Kind of weird

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One of the unexpected pleasures of me making  quilts is getting the reaction of my teenage children in particular my 14 year old daughter. The boys I’m afraid either give me platitudes and or in the case of the 14 year old say something outrageous just to wind up his poor mum. He’s a 14 year old boy, what do you expect!!! But Anna is more considered and not given to easy platitudes, she likes being honest but is sweet enough not to want to hurt my feelings… So when I brightly ask her opinion there’s a heavy pause while she weighs up her response.  These are always priceless and useful when I have to come up with a name for the quilt because it’s going to a quilt show so this quilt is called [It’s] Kind of Weird.

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This quilt is destined for the display area that the Modern Quilt Group of the UK Quilters’ Guild have been given at this year’s Festival of Quilts, the biggest and most prestigious festival of its type in the UK. This is quite a big deal and the pressure is on to fill it with hopefully inspiring quilts to  engage and enthuse the largely traditional quilters that go to this event. The tireless organisers led by Kate Percival have set the theme of Cottonopolis, which I have to say I’d not heard before, but is the nickname given to Manchester in connection with its cotton manufacturing  past. The sub theme within that is the music and musical groups of Manchester.

There are a growing number of challenges to members of this group with I guess the aim to fill this large area to the brim! Well I’ve done my bit. The main challenge relating to Mancunian music  requires you to make a 24″ square quilt based on a given  music group band and/or their song. Those up for the challenge, to give them plenty of potential for inspiration, were each given the name of two Manchester bands and two of their songs.

For my first quilt the band was Oasis, and yes I had heard of them, and the song title Cloudburst. I made this quilt blogged here

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I’ve chosen to make another quilt simply as a back up and if there is space in the display area. I wanted to reuse this particular pattern which is the January block by Liz  Harvantine and had a blank wall at home  that I want filling. So it is a very expedient quilt and certainly not just made  for this quilt display   To be frank that was the driver I then had to work out quite how this quilt designand fabric choice would fit in with my music band The Chemical Brothers, and no I hadn’t heard of them or their particular song.

Well looking at the earlier version I made a couple of years ago…

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…..it struck me that the middle motif looks a bit like a flask on its side of the type you would typically find in a chemistry lab. Yes I agree it’s a bit of a push! But with the use of fabric with chemistry symbols on it I thought it would do just about fit the name of the band. Okay, hands up, there is no reference to the brothers but give me some artistic license please!

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When I made this pattern before I was relatively early in my quilting journey and I did it in an open class with Joy Edgington of New Pastures  Quilting.  This proved a wise decision because you do need to both cut and then sew the curve quite accurately for all the elements to match up when you put the 4 x 12″ blocks together. Joy, as a quilting teacher of many years standing,  had the expertise of knowing what to do to make these pieces fit together.   But rather smugly I thought two years on with at least three or four curved quilts under my belt making this quilt should be a much easier task. So I was somewhat confounded to find that my beloved curvemaster foot, which normally helps me achieve curves without pins, proved useless. It eventually dawned on me, and it really should have been a much quicker thought process that it proved to be, that the problem was using batiks.

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Using batiks in quilting rather divides the quilting world. There are those that love their multi tones  and often brilliant colours and others that don’t. I’m probably more in the latter category and as a consequence do not possess any batiks. But of course these Alison Glass’  modern handcraft range  are batiks but their very modern and fresh style is in contrast to most batiks I’ve come across  so I’d forgotten. The thing with batiks, I have since discovered, is that they generally have a much firmer weave and are therefore quite stiff. They don’t take to being pulled and stretched when doing a curve in the same way as other cotton fabrics. But they do have one very major plus. They are marvellous to iron and make wonderfully crisp edges and folds so for precision piecing I’d imagine they would be very suitable

Once I had sussed this the obvious way forward for me was using glue. My new best friend is sewline glue sticks. It proved very easy to get accurate curves without pins. The only downside is that it does make that seam thicker because of the adhesive and the quilt when finished being pieced needed to be washed to get the glue out.

To justify the theme of The Chemical Brothers I used the chemistry equation fabric in both a mottled white and grey positioned so it looked like liquid in the ‘flask’ and another fabric with symbols on it that looked vaguely reminiscent of chemistry symbols from my ‘O’ level Chemistry which I passed by a whisker donkey years ago.

