Friday, 31 August 2007


Lots of excitement in the post yesterday! First was my present from Kate's give-way , a beautiful postcard sent from Ireland. I've seen fabric postcards before, and even made a couple myself, but never had the guts to actually put one in the post! This one has a beautiful floral backing, with message, address and stamp, and has survived the trials of the postal system perfectly. Many thanks to Kate, for an inspirational gift.

The same postman bought me a little box and in it were the business cards I ordered a while ago. I don't have a business, but when I found out that you can order 250 little cards from Vistaprint for FREE, I thought I'd get some! OK, so it's a little loss leader for them, and while there are 20-odd designs you can choose from, most of them are subject specific (for mechanics, estate agents and nail studios etc) and didn't appeal. Also at every step of the ordering process they ask if you want to upgrade to glossy (only a few pounds more) or add other features (for more money) so you need to be strong not to add to your bill. They do charge postage, which is fair enough, but at £3.50 for the UK I thought it was worth it. Now all I need to do is find 250 friends!

(The cards don't come with a piece of green fabric on them: I've covered up my address just in case anyone wants to steal the identity of the only quilting bellydancer in Leicestershire!)

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Sew A Row quilt completed!

Remember the navy fabric I bought at the Festival of Quilts? Well, I've used it to bind this sew a row quilt which I started as part of Piecemakers' challenge last year. I am notorious for my love of lime green, and decided to use green and blue as the basic colours. I think the yellow is just enough to add a zing.

The rows are (1) half a seminole (2) delectable mountains (DD always think that's quilter's porn, a euphamism for, well, you know what!) (3) drunkard's path (4) migrating flying geese (5) applique (6) sails (mine looked better upside down) (7) trees (they have got trunks, honestly) (8) chop suey and (9) the other half of the seminole.
It took a bit of getting together but I'm very pleased with it. Since our group is having an exhibition in October, I thought I'd better hurry up and finish it! Now, back to my mile a minute, of which more later!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Reproduction fabric

Just been up to Edinburgh for four days to see a few shows at the Fringe. Had a great time. Saw 'The One-Man Star Wars Trilogy', 'Dickens Unplugged' (the biggest Dickens tribute band in Santa Fe apparently), DS's production of 'The Witches', some stand-up, some serious stuff, folk music, belly dancing and a lot of bars! Some of the pubs stay open until 4 am, although we didn't manage to stay up till then.
DH drove up, which gave me some time to have a good look at my new book, 'America's Printed Fabrics' by Barbara Brackman. I'm very interested in quilt history, and rather miffed that there are loads of book about American quilt history and fabrics, but very little about British. Barbara gives a good history of the development of processes, patterns and colours, and encourages you to look for similar designs and colours in modern fabrics, to make quilts with an antique feel.
Edinburgh boasts an amazing vintage clothing shop called Armstrongs, which is a must-visit for anyone who loves fabric. While I was there, I saw this gorgeous 70s shirt, which looked very 1880s to me, so I bought it for £5.

The assistant kindly warned me that they didn't do refunds, so would I like to try it on, but I said it was fine, I just wanted to cut it up into little pieces and sew it back together again.
Once home, it went into the washer, and I cut it up into pieces. If you like using worn fabric, it's best to cut it into usable pieces first, as if you put it into your stash as it is, the chances are that it will never get used, because it's too much trouble, and will always be passed over in favour of a flat piece of fabric. I reckon that there is the equivalence of a good three quarters of yard of usable fabric in a shirt, which makes £5 a very good price.
Here is the fabric lying on two books with photos of 1880s shirting fabrics. On the right is Barbara Brackman and on the left is 'Dating Fabrics 1800-1960' by Eileen Tristain.
The motifs on my fabric are a bit more spaced out, but very suitable for use in a reproduction quilt, I think. Watch this space for how I use it.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Fabric book cover

DS is here for a few days , between directing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe ('Roald Dahl's The Witches' - got a 4 star review) and starting a masters at Birkbeck later this month. Great to have him home, but the downside is that I have had to clear some space in my sewing room - sorry, his bedroom - for him to sleep. Never mind, it's always good to have to clear my sewing room, I usually find some buried 'treasure' which had been forgotten at the bottom of a pile.

While he was here, I asked if he would like a fabric cover for his academic diary. What son could refuse? So I gave him a choice of fabrics.

'Disfunctional family' (to remind him of home), Salad (he eats too little), Guitars (he loves music), Zebra print (this year's must-have?), Famous buildings (to dream about foreign places), Mobile phones (to remind him to keep his bill down), Coffee (he drinks too much) or Paris map (to remind him of a recent trip). It didn't take him long to choose my own favourite, Disfunctional family!

These book covers are really easy to make, and mean you'll always find your diary in your bag and always know which one on the table belongs to you.

Measure your book top to bottom and add 3/4". Measure along the front, spine and back and add 5". Cut a piece of pelmet Vilene that size (the iron-on is best if you can get it, otherwise use 505 spray glue). Cut your fabric that size, iron or stick fabric and Vilene together, and embellish. I just did a bit of machine stitching on this one, but you can add ribbons, lace, buttons, pictures etc. to your heart's content. Then zigzag twice along the short ends, work out where the flaps will be by pinning on the book, and zigzag twice along the top and bottom. Hey presto, one fabric book cover!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Mile a minute

I know I should be getting on with the stack and slash quilt I'm making for a retirement present, but the problem with blogging, is the delight of looking at other people's blogs, and the danger of getting inspired. So, I was just looking at Fiona's lovely blog, when I came across the mile a minute block, which is perfect for using up all those crumbs and strings which seem to lurk in the bottom of bags or boxes, and if you're thrifty enough to put them together in a container, they just multiply!

I thought, 'I'll just do a few, to perhaps make a Linus quilt,' and here I am, 46 blocks later, on my way to a double quilt, it seems!

Here are the first 25 joined together. They look great! Well, they would do, if the picture was a bit clearer. At least they give the idea.

I've just realised, that I couldn't use this as a Linus quilt anyway, as there is an ample cleavage on one of the strings - not really suitable for small children, I don't think! Here is a close- up.

I love novelty fabrics, and bought this Alexander Henry pin-up fabric to make a quilt for DD, who is a burlesque performer. The fabric has lots of curvy ladies in shorts and skimpy outfits in the woods. Not very believable but great fun. I didn't realise this lady had worked her way into my scrap bag but hey, that's what scrap bags are for!