Thursday, September 30, 2010

Climbing quilts

Not much sewing going on here recently, I just can't seem to get my act together and get started.
But I haven't been totally idle - I have painted my quilt ladder to match my book shelves. Ah, much better! Now perhaps the teddies' bench next... Or should I go quilt something...?
Paint or quilt, that's the question...

Or maybe just sit here until the urge to do something goes away...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mug rug bug

There's a new bug in blogland - and it's called the Mug Rug, When I caught on, there was already a swap going on, but being late for that didn't stop me - I thought this was such a great idea that I couldn't wait to make my own. So what is a Mug Rug? Well, from what I gather it is a tiny quilt, smaller than a placemat but larger than a coaster. Just the right size to place your tea or coffee mug and a couple of biscuits on . I thought that was just brilliant! I tend to see it as a bit of a waste (meanie that I am...) to set the table with plates when all I have to offer is a biscuit or cookie, and with impromptu visits that's often the case. There doesn't seem to be cake or pie loitering around in my larder for those unexpected visits, most of the time. And if there was, I would be visiting that (nonexistent) larder so frequently that there wouldn't be any left when visitors did arrive...
Mug Rugs can be any smallish size you see fit, but I've settled on 6 x 8" for mine, and that seems about right. I have some small paper piecing patterns collected from Quilters' Newsletter Magazine over the years that were perfect for this, and finally I found a way to use this sweet little trick-or-treating ghost for something as well. Isn't he cute? I think I'll keep this one for myself. Or maybe I'll make more of them. They are quick to make after all, and that's part of their charm, I think. That and the opportunity to play with design ideas on a small scale.
In fact, these mug rugs were so fun to make that I just knew I had to make more, so I gathered all my batting odds and ends, zigzagged them together and cut them to size (7 x 9, to allow for trimming). So now I have a pile of twenty something pieces lying next to my sewing machine, ready for action. Hm, I know what some of my friends will be getting for Christmas... and if there's a new swap, I'm ready! I've truly caught the bug. The fact that it's so fun to say also helps when you're silly like me: "mug rug" - just try it! :-D

Friday, September 24, 2010

Workbook revisited

A while ago I wrote (almost) weekly about the Workbook Wednesday project I participated in. As these things tend to I went into the project full of enthusiasm, but things petered out after a while, and I didn't do all the assignments in the workbook. Still, I had fun along the way and I have managed to finish all the seven little quilts I started, and have learned a lot along the way.
I chose 'Windows' as my theme, and most of the small quilts have something window-related going on. With this one, where I worked with diagonals, I made a frame to give the impression of looking out of a window. To emphasize the diagonal line, I added some flower shaped beads and a butterfly. This one has traditional single fold binding.
Here we were to play with the placement of different abstract shapes. I connected them with quilting lines and if you think it looks like some red bikini briefs hung out to dry, that was not my intention, LOL.
I added a pretty polka dot ribbon along the zigzagged edge and some aqua beads in the upper left hand corner.
The appliqué pear and shadow was the only assignment where I used a pattern from the book. I also added an orange strip along two sides to try to give the impression of a shadow from a deep frame. This one is just zig zagged around the edge. I can see that it works as a quick and easy way of finishing a small piece, but it doesn't really suit my neatnik ways. It's hard to tear oneself away from the traditional use of a neat and proper binding, I suppose.
This one just started out as a sample of strips inserted into a square of fabric and comparing the effects of ironing the seam allowances towards the strip or away from the strip to get different effects, on that makes the strips lie on top of the quilt and the second giving recessed strips. To avoid having this sample just lying around and not making itself useful, I added an extra piece of blue to make it the same size as the rest and to try out some stripy quilting. With a bit of imagination this too can be seen as a window quilt - a  tall office building  seen from a ground floor window, mirroring the sunset, perhaps... Oh well, it gave me the chance to try out the blind hem finishing effect which I'd never tried before, and that's one I might actually add to my repertoire.
I also made a sample using curved seams, and decided to use it as a background for another technique: thread painting. I put the background into an embroidery hoop, drew the outline of the bird (recognise it from the border of my blog?) with a water soluble pen and added heavy stitching to create the sulky looking bird. The next technique was bobbin drawing. I used green perle cotton in my bobbin and stitched the cage from the back of the quilt. After adding a frame and quilting, I came up with the idea of adding the cat to emphasize the impression of a window, this time looking in through one. The edge got a narrow machine stitched line and was sealed with glue before I added gold ink along the edge. This was a bit messy, but worked well for this small quilt. It's not a technique I would have used for a larger quilt, though. 
This one started out as a wonky log cabin block. With a few extra strips it ended up the same size as the rest and became a background for my couching exercise, using both hand and machine. I added an uneven blanket stitch along the edge. I still struggle with making my stitches uneven, just as I struggle with making my log cabin blocks wonky, but I'm getting better all the time ;-) After quilting a big flower and some curly swirly lines, I added some beads for that extra sparkle.

