Sunday, 26 June 2016

Goosey Guddle Quilt



Apart from going to school for 2 days and tutoring a quilt pupil, I made an effort to experiment with rulers on the Bernina 710 as a practice for demoing the Q20 at FOQ. This was not actually as tricky as I thought. I was impressed by some some Parrs Reel rulers that I had to test but decided that the Bernina 96 foot worked better on the 710 than the Parrs foot. Bernina is bringing out a modified 97 foot which should guarantee that there cannot be any user error when using thick rulers. 

I finally got around to quilting the Bernina fabric that has been designed for practising longarm quilting. I quilted around the main motifs then added a few fillers. I also wanted to show off the couching foot and twin needle then added a bit of sparkly cross hatching. I have to come up with a simple take-away project for FOQ for the sit-down Q20 so that fabric may be used there. 





I finished assembling Freya’s Uni Quilt and decided to call it “Goosey Guddle” because it features flying geese and really is a mishmash of fabrics and colours. Most but not all of the seams match and the blocks were assembled exactly as I tossed them onto the table. I made an effort to photograph every single step of the construction process but I will never be allowed to submit that many pictures to a magazine so I will have to persevere with figuring out how to draw up simple diagrams in EQ7 or Touchdraw. I asked Freya how she wants her quilt to be quilted and she has asked for my random swirly/plumey freehand so I will get around to that during the summer holidays. 



Photos of Tartan Tattoo has appeared in 2 magazines recently - Quilt Mania and Today’s Quilter so fingers crossed that it catches the judges’ eyes at FOQ;)






The coming week will be hectic as it is the last week of term. I am teaching 2 days, going to visit Bambers Sewing Machines in Manchester for 2 days, and attending school prize-giving. I have started to make notes for a special custom quilt that is coming my way and already worrying about making the right design choices in a rather limited time scale that includes the school holidays!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Chasing Chevrons


The trouble with swivel chairs is that when you stand on one to take a photo of whatever is on the table you start to rotate before you can actually press the shutter on the camera. I amused myself doing a couple of spins before I managed to get a decent shot of the made-in-a-hurry chevron quilt. I made the blocks at such a speed that I ended up with ALL of the diamond units facing the same way thus I could not actually make zigzags. So I had to waste time unpicking and reassembling half of them, trying to maintain a random arrangement of fabrics. 

I laid all of the rows on the table to ensure that I would pick them up carefully and carry them to the sewing machine to get them together in the right order. Somehow, I managed to do a sleight of hand and switch things around so that the middle section started zigging and zagging differently. I decided to leave it in a muddle as time was limited but looking at the finished quilt, it would have been cool to have done the whole thing deliberately like that since it forms a 3D pattern!

Although custom quilting along the chevrons might have been fun, I stuck with an Anne Bright digital pantograph, “Monkey Business” for speed and because Miss M’s Monearn House sports day mascots are children in monkey suits waving inflatable bananas. 



I also pieced the rest of Freya’s Uni Quilt blocks, except the last one which I want to photograph to explain how it goes together slightly unmathematically. Because of my eclectic mix of fabrics - particularly the cheap tartan - when I tackle the quilting I will consider using a poly wadding or even a double wadding to help bulk out any slightly “busty” areas.

All in all, I achieved slightly more than 50% of my unrealistic weekly schedule which is impressive considering that Fenella has had 5 performances and a dress rehearsal for the Dance School show in Aboyne and I had to have a wisdom tooth removed with a local anaesthetic and pliers. She had a couple of singing solos to a packed theatre and was amazing. I did really not mind hanging around waiting as it gave me an excuse to read gory Scottish Noir detective novels on my Kindle:)






Sunday, 12 June 2016

Not Exactly Undercover


My accomplice and I decided to “rescue” the plants in pots that were left behind by the people who moved out of the rental property next door. It is tricky to undertake a covert operation in high summer here when it does not get dark until well after 11pm so we sneaked round with the wheelbarrow in broad daylight just after 10pm. The plants have survived their traumatic ordeal and are now being watered regularly outside my workshop  - only the Postie will have observed a change in their location.

