Sunday, 24 August 2014

A Traditional British Flower Show

Sunny weather, plenty of visitors, giant marrows, flower arrangements, glorious dahlias and home baking and knitting. A proper traditional Flower Show!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Crumbs, another year, GONE!

 It is Flower Show Weekend. Can't believe we are at Flower Show weekend already- the year has whizzed by. This evening I will be making my way down to the hall with my buckets of flowers to put together my final entry for the local Horticultural Flower Show. We will be moving away after 42 years- apart from four years in Holland- in the same small town. For most of those years I have been a visitor to the Flower Show and for at least the past ten years, since I got a good sized garden, an exhibitor. The past few years I have won a cup and it has become a bit of a challenge to try to win it every year- there was one lady I recall from my youth who won it every year for about ten years in a row...looks like I won't make it into double figures, but going to have a final try this Saturday. It is always fun going out early the day before picking for the display, everything is very well into early Autumn this year, so there will be plenty of seed heads and fruits in the arrangement.

On the appliqué front, I have finished the three blocks and put them together, making the first row of the "Runaway Sampler ' knee quilt.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Two panels out of three...

Tweaking to do on the first panel to get the positions right for machine quilting- I am making myself do machine quilting, partly as it is faster but also to stop myself being so cross/scared when machine quilting is required, the quilting I have done on this panel is pants, but I will do another and make it much more accurate! The second panel has three layers of appliqué and is working better than I thought it would. Back to sewing...

Monday, 18 August 2014

Needle turned applique: The Old versus The New

 I am teaching three classes at Lady Sew and Sew in September themed around Tracey Chevalier's 'Last Runaway' book ( she is giving a lecture there). All the classes are using traditional patterns and techniques, one is foundation piecing, one English Paper Piecing and one is Needle turned Appliqué. I am usually a bondaweb girl when it comes to appliqué, though I have done some needle appliqué, but on quite a large scale, small 'Baltimore' type motifs are new to me. I immersed myself in you-tube tutorials to size up all the available techniques. Liking a swift result, I was eager to find a 'fast' and nifty method of making the little motifs. Freezer paper is your best friend when making appliqué motifs but I have always baulked a bit at the cutting and removing stage of using paper, so removing the paper after pressing the turn under in position,  glueing the turned under edges then sewing appealed to me as a great technique- the removing tacking and paper stage is gone. Admittedly, I was not feeling well when I tried this over the weekend, I have a lovely sinus infection and my head was woolly and my eyes watery, but I soldiered on cutting my shapes, using paper templates to turn the edges under, snipping the edges to make them turn under neatly, then glueing them in position. Started sewing them yesterday, realised they were absolutely rubbish as the glue made tidying up imperfections with the needle as you sew pretty much impossible- and boy, were there imperfections! Decided to do it all over again the 'old fashioned' way this morning. I thought this would take way longer. Wrong. If anything, it was faster to tack the fabric onto the paper shapes, and boy, were the results better. I have a feeling the glue method would work fine for larger shapes, which I will be trying out later this week, but for me, for small shapes, the traditional method wins hands down- the photo says it all, stitch and paper on the left, glue on the right. There is a reason appliqué has been done the 'old' way for centuries...and it isn't only because the glue wasn't invented yet!


Arriving Early

Autumn. Yes, Autumn. The season is changing early this year. The Geese have arrived, five skeins of them honking past the window early one morning, the garden is full of the sound of Robins setting up their territories by singing and nagging at each other, the swifts are gone and the colours out there are on the turn. We are still weeks away from full-on Autumn, but the air has changed, the seasons have moved and with the cold North wind this morning it isn't only the cats looking longingly at the radiators! Fred spent much of yesterday huddled in his basket- when he wasn't pointedly leaning against a radiator- and Rita disappeared underneath the duvet on the spare bed. A bit of a change from only a few days ago when they were spending  leisurely afternoons lying on their backs with their legs in the air in the sunshine on the gravel of the drive. Mid August and seems like the only Summer we will get now will be an Indian Summer. Time to re-open the sock drawer and dig out the cardigans. I do hope it doesn't get too chill at night as my random tomato is about to really get into its stride and produce ripe fruits. Random tomato? Yes. No idea what sort it is, decided not to grow my usual greenhouse full of tomato plants this year as we are moving house and as it looked like this would happen in September, when the plants would be producing their crop, I decided that a glut of tomatoes to sort out at the same time as moving house might just be a bridge too, no tomato plants at all. One morning whilst watering my front door pots of phormiums and grasses I noticed a tiny tomato plant sneaking up from the compost. Being soft-hearted I left it, thinking 'it will never come to anything'. We then had a couple of weeks of really sunny hot weather and boy, did that plant grow FAST. Before I knew it it had flower buds and how could I resist the thought of a few fresh picked, home-grown tomatoes? It could be a baby from seeds in my compost heap from last year's tomatoes or it could be a seed from a shop tomato or it could be a completely random arrival. I love surprise plants, especially edible ones.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Festival of Quilts

 Almost recovered from four days at the Festival of Quilts. I stuck to my shopping list, despite forgetting to put it in my bag, saw LOADS of quilts, did some classes and as I was stewarding for a couple of hours most days met lots of lovely people as well as meeting up with some online sewing chums in the flesh- which is always great fun.
Which quilts really caught my eye? Well, there were an awful lot of quilts but the ones I really liked were definitely in the 'traditional' style, though playing with a modern interpretation and I for one would love to see some gallery space given over next year to an exploration of how traditional quilts are being re-interpreted, either by using really modern fabrics or playing with scale and arrangement- there is so much exciting stuff happening that has its roots in traditional piecing and I felt that there was a bit too much emphasis on experimental quilting- way into the art textile end of making- and that the balance needed to be redressed as many quilters still love going back to the roots of quilting design for their inspiration. Goreous though many of the things on show were, I did long to see a bit more 'trad' inspired work! the quality of my photos is pretty grim- the heavens opened on Sunday morning when I was going round before the show was open taking photos and the light levels were awful and I had my old camera without the anti- camera shake widget...

I love the 'cotton reel' block and this bright and cheery version with foundation pieced reels and applique and some chunky hand stitching really made my heart skip.

 A beautiful hexagon quilt- all hand pieced- the hand quilting on this one was beautiful.

This joyous quilt proves beyond doubt that one can never have too many spots and stripes in the stash. But especially spots!

Really simple piecing, loved the little buttons in the centre of each block and the controlled colour range. So restful.

This was a panel- smashing use of stitches and limited colour range and trapunto.

The technique of this quilt- which was a prize winner- was awesome. Stunning precision, inventive use of ric rac, fabulous use of levels of 'puff' and as for the immaculate edging and the use of! all this and jolly too- sometimes a quilt can be so technically perfect that it goes 'dead' but this one was all singing, all dancing. Fabulous.

I am a hand stitcher, but loved that machine stitched take on a whole cloth quilt- at least, it looked machine stitched- if it wasn't, hats off!

Not usually a fan of quilts made from old jeans, but this one used the faded denim so effectively.

So, which one would I bring home with me? The prize winning quilt was fabulous, but a bit scary- I could never let the cats near it- so I think the spotty wheels would be be a more sensible choice.
There was another glorious quilt all in cream and soft gold, but it was so badly lit I couldn't get a photo that did it justice, another quilt that no cat should ever get near to, but that I yearned for. So, spots it is!

Monday, 4 August 2014