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I took the opportunity to include some fabrics I love for their subtle interest and quirkiness.  A piece of London map fabric which shows the route I take (well almost) to my parent’s home, some olde world map fabric and some map contours.  That latter fabric which whilst I love from a distance looks if the material is creased and folded in on itself. And my favourite ‘Maker ‘ fabric.

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To get the quilt to feel balanced I cut and placed the pieces up on my design wall. The outer pieces were cut over sized. Understandably the quilt display organisers want the quilts to be exactly the right size so I built in some wriggle room.

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In the end whilst there was some remedial work to do on a couple of the blocks to ensure the curves met reasonably smoothly it wasn’t too major.  Overall I was pleased with the accuracy.

IMG_5487But smugness aside when looking for quilting inspiration at other quilts made with this block  I came across quilters who have made full-size quilts including 56, yes 56, of these blocks all beautifully connecting. I am absolutely in awe of that as that would take me for ever – it would be a truly epic quilt.

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linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean at Crazy MomQuilts

TouchDraw and scraps

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My scrap jars were once again fit to burst and with the need to reduce some pressure before they shattered I decided that  as a high priority my next project must include scraps. The stars aligned as it is scraptastic Tuesday next week and I  wanted to make at least one if not two table toppers for Jennifer who last year started  a wonderful initiative of making bags and table toppers for the children that come over from the region of  Belarus and Russia impacted by the Chernobyl disaster. It’s  a long standing charity that provides month long holidays for children from this region. Jennifer thought it would be a great idea, together with the organiser, to give each child a handmade tote bag and a table topper to take home with them.

Last year I made these items. I’d like to do the same and I suspect the bag will also be made of denim as it proved quite a successful make. Even my daughter approved, not enough to have one of her own of course, but she said it was okay!

 

 

I know the deadline isn’t until June but I don’t like it being too tight and this gave me a perfect excuse to play with scraps and make something for Jennifer.  I dug out a selection of pink and lilac scraps, so much not my personal colour choice, but I was intrigued to see how they would work with this design.

It’s a design I copied using an ipad app called TouchDraw that allows you to do as it says which is draw by touch.  I have long wanted an ipad tool to play with shapes and designs with the ability to colour them in. For some reason I don’t enjoy drawing with felt tips on paper. There is of course the Grandaddy of all quilt design tools which is EQ 7.  This is incredibly powerful and I know it’s used a lot by serious professional quilters but by all accounts, as with any sophisticated software, mastering it is a very steep learning.  Abigail of Cut and Alter has  recently purchased a copy and is making great progress but she is an altogether more superior quilter than me and has a very creative and original design edge. I just wanted to play and didn’t want to invest the time in something as sophisticated as EQ7 or for that matter the c£150 it would cost!  I was therefore intrigued by Lynn Galsworthy of the Lilys Quilts who showed me at the recent Thread House retreat, along with others, how she uses TouchDraw, a real bargain at around £10, to do all her design work including submissions to magazines.

It’s so much easier to learn something like this when somebody can show you. Lynn patiently demonstrated the sorts of things that can be done with it so that even when you’re left to your own devices after the event, you know what the app can do, so it’s just a question of remembering how. Anyway after a play and I came up with these.

 

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It was then easy to prep a pattern and very quickly paper piece these blocks. All scraps so yes the pressure on those jars has diminished a little…. for quilting I went with my trusty masking tape which makes it easy to get straight lines. I have tried a hera marker and I know many people like this for straight line quilting but I had read recently that sometimes you can make too much of a mark such that it won’t come out but the problem for me is I can never quite see clearly enough the guide lines where of course yellow masking tape is hard to miss! I do love the texture on this one and of the design I think is quite effective and very quick.

 

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I do love the texture on this one and of the design I think it’s quite effective and very quick to do.

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Linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation, Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts and Nicky and Leanne at scraptastic  Tuesday. 

The wrong sex…

I have a young friend who is pregnant. It’s quite unusual for me now to have friends who are pregnant – simply a generation thing. Most of my peers have children on the verge of adulthood or grown up and flown away. But  with a few exceptions, they have so far resolutely refused to have children. Mind you I’m hardly an example of early parenthood as I was 39 when I had my eldest but not entirely through  choice.

