It’s been a week of dyeing. In my penultimate post before the Festival of Quilts 2018, I would like to show you some of the fabrics I have been dyeing for the show. All unique, all hand dyed, mostly one-offs.
I must admit not only is it a feat to be dyeing this quantity here in my kitchen and get it dried and ironed, but it has also taken it out of me and as I write, I am not feeling well. I have a little more to do and then I will relax before the show. Some of these fabrics are very large pieces and I think it is handling them when wet that is the problem for me.
Nevertheless I am cheered by the results. There is a lovely one drying at the moment. Mainly procion dyed, but also some turmeric dyed calico, I just love that sunshine colour. It is so happy.
I also managed to finish the three OBW quilts and write the tutorial, so that is great news too. It went up online today.
I pinned one new quilt to the design wall, this needs a design and some cutting I think. However, my main objective is to get the first quilt finished that I started for the show last November. I did not like what I had done and it was not until this week that the answer finally hit me. It also needed more hand stitching and with not feeling well, I have had to go slow. I am resigned to the fact, for the moment, that the other hand stitch projects might not be quite finished for the show, but at least, health permitting, I will get this new quilt finished.
The day is drawing near, I look forward to meeting you on Stand C5 for ecourses, quilts, fabrics and much more.
Nine Patch Revolution: 20 Modern Quilt Projects by Jennifer Dick and Angela Walters, softback published by Stash (C&T Publishing). ISBN 978-1617456022, price 21.99 available in the UK from www.searchpress.com
When Angela’s name is on the cover, you know you are in for some quilting magic. I, like many quilters, am a sucker for nine-patch and I love it best when traditional meets modern. So I opened my copy of this book with great expectations. The front cover is busy, bold and intriguing. You can easily see all the quilting projects inside the front cover and they are wide and varied – an excellent mix. 21 projects in all so one or three for everyone there with Jennifer’s fresh, contemporary approach. You’ll find everything here from basic construction to variation with imagination. Very clear instructions with illustrations make this book easy to use. I like it a lot. Will also spark other ideas and you can easily interpret and adapt these wonderful quilts.
Review of Layered and Stitched Pictures by Katie Essam, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215134, price 17.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Another in this very good Textile Artist series from Search Press. Subtitled ‘Using Free Machine Embroidery and Applique to Create Textile Art Inspired By Everyday Life’. I meet a lot of crafters and this book has so much to offer because nearly every crafter I know want more inspiration and want to free-motion stitch. Showing that inspiration is all around, even in everyday objects is a great way to go. Other techniques used in this book include hand stitching, the ever-popular fabric painting and collage. Katie takes you through her process and inspires you to create. The book starts off very simply with a beach scene. This makes it good for beginners upwards. The ideas are well presented and progress in difficulty. The book shows you how to applique mainly animals with fabric and/or paint. There are ideas for collage too. There is also a very basic chapter on design, including interpreting a photograph.I would say the level is beginner to confident beginner, no further. The lovely bicycle on the front is not in the book. A great introduction to applique and free-motion.
It seems like not much to report this week but progress has been made – it’s just that I was quilting and finishing quilts rather than, for me, the most exciting part of designing new ones.
As I post this Monday morning – Two black OBW quilts are completely finished. The third one, the pink quilt, is finished on the machine quilting front. I still have the binding to do.
I also started hand stitching a few more hexagons. I’ve gone through no they do not join, to yes they do, back to no they do not. I know how to get this to work, but I am exploring a different design for them.
Behind the Scenes
Apart from quilting, taking a trade stand involves a lot more behind the scenes work. Thinking about the design of the space, how to hang quilts, pricing up products. Remembering to order everything and have ready all types of hanging etc. This takes up so much time. This week I designed and had printed the leaflets. You can see all ecourses and tutorials here
What will this week bring?
With just under three weeks to go, I am tempted to finish another quilt. The first one that I designed for the show. This was going to be my showcase so it would be nice to finish it. First task with that is cutting more hexagons or as I said above, changing the design. This is a multi-technique quilt to give your skills a workout. Also on the work schedule are all the wall hangings that need finishing and mounting. That’s a priority too. I am also working on either a BOM, Quilt challenge or something that people can sign up to. I shall be designing this next week. I am thinking about a competition too – this is a great opportunity for visitors. It’s all working out so well. Stand C5 9-12th August at the NEC.
Quilting countdown for the festival made great progress this week. My aim last week was to finish more quilt tops, then in the last ten days before the show to quilt everything. The hot weather is still playing a part in how much quilting I can get done. Therefore I took the decision this weekend to actually start quilting.
It was therefore a week of straightening up, making borders, backing, pinning layers and actually getting on to that machine and quilting. This is the reason for the throat space and walking foot attachment. I highly recommend you get a walking foot if you do not already have one.
I had a slight hiccup attaching the walking foot. It just would not fit. When I re-read the instructions, I understood what I was doing wrong. I had removed the usual presser foot but not the foot holder. I also have the guide attachment to help keep stitching straight, but I did not attach it this time as I am following the triangles on the quilt itself.
I had attempted to quilt on the Singer Confidence without a walking foot – I am still trying to unpick it. It’s so annoying. I have to admit I was nervous. In fact that was the reason for putting off the quilting. I just had to bite the bullet.
I tested that my needle was not hitting the walking foot plate. I also tested a few stitches on a scrap piece of fabric and off I went. It was just great I am relieved to say. Much easier than I imagined. I am not working on a full-size quilt, just a lap quilt. This is the way to start for all you beginners. My beginners ecourse will show you how.
When I am not on the sewing machine, I am quilting by hand. The hexagons is one new quilt design I am trying to finish for the show. If you wish to learn quilt design, this is the ecourse for you.
