it hard to see my work through other people's eyes, to me it seems uninteresting, but I have to accept others see it differently.  I guess when I create especially when it is for, as in the case of the lap quilts, or of, someone I love very much, that love goes into every stitch in a very karmic way.

Updates on the Sampler Quilt

10. Bargello

This was a tricky one to do regarding the colour changes and thickness of the seams on the thin strips but I loved quilting it in smooth curves in contrast to the stepped curves of the Bargello. This was not one of my favourite designs when I looked at it in the book, but I felt I needed to do all the blocks to learn the techniques.  I prefer seminole, which this is similar to, but am glad I took it on, I was pleasantly pleased at the effectiveness of the lines and with myself for carefully following the excellent instructions.  The quilting wasn't easy given the closeness of some of the seams, but I'm pleased with that too

11. Attic Windows

After carefully selecting the graduating fabrics for Bargello this one was quite easy, using the orange cotton which is kind of the ground colour for the entire quilt, and a red to contrast for the uprights on the window frames. Then I chose a range of fabrics from my palatte to graduate from the yellow in the bottom left corner to the black in the opposite, using fussy cutting from the same fabric in two of the sets of panels.  I was really looking forward to doing the quilting in this one, using the sun rising to echo the movement from light to dark in the window panels.  My hand piecing wasn't perfect but once the yellow sashing was on it looked fine, the yellow working well as a contrast as it sin't used in any of the edge windows.

12. Pineapple

This was the first foundation piecing I'd done for quite some time, squirreling in my stash to find some tearaway stabiliser.  I always find it difficult to remember which way my seams go but Lynne Edwards' instruction were, as eve, clear and easy to follow.  I prefer log cabin but am happy with the way this turned out, even if I did have to cut the corner triangles twice because I had the stripes going the wrong way!  I like this way of using the fabrics so it looks like a jagged x shaped fan rather than an octagon framed within the outer triangels.  I just quilted along the lines for this one, which was needed as I'd just missed one of the seams on the foundation piecing, for once my machining was less accurate than my hand sewing.  I blame the fabric...