 

So back to Monika this was a great excuse to make a quilt and I duly bought on sale some very reasonably  priced fabric for a blue quilt. I fancied doing a very simple hst quilt rather like the signature quilts of Rita of Red Pepper Quilts.    I’d always liked Elizabeth Hartman’s Pacific line and there was a special offer at new to me online fabric retailer Olive and Flo Handcraft.  I would have ordered two charm packs but I had the last one, but also had some lovely fabric from that range for the backing and a nice blue stripe.  It arrived beautifully wrapped, with a handwritten note from Saira, just lovely.

 

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In fact the stripe was such a nice width and I do make a lot of  blue quilts that I ordered more and added in some April Rhodes Observer fabric. Such lovely muted colours… and of course beautifully wrapped again….

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Why was I so certain it was a boy? It’s just that Monika was so sick with this pregnancy and wasn’t with her first child a girl so I was pretty confident. Even to the point that getting the top done was going to be One Monthly Goal for Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  But then the text…

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Of course it’s wonderful news whatever the sex, not all pregnancies, sadly, end happily so it was a happy text just it rather scuppered my sewing plans… Yes I do have some pink fabric  but  possibly not enough for a girl’s version. I will be going back to the planning board on that one. So my One Monthly Goal for March will instead be to quilt this top which has been hanging around too long (as you can see from the Autumnal foliage) and deserves to be finished off.

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Silk ties

 

 

img_5422Kim of Persimon Dreams has another Project Quilting theme this week which is well dressed men. This theme has to be interpreted in a quilt form. I always check out the theme to see whether it sparks anything and then if it does think ahead whether I have got the time to actually make something within the allotted week.  Well this week when I was mulling over the theme and thinking of well dressed men I was reminded that in the loft there was a box of my late husband’s ties. Not all of them by any means. He had a typical working wardrobe of dark charcoal suits and smart ties to meet UK corporate expectations and that combined with a bit of a tendency to hoard there were dozens and dozens of ties. But I kept the ones that I liked the most and were silk thinking that one day they might come in useful. It became very clear that as our two sons weren’t going to want to wear them (I have offered them up on the rare occasion they have to wear suits but they look appalled) so I felt it okay to dismember some of them and see what fabric I’d got.

To be frank I am a bit ambivalent about using clothes from family members that have died. On one hand I think it can be very touching, literally, as a momento of that individual but on the other hand is it mawkish? I have kept a lot of Nigel’s old shirts, not his work shirts that were uniformly white, he wouldn’t wear anything else, but his casual shirts and I have attempted to make a quilt with them but for a variety of reasons it hasn’t been completed. That ambivalence again. But with this challenge I thought it would be something small, given the time constraints, and it would not use too much of the material if it didn’t work out or I just didn’t like what I made so why not?

Then looking at the ties in more detail I noticed that they were all very similar. No one could ever say that Nigel was cutting edge when it came to fashion! Nor me for that matter. And if I’m honest many of those ties would have been bought by me so that rather consistent dark red with the occasional blue was very much the norm. So I tried to select the ones that had the most contrast.

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You can see from this picture of Nigel taken at our nanny’s wedding in 2006,  the year before he died, he’s still sticking to his favourite deep red!

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Then to choose the design. I decided that sewing silk together would be quite difficult.  I’m so used to sewing with cotton which sticks nicely to each other that slippery fabrics are a bit of a nightmare. So I thought the best way forward was a paper-based foundation block.

Going through the patterns I came across one by flying parrot quilting.com called the kite block. It’s a free craftsy pattern.  I liked the fact that it was quite minimal in design, that it would show off the fabrics but not too gaudily. I chose a plainish background fabric. I’d normally go for a patterned one but I wanted it to be quite minimal looking and crisp.

This is what disembowelled ties look like and the amount of material you have left is quite substantial.

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I pieced the blocks in batches and pre cut the individual pieces for speed and accuracy.  For once I was very organised and the 18 pieced blocks came together quite quickly. The silk was a bit tricky but being foundation pieced made a big difference oh that and glue! When a seam was being particularly difficult I used a glue stick to secure it. Not text book I grant you but it worked!!