My second post about work for the Festival of Quilts 2018.
I was beaten by the weather last week. However I now have three quilt tops ready for quilting. The two dark OBW quilts, and the pink one featured here. That feels like an achievement.
It was a week of straightening off fabric, cutting borders and attaching. Sewing backing. I like this finishing off period. Somehow it is very calming in contrast to the frenzy of piecing. Although there is still the frenzy of making sure everything is ordered for the festival.
Before I change to the walking foot, there are at least two more quilt tops in preparation. I would like to get these finished too. I have about two weeks to work on these. That will leave me two weeks to quilt five quilt tops. Sounds like a plan.
Happy quilting everyone. See you on Stand C5 at the biggest quilt show of the year in the U.K., Festival of Quilts, NEC 8-12 August 2018.
Modern Plus Sign Quilts by Cheryl Brickey and Paige Alexander, softback published by Stash Books. ISBN 9781617455698, price 21.99 in the U.K. available from www.searchpress.com
Modern take on a classic favourite with 16 interesting projects using a variety of quilting techniques. These girls found the plus in plus providing a range of quilts from easy to challenging. Instructions are included for foundation paper piecing and fusible applique. Patterns range from table runner to bed quilt. You will find general instructions at the front and finishing at the back. Each pattern gives materials needed, finished block measurement, finished quilt, cutting, assembly instructions and finishing. Each one is accompanied by excellent photos. The skill level is shown with plus signs. A clever take on geometrics. The faceted rings quilt is my favourite shown top of the front cover.
The Festival of Quilts 2018 is fast approaching. It’s all systems go here as I prepare for my stand C5. I am finding it very exciting but nerve-wracking.
From one aspect, I am totally prepared – I will finish at least three quilts. From another aspect, these are totally not what I thought I would be doing. They are all OBW quilts. This has actually been a huge learning curve. I got waylaid by OBW, which at one point I termed One Block Nightmare. I have mastered it now, enough to write my own take on it. Maybe one day I will do another, but not now.
I am hoping to have time to inject ‘something of me’ into the work on the stand. I am essentially a designer. I make to try things out I am far more interested in the design than the quilt – colour, form, texture than producing a finished product. I originally designed 6 new quilts for the show – none of which are made yet.
Design spills over in my desire to create fabulous fabrics too. This is the week to get my paints out and create some unique fabrics for the show. I am so looking forward to this.
The other aspect of my work is to bring modern design into hand stitched quilts – this is a long process as I am doing all the hand stitching. I manage about two hours a day. Yes, I have sore fingers!
Finally, my output is to teach you what I know. I do that in my online freebies, through this blog, tutorials and my ecourses. Nothing gives me more pleasure than passing my knowledge on to people who want to learn. Come and meet me at the Festival of Quilts 2018, on Stand C5 and sign up for an ecourse or buy some fabulous unique fabrics, a kit or finished product.
The brand new quilting and patchwork ecourse for beginners is just been launched today at the special introductory and FOQ show price.
Looking after your sewing machine is the one things us quilters are apt to forget. We want to sit and stitch, but to do so effectively, your machine needs a little love. That means cleaning regularly.
How often is that? Recommendations vary from after finishing sewing for the day, to after you complete a project, to once a month and so on. It all depends on how often you use your machine and how long for each time you do use it.
Sewing machines work better if they are used almost every day.
Modern sewing machines
A modern machine often has the advantage of you not having to oil it. It will have been oiled at the factory with sufficient lubricant. If you have an older machine, refer to your manual for how and when to oil. For most of us, that is the oiling taken care of.
However, every sewing machine needs cleaning. The exterior is easy to keep clean. Just wipe with a damp cloth. It is also advisable to keep your machine covered, out of direct sunlight and not in extremes of temperature.
Even the best sewing cotton thread makes tiny particles of ‘dust’ called lint. Lint gathers in and around the bobbin case out of sight. Again refer to your manual for cleaning. Basically you will be removing the plate (keep the screws safe) and usually the bobbin casing. Use the small brush that came with your machine to clean any lint. Never blow the lint, this will disperse it and it may go into the machine, where it should not be. Also clean the back of the sewing needle and where the spool of cotton sits.
N.B. If you are using fleece it will cause more lint that quilting cottons.
This will enable your machine to run smoothly and there should be no problems at your yearly service.
Sometimes your machine will become noisy or may even skip stitches. If you have not cleaned it for a long time, check to see if a good clean makes a difference before ringing a service engineer.
New products – a look back at the last six months. I have worked so hard on my core skills of writing, teaching and publishing. Here are the new products:
The last six months have seen me create a brand new website of new products
In the last six months, I have launched six new ebooks providing inspiration for artists in every field. These include numerous photos you can use to create your own work, no matter what kind of artist you are. The ebooks also include examples of my work (these cannot be used but can inspire). The six titles are
6. Stone and Strata
They can all be viewed here
The next title in preparation is Desert.
My digital work receives a lot of interest. The question I am most asked is ‘How did you do that?’. To answer that I created an Advanced Photoshop ecourse. It is Advanced in that it takes a few processes but is still simple to use and produce the effects I do. You can purchase it here.
As my main focus is now quilting, there are many ecourses and tutorials I have created for quilters. I am still finishing the writing of two ecourses for hand quilting, which will be launched shortly together with a beginner’s quilting course. I have been busy hand dyeing and rust dyeing fabric too. I intend to expand the range further. These are found under the supplies section of the website.
A future focus will be an ecourse in colour and themed work.
My main focus for the next two months is getting ready to take part in the Festival of Quilts for the first time and to showcase my ecourses and quilt kits. You will find me on Stand C5, come and say hello.