Too thin and too small

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This was my no 2 son’s rather brutal verdict on the quilts in the house in particular his own and the one that lives in the lounge. I have to say I agree – his first quilt at 50″ by 60″ (am I the only UK quilter that embraces the use of imperial measurements over metric?) was more of a bed runner. It was the first pieced quilt for a person as opposed to cat  I made and I didn’t even know about 1/4″ seams at that point. But it looked good and suited his room but he’s shot up and wants a quilt he can wrap himself up in. He also says he gets cold in the night which I find odd as he has the warmest bedroom in the house and open windows aren’t his thing.

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To be fair this verdict had been gradually dawning on me over the last few months  as I’ve also found the quilts on the thin side.  I know the argument for the traditional quilt of all cotton or wool is they can be heirlooms for the future but I want them to be used and loved in the here and now,  giving comfort and warmth when that’s needed.

Take the lounge quilt, this was a design I loved  and fabric colours went well in there. I saw this as something you could pull over you when it got chilly and it was too much effort to light the log burner. But although it’s a bit bigger it is all cotton using the more lofty ‘Select’ cotton batting from Quilters Dream  and yes I have to admit it is not a snuggly quilt at all.

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It is however the perfect quilt for a hot night when you want something to cover you but not too warm, but in the UK we get few of those. I’m wondering whether my family are so used to thick duvets as a covering that quilts don’t stand a chance by comparison in the snuggly stakes. However I’m still on the search for the perfect combination of batting and backing that will make it cosy but not too weighty. Something that provides warmth without the bulk of a duvet.

I tried a thick polyester batting (Quilters Dream – Dream Puff) in the recent charity quilt for Siblings Together. Given how light it was it  was surprisingly warm and had a great drape.  It felt rather like a sleeping bag, but without the nylon/polyester slippery feel, but I’d have preferred more weight.

 

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So the search resumed for a snuggly warm quilt, not as heavy as a duvet, but nevertheless with good drape but a feeling of warmth about it. In fact the only quilts I’ve made that might meet this are the cats’ quilts which use flannel and a fleecy blanket and possibly now my eldest son’s and my daughter’s which both have a good quality fleece/minky backing. Together with a poly/cotton mix batting (Hobbs 80/20 blend) these are definitely warmer and snugglier. They both get a lot of use and abuse – a true test of their acceptability.

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Certainly as to size that’s more easily fixed even it brings with it more ‘fun’ with the basting part. What has worked for both the children’s quilts is to go for the approximate size of their duvet. I’ve also kept the quilting simple. Partly because I’m wary of it affecting the drape and snuggly requirements of the children if it had been too densely quilted but also partly because both quilts were eagerly awaited and simple walking foot quilting was quicker.

But is that combination the holy grail of snuggly quilts? I’m still experimenting. My own new quilt for my recently redecorated bedroom is in process. It’s from the Urban Candy pattern by Sew Kinda Wonderful using the Quick Curve Ruler.  The top is now assembled and the plan is to use wool batting. I didn’t want a minky backing so I’ve gone for a flannel backing. I know there is criticism of flannel becoming harsh and/or bobbly after repeated washing but that has not been my experience with the cats’ quilts. So I’ve bought the same fabric as before  and now I just need to get on with basting and quilting to test the latest combination.  I will let you know the verdict. In the meantime if you have a favourite combination for a quilt do share.

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Pets in/on a quilt

No you are not seeing double. This is the next and last link up to do with the fun annual pet show Snoodles of  Lily Pad Quilting organises.

Now this entry is my attempt at capturing Skye, our lilac tonkinese cat (the colour is platinum in the US I understand) on/in a quilt. She is a lovely sweet natured cat, quite dog-like in her need to be around people, well at least be around the women in the family – the boys are too lively and unpredictable.