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With the quilting I wanted it to have simple texture to go with the stark design. I did a fake trupunto effect by putting behind each piece of silk an extra piece of wadding in that skewed L shape then just quilted the outline.

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I couldn’t resist some ghost shapes…  I love how the silk shines in the sun.

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Well there is plenty more material – as I say ties generate a fair bit. And I’ve had the satisfaction of another box  being emptied from the loft even if most of it has found its way to my sewing room!

Linking up with Project Quilting, My Quilt Fascination and Crazy Mom Quilts

 

 

Those pesky angles…

 

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Quite early on in my quilt journey I tackled half square triangles (hst)and made this quilt for a friend’s first grandchild. They were reasonably easy although I’m sure a few points got lost on the way so I thought I’d progress to half  rectangle triangles.

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Now my basic maths knowledge recognised that these would be more tricksy because the angle of a half rectangle triangle (hrt), where the sides will be two different lengths, will vary whereas for a hst its always 90 degrees. Well I thought I got this sussed but sadly not.  They ended up all over the place in terms of size…. I used the tutorial on the Modern Quilt Guild i.e. went to the experts, but their method didn’t work for me. I started making these but then got distracted but I have this quilt in mind for a child, not one of mine, the colourway is a million miles away from theirs, so I want to get that finished sometime soon. You can see from the diamonds made that there is inconsistent piecing so points would be lost. Oh and they are all supposed to be the same size….

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I should have persevered but went the easy route which was to buy a die for my Accuquilt. Then with perfect cut pieces with neatly cut off corners you can more easily match the edges – in theory. But I never tested the theory as I’d lost heart but recently, wanting to get back to that quilt, I thought the design would look good on a long cushion for the bed. It would be a good test of whether I’d improved and get some practice in to make these blocks. So  I blew the dust off the die, cut a bunch of pieces and then sewed them together to check whether I had actually got more accurate and/or using die cut pieces was more fool proof. Well one of those statements is true because this time they came out with 1/4″ seams and points to match. I found carefully pressing the seams so they locked when you butted them up against each made a huge difference.

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it wasn’t all plain sailing as you have to remember that you can’t just switch them round like a hst so they still fit, those pesky angles again, you have to have enough sewn pieces with the seam going each way. So in the picture below the four pieced together hrt will not fit together to make a diamond because the seam goes right to left. They need four hrt with the seam running the other way.

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It also occurred to me, which it certainly wouldn’t have done a couple of years ago, that I need a pressing plan. In other words a clear diagram on which way to press seams so at the overlapping points they all fold over neatly not get bunched up.  So it’s been a useful exercise.

I used two layers of batting on the front to accentuate the quilting but it is such a stuffed pillow that you can’t really see the padded effect. By contrast the back is from the head board material and I wanted to quilt this but it was so stiff the quilting lines didn’t show. I’m not complaining, that saved me 30 minutes of sewing on a busy day

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I found it was quite time consuming piecing on the angle and I’d need well over 100 hrt to make a mid sized quilt. I may need to think about some sashing or playing with the design. Or of course cut my own hrt but using a bigger size than the die. Now that really would see whether I’d improved. I must have a play.

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Linking up with Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts  who has own beautiful quilt on her blog.

A very self indulgent post

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All quilters with cats know that cats and quilts go together. They have this sixth sense when a quilt is being laid out and are there to curl up on it in a trice. So it’s quite hard to get a quilt picture without one of our two cats photo bombing it unashamedly. Even when it’s just a couple of small blocks there they are preening themselves for a photo. Well very sadly our lovely grey cat Minty won’t be doing any more quilt photo shoots, as a collision with a car and even with nine lives it wasn’t enough to save him. I doubt if he knew anything about it and he’d had a good life albeit at nearly 6 years old it was too short.

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I’m certainly not blaming the driver, Minty was the colour of tarmac and frankly not the brightest of cats. We agonised about him becoming an outdoor cat because he wasn’t let out other than on a harness for the first two years with us but he spent much of his indoor life plotting to escape. His best trick was to hang back when the doorbell rang waiting for it to open and while I’d be dealing with the visitor he’d  dash through our legs then make a break for freedom. I could see from his increasingly irritable behaviour that the frustration of being kept in was telling on him so in the end, on the basis that it’s quality of life not quantity that counts, we let him out.  I don’t regret that for an instant, with his ears pricked forward and his tail upright as he ventured outside he loved the freedom and excitement of being able to explore and hunt. I think we will see more birds at our bird feeder now.

