Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Festival Finishes

At this year’s Festival of Quilts, I took two of the hour workshops which are designed as a “taster” to a technique. As expected given the time allocated, I did not finish the blocks in the workshops, but I was determined that these blocks should not be put away with all the unfinished block/projects from previous Festival of Quilts workshops.

After a couple of hours of sewing on a Sunday morning, I now have coaster for my mug at work and a slightly larger mug rug (or micro quilt) which has yet to find its home.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Festival of "Quilts"?

Last week I headed down to Birmingham for a two-day visit to Festival of Quilts. I had come away from last year’s Festival of Quilts feeling unenthused and was considering giving it a miss this year. When my first choice workshops were sold out prior to general release, I was all set not to go, but then I won a couple of tickets in a giveaway from Vive Books. So, I looked again at the workshops and there was still availability on a couple of the one hour workshops that were of interest and soon I had my trip planned.

My first workshop was at 10.30 which meant joining the back of a long (and growing) queue to wait for the doors to open at 10. Once the doors were open, the queue moved quickly and I was in the halls with 15 minutes to spare and just time to buy a few pieces of Liberty.
The workshop was for a Mini Mosaic Wedding Rose 7” block and I was a bit surprised to see no sewing machines in the room when the description mentioned machine piecing and it turned out that there was no sewing involved at all. The tutor had put in a lot of work preparing pre-sewn kits for us, but the only practical element to the class was cutting squares and fusing freezer paper and interfacing.

It was an interesting technique to learn and I bought some supplies from the tutor so I can try it at home, but I do wonder if this could just as easily have been taught as a demo and not workshop.

After the workshop, I made my way to the Kaffe Fassett gallery where some of his antique quilts were on display. The Festival of Quilts website had advertised that Kaffe Fassett would be presenting short tours of his quilts, but when I (and others) turned up at the advertised times, there was no sign of any tours going ahead (not surprising, given that we could see him doing book signings on a nearby stand).

The rest of my first day was spent wandering around the stands trying to stick to my fairly short shopping list. I had hoped to get some Aurifil 80wt thread as I had seen this was available in America, but there was none to be found and unfortunately it is not due in Europe until later this year. I did manage to get the other items on my shopping list: in addition to my earlier Liberty purchases, I bought some paper pieces for the Ballet quilt from the second Millefiori book, a few Kaffe Fassett scrap rolls, a dozen lace zips and some linen-look FQs (all at just £1 each) for a baby Bionic Gear Bag, and some FQs to fussy cut for a pieced hexagonweekly sew-along (though this is more a catch-up-along as I am several weeks behind).

My workshop on the second day wasn’t until lunchtime which meant I had time to meet up with @gillcrafty and to look at some quilts whilst trying to avoid any impulse purchases. I wasn’t entirely successful at this, though my purchases were limited to just some Tulip needles and a bit more Kaffe Fassett fabric. The Tulip needles were recommended to me by Gill and we were both delighted to discover that her needle of choice for EPP was now available in a large eye option.

Sewing looked more likely in my second workshop as there were sewing machines on the tables. This workshop was for foundation piecing, but without paper – instead a pre-printed fabric foundation was used. 

Again the tutor had put together comprehensive kits for us and there were Husqvarna helpers on hand for those not familiar with the machines. I didn’t quite have time to finish my block in the workshop, but I made good progress and only have the four final triangles to add.

Although I hadn’t intended it, both workshops were for ways of producing accurately pieced small blocks. However, when I saw some of the miniature quilts in the show, my workshop blocks were gigantic in comparison. This is the only quilt I took photos of and I was stunned by such sharp points on such a small scale.

For a post about a quilt show, I seem to have omitted to mention the quilts. As ever, there were many quilts on display which had been pieced and quilted using a variety of techniques, but as before I found many of the quilts to challenge my idea of what is a “quilt” and to be so beyond my skill set that I could not be motivated by them. However, this year there was a new category of “Modern Quilts” and it was in this section that I found the quilts that gave me most inspiration. Perhaps the reason this was that according to rules, it is for “quilts that are functional ...”.

Having to specify “functional” in the rules does make me wonder "When is a quilt not a quilt?" and perhaps I would be less niggled by the show if it were called “Festival of Quilted Wall Hangings and Shopping Opportunities”.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

A little Liberty project

After last month’s stash busting which saw 10 m of fabrics leave in the form of incubator covers, this month’s fabric clearance was on a much smaller scale and was more about scrap busting.