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The quilt uses the confetti technique. I’d wanted to have a go at both this technique and trying to capture Skye’s portrait. The opportunity came along when Kim of Persimon Dreams, as part of her weekly challenge quilts earlier this year, offered up the word confetti as her week’s theme. Normally I don’t have the capacity to do a quilt, even a mini quilt, in a week but when I saw this theme I thought the time had come and set aside a few hours to get this done. In fact it is quite a quick process and the very nature of dealing with confetti fabric (which is basically normal fabric cut up into very small ‘confetti’ sized pieces) means that doing it in one chunk of time certainly saves on mess.

The method involves using your confetti size pieces like paint or collage and then using the different colours layer them up to make the image you’re trying to copy. I should really have taken photos but once in the zone it’s hard to remember but there are YouTube videos where the technique is shown. Holding everything together is a layer of organza which you lay over the top and through which you quilt the  finishing details and of course it helps to keep the whole thing together.

In more detail I started with the following picture.

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Skye is not an easy cat to capture in the sense that she often looks startled and I’m told the best portraits come from photos  when they’re looking into the camera. The problem is that seeing something like a camera or ipad between me and her clearly unnerves her. I shall have to get cleverer, probably enlisting my daughter.

The next step was to use photo editing to simplify the colours and then select some appropriate fabrics. I chose solids but I think with the benefit of hindsight using tone on tone or batik type fabrics would have given the varied fur colour  more depth.

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Using a pale fabric background (Kona snow) and tracing the picture on to that marking out the various colour variations I started doing the eyes. I was much influenced by Barbara  of Cat Patches who I came across in last year’s pet quilt show. She writes a hugely entertaining daily blog where her cats feature quite significantly. She has developed a very clever and effective way of doing cat pawtraits  as she calls them and she starts with the eyes. Her technique is to use appliqué and probably the best portrait of many beautiful ones she’s done is also in the show, this time of her new cat Sadie.

Eventually after much readjustment and moving the tiny pieces around, blending them together where possible,  the organza was laid over the top and I could start to quilt the details like fur and shading. It came together quite quickly and then I cut out the head and appliquéd that to the background fabric.

Not sure what Skye thinks of it….

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But be assured I will be doing another this time using the appliqué technique of Barbara’s  – does it surprise I’ve already been shopping for the fabrics?

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Pets on a Quilt

How could I resist this link up with Lily Pad Quilting’s annual pet show. This is a fun link up for quilters with rather too much fondness of taking pics of their four legged friends  but if pets or cats in particular aren’t your thing then skip by. You can offer up two entries so there will be a double dose…

Anybody who follows social media will see pampered pets in any number of photos. In fact often more so than children. Certainly my teens would extract a very significant bribe in order to appear in photographs and certainly any that were going to be published on the Internet!  My cats come free, well if you exclude the food, vets bills, insurance but they are worth every penny. So here is my first cat on a quilt – Skye looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth  however whilst I struggled with the layout  she was banned from the room. But she snooked in…

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Because last time when left alone with a scrappy quilt where the layout was being played with this is what happened…

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Everyone says it but there is something about a quilt, I guess it’s the new fabric and the fact they are squishy,  that seems to draw cats from all corners of the house. Even small quilt blocks get the same attention.  This picture is a good example, I’d gone to the top of the house where there is a sky light window overlooking a small landing – a great spot where the downward light sorts out a multitude of problems if it’s not as neat as it could be!!  But almost immediately given the 2000+ sq feet of space they have to choose from in the house they chose the very same 6 square feet I’m photographing!!  Now onto the next post – pets in a quilt….

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Fresh winds – Festival of Quilts

It was my third Festival of Quilts and undoubtedly the most enjoyable from my perspective although not one at which I spent hugely. Having at last introduced a Modern Quilt section amongst the numerous categories of quilts on show, in my view, this made a huge difference. Prior to that the show, which is in part, I understand run by the UK Quilters Guild had a Contemporary Quilts section, which incorporated modern quilts but also encouraged quilts that included other media. But this year we had our own slot and it was the first quilt section out the blocks as you entered and from my observation the busiest.