 

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While I have no regrets about that decision I’m grateful that our other cat Skye isn’t as keen to go outside and if she does get out through curiosity so far she’s kept close to the house whereas Minty would dash away as fast as his legs could carry him!

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He is very much missed and I can’t believe I won’t see his face at the window asking to be let in again. It is all a bit of a shock  but as this blog is my quilting journal and Minty was part of it I thought this quilt tribute  would be fitting and mark this sad time.

 

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Tax Avoidance

 

 

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I’ve  been a bit wary of provocative titles since a post back in October last year entitled The Exploitation of Orphans caused a charity supporting orphans in Africa to sign up!! I felt quite bad about it but clearly no one had read the actual  post because they would have realised very quickly that it was all about orphan blocks. So with this post about a quilt that was done largely when I should have been preparing my tax return I avoided the quilt title tax evasion,  which in the UK is an illegal activity, and went with tax avoidance  which is entirely legitimate provided it’s through a proper arrangement.  I did not want to attract any unnecessary attention when it comes to matters like tax…

But the sorry truth is that this quilt was a great diversion from the tedious job of pulling together all the information needed for my tax return. And anything to avoid knuckling down to fill in endless spreadsheets.  But my tax return had to be completed by the end of January which was achieved (the £100 fine for a late return might have been an encouragement) and this quilt wasn’t finished until mid February so in the end I did get my priorities right.

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This was another one of those quilts that was inspired by someone else’s creativity. Poppy of Cuckoo Blue had on her Instagram feed some lovely blocks of bright colours paired with random low volume fabrics. Her finished quilt and tutorial is on her blog in the link. It’s stunning. Poppy would be the first to admit this block is not original but her blending of brights  and low volume just appealed to me .

With my scraps mounting I already had a plan to make use of them but this caught my eye and the other  quilt idea was abandoned. Incidentally for readers in harsher climates this rather pathetic amount of snow is the sum total we have had in middle England. I rushed out to get a snow picture before it melted hence the poor light. 30 minutes later it had gone …. I have very disappointed children .

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But back to the block it’s perfect for using scraps because it only requires squares of 4 1/2 inch and 2 1/2 inch. I had the right sized dies for my Accuquilt so I was away. I wanted to make the top entirely out of scraps and  I had sufficient cool colours  like greys, blues, greens and vaguely blue/green to make this quilt and indeed enough left over blocks, more or less, to make up a small cot quilt. It’s very satisfying  almost like making a bonus quilt.

The other great advantage of this block design is that it is perfect for chain piecing and it was a very quick make in practice.  It would’ve been even quicker if I hadn’t had to do my tax return! Or for that matter feed the cats!

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It’s quite a busy quilt so I didn’t want to add further busyness  by complicated quilt patterns. So I went for an all over pattern using free motion quilting and a loop to loop design  and kept to the existing columns to keep the scale the same. I tend to find it hard to keep the size and spacing consistent in an all over design without some constraining lines. The quilting is a bit denser than I would normally use but with Orient batting from Quilters Dream it still has a reasonable drape.

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And it was a pleasure to quilt. Not too big at 70″ by 60″ but thanks to the tender ministrations of Tom from my local quilt shop, The Cotton Patch, the nightmare experience of constantly breaking threads and missed stitches of this quilt  from last year was a thing of the past. For the princely sum of £60 ish, I forget exactly, the machine had a very overdue service. I was gently reminded that quilting with wadding creates very much more fluff than ordinary sewing so a professional defuzz is required. I must get in the habit of an annual service. There is no excuse, the sewing shop is all of 10 minutes drive and the machine back usually within the week. When it came to the quilting clearly it wasn’t just a pleasure to me …..

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This has got to be one of my favourite quilts – I love the sheer variety of fabrics and colours within the cool range I chose. The odd splash of pink or lime green adds to it’s eclecticism. Is that a word? You get the drift.