The last piece was a collage using a fabric with a motif. Heather Ross' goldfish were perfect here, and I also tried out the porthole technique, or faced opening, on the green fabric, placing a fish behind the opening. Some beads on this one as well and for the edge I zigzagged down some lengths of novelty yarn.
So there you have it. A lot of new techniques resulting in seven little quilts. Not perfect, I know, but that's hardly the point. They are finished, and that makes me happy :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birmingham fabric

Birmingham fabric
Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I've been sorting through the mess which is my sewing room, and had a bit of fun going through all the stuff I bought at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham last month. I've been saying that I didn't really do a lot of shopping, but that's not entirely true, is it?
I bought some 10" squares of Amy Butler's latest fabric line and of Kaffe Fassett's polka dots and shot cottons. Some V&A reproduction fabric and some batik also went home with me plus lots of gorgeous thread.
Takings were rather good after all...
More pictures at Flickr (just click on the picture).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How to make a purse from a tie

I promised to show how you can make a small purse from a tie. It's amazing how much fabric there really is in a tie when you unpick all the seams. This is not a very thorough tutorial, just a brief outline, so feel free to ask if anything is unclear. With no man in the house I haven't got a stash of beautiful silk ties just crying out to be used, so I just got one, rather dull one in shades of grey, from a thrift store (that was the most exciting one they had at the time - maybe men here aren't very adventurous, or they hang on to their prettiest ties, who knows...) Anyway, here goes:
There aren’t any exact measurements in this tutorial as ties vary in width, but what you need to do is to cut off the first 6” of the tie from the widest end. This can either be a pocket for your cell phone or a closure flap. Also, you need to cut off the pointy bit at the narrow end of the tie.
Measure the remaining length of tie and divide by six. This is your measurement for cutting the remaining pieces. To make sure you don’t get your pieces mixed up, label them from 1 to 6 in the order shown.

Now it’s time to get your seam ripper out. Open the seams on the back of each piece and remove any interfacing and lining fabric. Press each piece to get he creases out (careful with the heat if it’s a silk tie – a pressing cloth is a good idea here!)
Now lay the pieces out as shown (the wide end down), pieces 5-1-6 makes one side of the purse and 3-2-4 makes the other. Sew the pieces together and press seams open. You might have to trim the pieces a bit so they end up the same size. Cut two pieces of thin batting and two pieces of lining fabric using one of the sides as a template. Layer each side with batting and quilt to stabilize. I just stitched some lines on either side of the seams and a few more in between. Lay the outer right sides together and stitch down one side, across the bottom and up on the other side. Do the same with the lining, leaving an opening to turn the bag inside out when finished. Turn bag with the right side out and put it into the lining and stitch along the upper edge. Turn bag right side out through the opening in the lining.

If you want to use the piece you cut off from the end of the tie as a pocket, you can stitch it to one side of the purse, like I have done (see the first picture), before you stitch the pieces together. If you prefer to use it as a strap to close the purse, you will need to attach it as you stitch the seam around the opening. You can use your purse as a clutch purse, or if you prefer a strap, you can make it from matching fabric or use a cheep pearl necklace, like I have done. Embellish to your heart’s content and enjoy!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Festival of Quilts

OK, so I promised to share more about my visit to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham (UK). Now where to begin? I realize that my photos can't really do the quilts enough justice, and there were so many, that I only managed to photograph a small percentage of them. There were beautiful traditional quilts and wonderful art quilts and everything in between, so what I share here are just a few glimpses of things that caught my eye. The information about the quilts is from the show catalogue.

First out is this one by Annette Morgan, called "Pay the Ferryman" including image transfers, screen printing, foils and paint. I was not surprised that it won the Art Quilt category.
Here's a closer look.

This 3 D quilt which includes felt and batting which has been shrunk to distort is the winner of the Contemporary Quilts category. It is called "Squaring Up" and is made by C. June Barnes.
Here's a closer look. I had to clasp my hands behind my back to avoid reaching out to touch and try to discover how it had been made ;-)

"A Future and a Hope" by Lynne Quinn was just amazing. It is her City & Guilds final quilt and includes a "storm at sea" pathway and "light" to shine the way.
"Rainbow Colours" by Kathy Unwin.

Nina Lise Moen made this winning entry for the Quilters' Guild Challenge "Summer in the City".

This quilt by Rosalind Gregory and Joan Herrington is called "Where have all my shirts gone?" and is made from recycled shirts. Inspired by Taunton's lost shirt factories, red braces and citiscapes.

I find myself drawn to quilts with buildings on them, whether they are homes, cityscapes or industrial plants, modern or historical, I'm always drawn in. Here's another one, "A New Leaf" made by a group of four called Fusion.

Alicia Merrett's "Mapping Earth" falls right into the same category. She had a similar, larger version, in the Art Quilts group as well.

I was amazed to learn that this one was made by a young quilter, Harry Lyons, age group 9-11! I wouldn't mind having this on my wall :-)

Among the stunning work displayed was also this one made of Kaleidoscope blocks. The maker, Solvi L. Krokeide, calls this "Life in a Kaleidoscopic World". It was originally made for a Norwegian contest themed Lonesome, Twosome, Threesome"

Ferret has made another magnificent quilt. It is called "Phoenix Rising" and includes stunning feather quilting. I have noticed her work at previous festivals and you her blog is really worth checking out.

The miniature section had quite a few stunners as well. This tiny gem "Bluer than Blue" by Betty Ball can't have been more than 7 x7 " - makes you wonder what she has done with the seam allowances!

Some fun and colourful pieces to round off this little tour of the festival. This is "A Rose Garden" by Hiroko Fukawa. It consist of square in square blocks of different sizes, quilted circles attached to the edges and lots of tiny yo-yos scattered around. Really fun and whimsical!

I finish with a detail of Ylva Ugerup's quilt "Fly out Swedish Ladies!" from her series of quilts where she portrays women who have made an impact on the world. I don't know enough about Swedish history to tell you who these two are, unfortunately, but I love all the details and handstitching in her work.