This isn’t going to be a post with a myriad of pictures just the ones of very many that were beautifully designed and technically stunning that appealed to me. I’ve strictly limited myself to 6….

First up,the quilt of Abigail de Straffe  ‘Shall I stay or shall I stay’

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Next to it is  Sunflower Quilt by Jenny Haynes. Both Jenny’s and Abigail’s quilts I’ve seen gradually come together on IG. What you can’t see so well in photos ( which suits me just fine with my less than perfectly constructed quilts) is their technical excellence, every block lines up and those pointy ends on the curved pieces, which are so hard to get to meet up, fantastic. And I guess that distinguishes a show quilt from well the rest like mine…

imageA quilt called Off Centre Medallion made by the very well known and incredibly prolific and original Jo Avery. I’m off on a retreat with her and others next January. I haven’t told the children this or got a teen sitter in tow yet!

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Another from IG and Jenny Haynes is Slalom.  You get a close up of how she’s produced this very original quilt. Clever.

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I loved this one.  It’s a fairly standard maple block design but in those saturated colours of Alison Glass with their quilt motifs it stands out. This was by Sarah Hbbert called ‘ Taliesin Leaves’

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And the final one from the Modern Quilt  show ‘colour an exploded view’ by Jennifer Letchet.  Made with hundreds of half square triangles, again Alison Glass fabric, the clever placement sets it apart

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The Quilters Guild also have a competition for all its members on a theme which can be interpreted any way.  This year’s theme was ‘On the beach’.  The well deserved winner was this huge curved quilt 4.5 m long taken from the panoramic photo of a beach scene taken on an iPhone.

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The construction of this amazing winner  is very well documented by the quilter Laura Kemshall (although I think artist describes her better as she creates using many media and techniques) on her blog (linked above). There is one photo on her post that had me quite shocked.  After some 250 hours of quilting, followed by printing and other processes there’s a picture of her hosing it down on her lawn….. It’s worth a read. Good for the judges to give the accolade to such an untraditional quilt in every respect.

And my purchases? Well I would have bought a set of Oakshott Ruby Reds but they aren’t due for delivery until later this year and I didn’t want the full set but just to pick and chose. It will have to wait. I have a little (cough) fabric to get along quite nicely until then. I did purchase some tulip pins for a cost I daren’t mention for fear of shocking my mother! And a FQ of this denim fabric.  So quite modest really. There’s always next year….

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More glitter blocks

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More glitter from scraps…..these wonderful glitter blocks from Jen Kingwell’s design continue to be addictive. Which is just as well as having done only 16 out of an estimated 70+ needed I’ve a long way to go.

I’m still marvelling that I’m enjoying hand stitching them. I’d have scoffed at the idea a few months back. After all what are sewing machines for! But being tucked away in my sewing room with the noise of the machine isn’t always conducive to family life. Ie it makes my teens moan that I’m not around to watch films etc. So I started and haven’t looked back even making a new bionic bag for supplies. The project even went on the plane with us.

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As I beavered away very predictably my 13 year son next to me was soon whispering it’s ‘sooo embarrassing’. Embarrassing or not, it was highly productive and would have been more so if BA would have allowed me to set up an ironing station on board!!

Linking up to Nicky and Leanne at Scraptastic  Tuesday 

 

Derivative or not?

 

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Here is ‘A Bit Derivative’ – my second challenge quilt for the Modern Quilt Group of the UK Quilters Guild. Like my earlier challenge quilt seen here…

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…it is on the theme of ‘black and white and one other (colour).  It will be exhibited at a quilt show  or two over the next year along with all the other entries. It is a very inclusive challenge, no juried entries, just the fun of taking part and stretching yourself. The only rule is it should be 20″ by 20″ so when exhibited together they have real impact. Other than keeping  to the theme the choice is yours!