This was a quick and easy project for a collapsible thread catcher using some Liberty scraps that I had stitched together a few months ago and was wondering what to do with them. I used the tutorial from Fabric Therapy but adapted the sizes to fit my piece of scrap fabric. As the only Pringle tube in the house was still full of Pringles, I cut rings from a 2 L plastic bottle, shortened them by about an inch and taped two together to create the inner frame.

More stash busting is planned, this time for some pieced hexagons. Barbara Brackman has been running the Morris Hexathon for a few months so I’ve got a bit of catching up to do. I’ll be using EPP for these hexagons and with 4" sides they will make a change from my usual tiny hexies.

I started pulling fabrics from stash but the neighbour's cat had other ideas as to what these could be used for.

(This is not the usual cat who helps me with my sewing – this is his little mate who is learning bad habits!)

I might need a few extra FQs for fussy cutting, but I have a trip to Festival of Quilts next month so I am sure I will be able to find some there.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Some silk, some sewing, and some sowing

Another month gone and once again the garden has been battling with the sewing machine for my attention.

This month there was also the distraction of a trip to the Adamley silk sale just outside of Macclesfield. A small group of us headed down the Silk Road (figuratively and literally) and we didn’t come away empty handed. I bought a couple of roll ends at £10 each, a couple of leather hides at £5 each and a silk scarf for £5. As several of the rolls were very generous roll ends we held a swapping session in the car park, much to the amusement of the others attending. My final stash after swaps worked out at less than £1/metre and will be ideal for trying out new patterns.

The first pattern I tried with the silk was Vogue 8924. I lengthened the sleeves and modified the neckline and pockets, but I need to do something about the back as the large pleat isn’t doing me any favours.

The only other sewing I’ve managed to do are some incubator covers requested by the local Project Linus group. These had to be brightly coloured with a dark lining so I hope these will be OK. This was a good stash-buster and saw 10m of fabric leave my stash (though not nearly enough to compensate for all the silk).

In the garden, the big project was getting some one in to reduce the height of a large laurel tree. Now most of the tree has gone and the sunlight can get in again, I can finish off that flower bed and sow some grass seed to replace the section of the lawn that suffered in the shade.

There’s been a bit of planting too – a small herb bed by the back door. Luckily it appears that the slugs and snails are not interested in these plants, though they seem to have tried the sage but decided it is not to their taste.

A new table and chairs were also got for the garden and somehow we managed to pick one that comes with its own patchwork pattern should I decide they need cushions or a table cloth!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

So much sun, so little sewing

The sunny bank holiday weather meant I had to spend time tackling the garden rather than sat at the sewing machine. I did manage to stitch a couple of pairs of pyjama shorts using Liberty lawn from my stash, but that was all on the sewing front.

The back garden (well half the back garden) has gone from this

via this

to this

The shed is also looking a lot more organised which might encourage me finish off the other half of the garden.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Bags are like buses - two come along at once

Something rather unusual for me has happened – I’ve found a pattern I enjoyed sewing so much, that after finishing making one, I just had to make a second. The pattern in question is the Bionic Gear Bag by Sally Thompson (aka RipStitcher) and it is available from Craftsy. After buying the pattern, I joined the "Sew Much Nicer" Facebook Group for inspiration and tips, and watched the excellent video tutorials from Birdcage and Thread. Then it was a matter of picking fabrics and zips from stash and getting some super-duper needles (Microtex 90) to cope with all the layers.

I’m usually quite happy following a printed pattern, but on this occasion the videos made the whole process much clearer. My first bag was finished during a weekend of leisurely sewing, including an unscheduled trip to the shops for a couple of zips when I discovered that the zips in my stash were an inch too short, and the usual stops for hanging out the washing, cooking tea and letting the neighbour’s cat sit on my knee – all the things that get in the way of uninterrupted sewing time.

After making that bag and seeing just how much it could hold, I realised I would quickly forget what was in it, and started planning something a little different for a second bag. Some adjustment of the pattern was required in order to use lace zips which were an inch shorter than required and to remove the smaller front pocket. To check the re-sizing, I stitched a test version in paper and made some final alterations before cutting out the fabric.

The other major change was to use clear vinyl for the pockets so I can see what's in them. I also added some machine embroidery to the binding, though if I were to do this again, I would embroider the binding before stitching it to the bag!
It was only as I was stitching the zip tabs to the binding, that I realised my outer zip goes in the opposite direction to the inner zips. Oh well, better get planning my third Bionic Gear Bag, though I might be tempted to try the Baby Bionic Gear Bag first.