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It’ll be put to use in my sewing room which has a bed in it and doubles up as a spare bedroom. But I’ve now officially run out of beds to cover in quilts… except no 2 son who would like a new quilt as his old is too small and much damaged through careless use.  Sigh….. but he’s chosen such a boring design. But I must get on with this but after the curtains are finished another boring sewing task. Well I guess it can’t all be fun !

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This is my February OMG for Patty at Elm Street Quilts

Linking up with Leanne and Nicky at Scraptastic  Tuesday and  Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation , Amanda Jean at crazymomquilts and TGIFF.

It’s curtains for me…

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Yes it is quite literally curtains for me. Long overdue curtains for our front room which is supposed to be the teen lounge.   So far they refuse to use it because with no curtains and facing the road they feel they are being stared at. It’s nonsense as the house is set back but I guess with dark evenings and the lights on there is a sense of being in a goldfish bowl.

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Its a mystery to me that despite loving sewing, duty sewing always falls off the list… after all it’s fabric and sewing but still curtains are boring and cumbersome. This is for a large bay window and I’m going to adapt some ready made curtains but which come with eyelets and I need a different curtain heading. It seemed such a good idea when I bought them…which was 5 months ago. But I must brace myself…

So I have two One Monthly Goals my own personal goal of these curtains and one with Patty at Elm Street Quilts which will be  much more fun finishing off this scrap quilt.

img_5158img_0065It needs basting and then quilting. Don’t be surprised if the quilt comes first…..

Linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts  for February’s One Monthly Goal  

 

Texture and a bit of plaid

So for something completely different….. textured plaid

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One of the blogs I follow is Persimon Dreams and Kim holds  a quilt challenge that runs for the first few months of each year, this is season 8, where a theme is given on the Sunday and you have to produce a finished quilt within a week then the following week there is voting. Then another challenge is announced 2 weeks later and so on.

Now it doesn’t have to be a full sized quilt and the majority are mini quilts but still involving many, many hours of work. It amazes me how many quilters fit this challenge in every couple of weeks. I want their lives!!! But for me I check out the theme and see whether it sparks something or gives me the excuse to play with something new. Like last year one of the challenge themes  was confetti and I’d been itching to play with this technique where you cut up fabric and then lump it back together a bit like a collage. The resulting quilt was this picture of Skye our lilac cat.

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Well this last Sunday the theme was texture and looking for inspiration as I sat on the sofa casting around for inspiration the first thing I saw was my kindling basket and it reminded me that I’d wanted to have a go at weaving with bias tape

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Weaving has been around for ever and this type of weaving is basically the same as weaving with ribbons but using bias tape. A couple of quilters Mister Domestic and t_jaye@com have really developed this idea. The link to Tara gives some very useful information on this technique and her invention the Wefty. Both blogs and their IG pages give some super examples.

It’s quite a simple concept but much more time consuming than I first thought and a bit tricksy. It involves a gazillion pins, yards and yards of bias tape and a foam board and the acceptance that for the duration of the creative bit there will be a room in your house of absolute chaos.  Even my children moaned about the mess!!!!

Having played with this yep of weaving I’d add these tips. I used foam board with 5mm thickness if I could have got thicker board it would’ve been better.

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Always remember to put a light weight fusible on the foam board first, I didn’t with my first as you can see above.  You then have to manoeuvre a very flexible bit of weaving onto the fusible after it’s been constructed which meant lots of reconstruction…

Getting the weft and warp tape as tight as per possible also helps but maintaining that tension was difficult. I found inserting pins at the cross over point, you can see a few here, helped but then I would have needed even more pins and I’d run out by then.

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Using homemade bias tape whilst in theory a quick process using these…..

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…but in practice I found it hard, even with a hot iron, to make the folds of the tape stay in place. I was using 1/2″ tape mostly so it was thin which didn’t help. Starch would have helped I’m sure but I hate the smell and residue. And with the benefit of hindsight using half inch tape to start with was perhaps a bit too ambitious.

You can buy a Wefty to do the actual weaving….

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but I wanted the 1″ and 1/2″ size and wasn’t sure I’d get them in time and I wanted to get on with the process as soon as possible. So I constructed one from a piece cut out of a plastic milk bottle. Mind you being transparent meant I kept losing it in all the mess so with the next one I cut it out on the label side of the milk bottle. It worked very well and saved me a few pounds!!!

