Sunday, 19 April 2015

Craft: Quilting: Bird Qilt: Part 4

I sewed the piano key strips to the bird panels, one strip at each side. This, as I mentioned previously, was to widen the quilt as I felt it was too long and narrow. I tried to use colours which complimented the colours in the panels.

I then added a border of the blue/grey flower fabric. Same one I used for cornerstones. It was then time to make the quilt sandwich. I struggle with this as it's tricksy getting the layers to stay flat and not bunch up. This is not a huge quilt though so managed sort of to my satisfaction. I taped the backing fabric to the table which helped though next time I will pull it tighter. I've also bought some large clips to try.


I ironed it again and then moved some of the pins to get the backing even more flat. I started the quilting part by 'stitching in the ditch' down and across all the panels. I like to start and fasten off by setting the stitch length to 0 then sew a few stitches in the same place. I also leave a tail of thread and, at the end, go through and put a knot in it and pull through wadding layer. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

York Quilt Museum and Gallery

Today we visited York. Hans and Peter went to a guitar shop and I went to the York Quilt Museum and Gallery. It's a small exhibition space but very beautiful. They have a shop downstairs and the quilts upstairs. I found it very inspirational. Partly because the quilts were beautiful but also because not every one was perfect. We are our own worse enemies when it comes to our work. I agonise over every wonky seam and uneven block. Some of the quilts I saw today had small issues too. But this didn't detract from how wonderful they were. In fact it added to the wonder. I felt a greater connection to those women (and men) who had made mistakes then I did to the more perfect examples. It made the maker of the quilt more real and human. They live on in their work.
I also got some great ideas. I'm kicking myself now as I didn't take a notebook in with me (next time!). You can't take photographs of the quilts but what I should have done is taken a notebook and pencil and written down some of the methods and ideas which impressed and inspired me and also the names of the people who make each quilt.
Two things stick in my memory as something I want to try: sequins and wrong way round paper piecing. The sequins were sewn in the centre of hexagons in the Star of David quilt which had been machine sewn rather than hand sewn. The sequins anchored each hexagon in a way I'd not seen before. Two other quilts, by the same person, were made up of tiny squares (1 inch?) which had been paper pieced but instead of each square having it's right side facing out some were turned the other way so the back was showing. It added a really interesting texture and also an effective distribution of shade and colour.
I bought some fabric (of course) and a couple of books. One from my endless Wish List; The 1718 Coverlet by Susan Briscoe. The quilt is one of the earliest known dated patchworks. The book gives its history then a block directory so you can make some (all!!!) of the blocks yourself. I am not kidding myself I will ever have the time to do them all, and I'm not sure I would ever want to, but I do want to try at least a few. I have the vague idea of recreating them in very different fabrics to the original. It's a very vague idea at the moment though.
Here is a photo of it. I don't want to recreate it as the original is lovely but I do think I'll have a go at some of it, maybe for a cushion cover.

A final thought though: quilts are works of art. They are designed and thought out, colour and shape and form are considered, they are created and stand the test of time. Yet they are seen as 'sewing' or something for the home. They are both these things, of course, but in addition the are art. Art with a function (the best kind of all in my opinion). I can't help but ponder that if quilting had been a male occupation, done for pleasure not practical purposes, then they would be hanging in galleries next to Van Gough and Monet.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Craft: Quilting: Hexagon Quilt. Part 1.

OK, so this one has been on the go for ages. A couple of years at least. It was what got me started with the quilting in the first place. I read about English Paper Piecing and it jogged my memory to when I was a teenager and I had an interest in patchwork.
I bought Tacha Bruecher's excellent book Hexa go-go. My first project from it was a pair of placemats; yes, a reasonable way to launch into the world of patchwork. They turned out quite well (I use them so that's a mark of success) so looked for Quilting Project 2. And, of course, chose one of the biggest quilts in the book. As I am insane. A double bed size take on a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. 804 hexagons to hand sew. Then strips and panels and quilting. Oh yes.  
I started off by cutting out 804 1 1/2 inch hexagons. That in itself was a huge task as I found it tricky to get accurate sized hexagons. I tried printing them out from my computer but that didn't always give me accurate hexagons. I eventually opted for making templates out of a plastic folder and marking round them onto paper then cutting them out. I then cut out the required number of fabric squares and tacked them to the paper templates. All 804 of them.
The centre of each EPP block is a hexagon flower so I made 12 of those. I tried to vary the fabric so there is a good selection.

Then plain fabric hexagons were sewn to the flower. I have various colours in shades of blue, yellow and green, and also white. (Yes, that's the Bow Baby Blanket there).

Then the remaining patterned hexagons were sewn and a final border of the white hexagons. I have to do 12 of these in total. I have done 10 so far.
As I reached the 8th or 9th block I realised I had no idea how I would move onto the next steps once they were all finished. I didn't want to practise on such a large (and expensive when I calculate all the fabric and whatnots I have bought) piece. So this is why I made the Charm Square Quilt and got interested in the Bird Quilt. I do feel ready to tackle this larger hexagon one now and am also considering quilt as you go (Tacha advises this quilt lends itself well to that technique and nothing ventured nothing gained).

The plan is to finish all 12 blocks and finish the Bird Quilt. At that point I should be ok with what I need to do with this one.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Craft: Quilting: Bird Quilt. Part 3

I've been steaming ahead full speed with this one. Patchwork and quilting using a sewing machine is super quick. Last time I posted I had sewn the bird panels together but was not happy with the dimensions. It was too long and thin. Also I had miscalculated my fabric so needed another trip to High Street Quilting .

While there I purchased the wadding too as poor Hans will be fed up of Saturdays in quilting shops.

I pre washed and dried the wadding as I don't want that crinkly effect for this quilt. It does look lovely usually but I've designed this one around the bird panels so I want them to be as clear as possible.

To widen the quilt top I decided to sew a border down each side. I went for 'Piano Keys'  to pick up some of the colours in the quilt and also because the other quilting project I have on the go needs me to do that so I thought it would be good practice.

I used the cream and grey/blue fabric already in the quilt and a red one, a brighter blue and a yellow. I cut them into 3½ by 2½ inch strips (10 strips for each colour).

I then sewed them together in 2 strips. These have now been sewn down each side of the quilt. I haven't taken  a photo yet but will do that before I do the next part.


Craft: Crochet: Baby Blanket Bows Part 3

After some consideration, and a lengthy consultation session with Peter Cameron, Style Guru to the Crochet Stars, I decided not to sew on the flowers and leaves. No matter how I arranged them they looked too busy. The bows themselves take up most of the space so I was having to lay flowers over bows and it all looked too much.

I am going to leave it as it is. I'm quite happy with it however next time I will join the squares using a woven seam, either through both sets of stitches or through just the outer ones. That way I'll have a slightly raised area around each block to make it look neater but not as raised as when I double crochet them together.