For this piece I made many, many drunkard path pieces using my smallest template then it became a bit of a jigsaw to construct and numerous variations of layout were considered but we got there in the end.

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Why the title ‘A Bit Derivative’? You may have read the Modern Quilt Guild’s recent blog post about the need to ensure all quilts entered into shows are original and not derivative.  It sets out how you distinguish between the two whilst acknowledging it is a blurry line.

I think they are absolutely right to try to explain the difference but as always the devil is in the detail and boy is that line very blurry!! It has provoked a very lively debate, just read the comments to the post and you will see what I mean! To MQG’s credit they have responded to the critics with grace and patience. But it struck me as I read it that whilst the vast majority of my quilts are not shown these challenge quilts will be. I’m not sure the extent to which the same derivative rules apply to quilt shows in the UK. Indeed I’m off to the big daddy of UK quilt shows today the Festival of Quilts which for the first time will include a Modern Quilt section.  Whether or not the same principles apply, for the fun of it I have tried to determine the extent to which my challenge quilts from both last year and this are derivative.  Admittedly it’s a purely academic point but I think it’s a good way of trying to understand where the line is drawn.

The first one is easy. I used the stunning Painted Leaf pattern from Sarah Elizabeth at No Hats in the House blog for last year’s challenge.

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The theme was equilateral triangles so I played with the shapes a bit and simplified it a little but basically followed the pattern. It’s clearly derivative. I did let Sarah Elizabeth know I was using it to make a quilt for showing. She was positively  enthusiastic.

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With the current challenge quilt I came up with the design by pulling together a variety of ideas. I like curved piecing and in particular I like the drunkards path block. I wanted to stretch myself with small pieces and an improv layout. Whilst  I’d seen a number of quilts that had played with the placement of these blocks the design itself of this quilt was original, my main objective being a pleasing layout which avoided Y seams… The dense quilting in the background with raised elements is very common but does that make it derivitive? But the coloured thread aspect I shamelessly admit was a straight lift from the beautiful and very successful quilt by Cassandra Beavor shown at Quiltcon and juried into a number of other major quilt shows. Cassandra who blogs at The (not so) dramatic life is a very talented and innovative quilter whose work I find inspiring.

Interestingly my choice to use dense coloured straight line quilting was out of desperation!  I’d made a hash of trying to remove a stain on the quilt. Quite how the mark came to be there I don’t know but in a house of 3 children and two cats it’s busy and messy a fair chunk of the time. When I came to wash it with stain remover part of the stain on the Kona Snow fabric went bright white and the rest stayed muted yellow! Searching around for a solution the coloured thread idea hit me as a way of disguising these colour variations but also adding to the design. I’m quite sure Cassandra’s use of coloured thread quilting was deliberate and not a cover up!!

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So under the Modern Quilt Guild guidelines, if it were to be entered either competitively or as an exhibit into a quilt show I would need to be open about my inspiration and seek permission from Cassandra because that aspect was derivative. Or at least that’s my read of it.

Recognising another person’s talent and attributing the inspiration to their design Is a given and is in keeping with this generous community of quilters which Cassandra exemplifies. And in that context approaching a fellow quilter for permission to use an idea of their’s is pretty straightforward.

But what about my other challenge quilt where I’ve used a road layout for inspiration.

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There must be a road planner out there with soul who was responsible for this design but I suspect now long retired  as this goes back over 30 years. But who or what would I approach?  The UK Highways agency, the construction company which has probably undergone many changes since then, the local County Council? Surely it would go down as the most bizarre request received ever!

Whilst attributing inspiration is both respectful and in itself inspiring, in some cases as the MQG article says you need to apply common sense. It’s a thorny subject and one which I’m sure will invite further debate. In the meantime I’m writing to Cassandra!

Linking up with Cynthia for TGIFF at Quilting is more fun than housework (how so very true…)

Linking up to Nicky  at Mrs Sew and Sow as this is also a 2016 Q3 FAL finish – see here for my FAL list of targets