I was parading around in my half-sewn prototype frock when 2 American visitors arrived looking for my quilt shop. I explained that I was not an actual shop, just a longarm quilting studio but I was happy to show them some quilts that I had lying around. With the help of some friends, I eventually got the sleeves inserted the right way round and decided on balance that it had been a relatively straight-forward pattern and I might even make another one. I thought it would be a good idea to add some “ethnic” accents by stamping some red motifs around the neckline which led to further embellishments elsewhere which I have not quite decided are excessive or simply not enough;)



Since the 2 customer raffle quilts got done and I had guided Lynette through the automated quilting of a huge appliqu├ęd cot quilt, I made up my mind that I needed to start on Freya’s going-away-to-uni quilt AND run up a quilt for the kids’ Guidance Teacher who is leaving after many years at the school. Miss M will be getting a blue and white chevron quilt (in the colours of her school House) and I have already mass-cut the 168 x 7.5” squares using a giant June Tailor strip-cutting ruler. I will need to work fast to get that done within a fortnight!


Despite having cut all of the pieces out for Freya’s quilt, I discovered that I had completely forgotten the way I made the first 2 blocks and that all of my rectangles were the wrong size - thankfully they were too big and could be trimmed down. The first block was a disaster because I forgot to trim down the deliberately over-sized flying geese blocks and I had no idea how I came up with the sizes of the setting triangles so it really did not fit together very neatly. It all came back to me after a while and the pile of large blocks slowly grew. When I write up the pattern I may not recommend that anyone else uses cotton lawn or poly-cotton tartan unless they are prepared to use a large can of spray starch. I wondered whether the scrappy fabrics that I had chosen were going to make a rather ugly quilt but I remembered that the original 1930’s quilt that I love has some hideous fabrics  yet the overall sum of their parts is fantastic. I ended the weekend with 11 out of 20 blocks and noticed that there is a lot of jolly, bright orange so far. At any rate, it will brighten up a student room rather nicely and its recipient, who is inter-railing in Europe, has approved of the progress so far:)

Sunday, 5 June 2016

On My High Horse



Towards the end of the week I finally received a notification email from FOQ that “Purdah” had not been juried into the Festival of Quilts Fine Art Quilt Masters competition. After about 5 seconds of consideration, I decided not to take the moral high ground and drafted a response. I messaged it to my Quilt Besties who immediately approved and sent back their opinion in capital letters - SEND IT!

Apart from this elusive competition I have previously suffered disappointment about quilt show judges’ decisions but never before felt the urge to have a strop about it. This, my second rejection for FAQM, - the first was for the Spring Totems - has made me question my ability and credibility as a quilt artist. Here is what I wrote… 

Thank you for letting me know that my quilt has not been shortlisted for FAQM at Festival of Quilts this year.

Obviously, I am disappointed that it was not selected. I understand that the judges had to make tough decisions. My work has been juried in and rejected from many such competitions around the world but I have never felt that I was being patronised by being told that “the standard of entries was extremely high”, making me feel that my quilt was not worthy of consideration. 

It is a shame that an elite competition such as FAQM does not allow the entrant to submit more than 2 photographs and a 50 word blurb. I did not feel that I was given the opportunity to demonstrate the months of research and construction that went into such a complex piece of textile art. “Purdah” is a multi-layered piece that conveys current political and feminist themes. 

I would welcome feedback from the selection jury on how I can develop my work to produce quilt art that “transcends craft and demands equal billing with work shown in an art gallery”. Perhaps it is naive of me to understand that FOQ is primarily an exhibition of Quilts with many superb and varied examples of that Craft. The wording that I have quoted from the entry form seems to suggest that most quilts are not worthy of this accolade.

So there - glad I got that off my chest! I have not yet received a reply. Either it will be ignored or I will be served with a life ban from FOQ;)


After diligently working on Paperwork I was going to allow myself time to work on the 30’s Revamp Quilt. However, I went off at a tangent, deciding to make some weights for placing on tissue paper dress-making patterns, as featured on BBC’s “Sewing Bee”. I made couple of prototypes using an equilateral triangle template but they were a pain when it came to getting the last corner neat. It may have helped if I had actually followed the instructions. I decided that it would be FAR easier to use 2 squares, like my triangular zipped pouches. Obviously, I could not just make 3 or 4… I cut out enough squares to take to school so my class could make 3 rice-filled bags each to use as juggling sacks then I went on to mass produce another 20, in case I want to give some away as Christmas gifts. I had not got around to finishing them when I decided to cut out a dress pattern and just used 5 beach stones instead!



I had a busy couple of days fitting in the DIY customers before the summer break and I had fun working on a small African wall-hanging. The borders and sashings are mostly geometric quilting patterns and there were a couple of simple fills around the scenes. I was pleased with the cross-hatch around Africa and I might consider adding some machine embroidery stitches around a few of the blocks. 

For the week ahead I have 2 simple customer quilts, a DIY quilter, and a school day so I had better not get my hopes up about what else I will manage to do. But at the very least I hope to run up a frock and stuff my large collection of pattern weights with special-offer rice.