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Other than that it was just patience and practice. A basting stitch round the edge once it was fused to the interfacing kept the edges together  then it was just basted into a quilt sandwich and bound.

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I made a couple. My first one has a looser weave as I went over every two threads. It wasn’t as effective and it would be completely impractical other than for a wall hanging as the weft and warp threads keep moving each other. You can see the wobble factor!!

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I had more success with the second one where the weft and warp go over one thread so it’s inherently tighter and also using pins to secure the cross over points was helpful and stopped the shift. I used prints this time which I think adds interest. So this one is staying up, well it will do when I’ve put a hanging sleeve on it.

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As an aside anyone who has been to  my house will be smirking because they will know that this hall table never looks like this in real life. Piles of letters, papers, thank you cards, a piece of maths homework that shouldn’t be there but in someone’s school bag, telephone holder and Internet equipment etc etc had to be removed to stage this picture.  And that lovely bowl as an accent piece? In fact it’s a papier-mâché bowl made by one of the twins aged eight. Plenty of arty and craft stuff comes home from school all  received with maternal pride and an encouraging word but with this  one I was truly wowed!

An outtake shot of Skye quilt inspecting….

IMG_5284.JPGLinking up with Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts, Myra at Busyhandquilts and Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation and

A tutorial- how to ensure your quilt will have a colour run disaster

I have never had success in getting the colours to run in any of the quilts I’ve washed. And boy in my house where quilts are regularly  used and abused is washing a frequent event. However that all changed with this beauty when an accident with mud and tea (don’t ask…) meant a wash was essential. So I thought I’d do a quick tutorial on how to ensure as much as you possibly can that you get that elusive colour run…

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1. Choose your fabric colours carefully.  A pale but interesting quilt like this one made of good quality but mostly unsaturated colours is less likely to run.

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Better to choose dark colours, reds are perfect. But the almost cast iron guarantee to colour run I’ve found is using a dark red flannel backing.

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2. Choose your design carefully. This may sound obvious but if you make a quilt solely from red or dark flannel fabric such as the one below then of course the colours may run (hurray) but into each other and not show (boo). You need to include a pale preferably white/cream for maximum effect.

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3. Do not use colour catchers, let all that loose dye do its business. I did use colour catchers, quite a few, but whilst they came out very pink there was obviously too much loose colour for them to contain

4. Use a small domestic sized washing machine for a very large quilt, even better if it has built in water and energy saving features. What this means is that your quilt will sit for a significant amout of time completely immobile, absolutely sodden and all squashed up giving plenty of opportunity for the red fabrics to touch the white ones.

5. Put your quilt in a tumble dryer without checking

If you follow these tips you should find a quilt that close up looks like this and has a lovely patchy pinkish hue!

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Of course this tongue in cheek tutorial is a rather sorry and cautionary tale in how not to do something. I love the flannel backing on this quilt but next time it will be the palest they do….after all you can’t see it in normal use. The quilt has largely been rescued I’m pleased to say by the use of all these…..

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When I realised that one of the culprits is my A rated energy saving washing machine I took it to our local launderette to use their big drum machine, which is quite possibly older than me, with the latest colour run treatment and that worked well. I’m pleased air drying has left the flannel as soft as before and it has the most gorgeous crinkly effect.

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Which leads me to the contentious area of pre- washing fabric to eliminate the risk of colour runs.   Quilters and I’m guessing dressmakers as well fall into two camps on this topic. I don’t pre wash as I don’t fancy the extra work, I like the shrinkage and crinkly effect it makes (which I accept for dressmakers is a big no no), I like the feel of unwashed fabric and I’ve found in this sad tale that the red flannel just kept giving up red dye! So prewashing may take away some of the loose dye but from my experience it isn’t eliminated with just one wash.

One huge advantage of going through these trials and tribulations is that I’ve learnt loads and I have certainly fallen in love with woollen batting as a practical choice.  I genuinely have lost count of how many times the quilt has been washed and yet it’s still warm and cosy  and any doubts about how washable a wool batting is have been well and truly banished.