Monday, 24 January 2011

Roll, roll that cotton boll!

I have been working hard on my Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt, and the main part of the top is now finished! I made it smaller than Bonnie's, at 4 blocks by 5 blocks which measures 60"x75" at the moment. As far as I'm concerned, that makes a creditable single quilt, or will do when the borders are on it.

Can you see the block which I need to unpick? Why do pieces always jump around when they're waiting to be sewn? I'm just glad that my friend Jane spotted it before I got any further. That's a bit of reverse sewing for later!

I've just got one more thing left over from Christmas, and that is a lap quilt I made for my dad, and had wrapped up before I remembered I hadn't photographed it! He left a comment on my blog when had shown a Linus quilt I'd made for a boy, and said 'I don't like that quilt. I wouldn't want it on my bed. I like aeroplanes.' Since he was in the RAF during WW2 I thought that was quite reasonable.

Here is the quilt being held up by Mum. Can you see her peeping out? (She's not actually standing on her head - I've rotated the photo!) I had great difficulty finding a reasonable block with an aeroplane on it, and had to design this one, which is made with templates - well, it was either that or foundation piecing, so not much to choose from there! The quilt is called 'There's always one' and Dad (and Mum) have already put it to good use!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Christmas present 2

The first part of my Christmas present from DD was fabulous (a private viewing of some of the quilts in the Whitworth Art Gallery collection) but the second part was fabulous too! The same gallery had a Textiles Exhibition, which was varied and a real treat for anyone even vaguely interested in textiles.

It ranged from some quilt tops and coverlets, like this one (sorry, can't remember the date) and other items, including this beautiful embroidered 17th or 18th century bodice,

to this newspaper log cabin 'quilt' and embroidered box,

a Kantha work quilt on the subject of gardening,

a knitted sheep in wolf's clothing,

fabric specially printed for George the whatsits coronation (details were never my strong point!)

an Afghan war rug and lots of other things besides. If you're in the north of England and haven't seen this exhibition, you have until 19th July to see, and I strongly recommend it to you! And then when I got home, there was a parcel from up the Amazon!

It was the copy of Tonya's new book which DH had ordered for me for Christmas! I was so pelased to get it finally, and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Christmas present 1

Finding a suitable Christmas present is hard, and the best ones are ones where thought has been applied. This is why DD's present was one of my all-time best ones. She had arranged for me to have a private showing of some of the quilts in the collection of the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester! She came along too, and we had coffee, tea and lunch in a noodle bar (delicious!) and lots of mother-daughter chat as well!

This is the Whitworth Art Gallery, in case you don't know it. It looks rather forbidding, but was very welcoming and pleasant inside. The lovely and knowledgeable textiles curator, Frances, was ready for us at 2 o'clock, and had spread out some quilts ready to get going.

This is the first one, a lovely hexagon coverlet with a mitred border on it. There was a plain calico backing on it, and no quilting. It dated from about 1850. As ever with old quilts, the range of fabrics was amazing! Lots of conversation prints, shirtings, upholstery designs and all kinds of fabrics which look as if they were designed yesterday!
I don't think this photo is too clear, but can you see that there are little fairytale houses on the brown and cream patch between the two green ones near the bottom? I could have spent a whole afternoon just looking at the different fabrics in this quilt!

The maker had solved the problems of the edges of the quilt by using some half rosettes, and just keeping with cream in some parts. It seems to work well.

Next was a strippy coverlet dated about 1790. The patterned fabric was very chintzy, and the strips were unusual in that the patterned ones were wider than the plain ones. They are usually all the same width. Unfortunately, the quilting was not terribly interesting, and seemed to be fairly random.

Next a small, heavy log cabin quilt. This was wadded and backed with a fabulous Turkey red fabric which dated it to the late 19th century. This seems to be a kind of 'strips masterclass'. The centre of the quilt is log cabin, made in wools and wool mixes, arranged in a light and dark arrangement, each corner has a courthouse steps block, and the border is a chevron! The thick fabrics must have made it very hard to work with.
Here is a better photo of the backing. As you can see, this quilt was bound, which is not typical for British quilts. It's not surprising to find lots of paper piecing in British museums, and there was a whole box of paper pieced patches of various sizes, shapes and stages of completion, along with some fabric scraps and some paper waiting to be cut up into shapes. These octogons date from early 19th century. I think this might have been abandoned when the maker realised she should have pieced the little joining squares as she went along, not leaving them to the end! You can see on the right hand side she's started to add the squares (also paper pieced) but not got very far!

There were loads more octogons ready to go (these too have some with squares) and you can see the papers clearly here, with a date of 1815! The papers were made from copybooks or various printed sources. Again, the fabrics were fabulous, with lots of the 'seaweed' fabrics typical of the early 19th century. Here are some teeny Lemoyne stars - how were these going to fit together, I wonder?

Maybe they fit with these?Frances was almost apologetic at having included this top, but then, she hadn't met me before! I absoltely love it! She said it was mid-19th century and was a veritable showcase of Machester cottons. There were so many different fabrics in it, we wondered if it was made from fabric samples. Only the very centre has anything more complicated thn a square or rectangle (and that's only a square within a square which is missing its points!) but the colours and the enrgy of the piece are fabulous! There is a kind of basic design, but the fabrics are so varied, it's hard to see!

Here you can see a bit of bodging (the triangle added in being the worst of it!)
and here, a bit of desperation piecing, where five pieces of fabric have been joined together to make one patch! And that was the last quilt. Although I would obviously have liked to see more quilts, I would like to thank Frances (and DD) for a wonderful show! But the afternoon wasn't over, and I have more photos to show another day!

Monday, 10 January 2011

A reveal and a mystery

I have been busy sewing the Bonnie Hunter blocks and am really pleased with them! Here is a sneak preview of mine.
I've decided to make a few more blocks so that it will be a 4x5 block arrangement, which will make a very credible lap quilt. The strange thing is that when I finished sewing the churn dash blocks, I had a red half square triangle left over. Just one.
Now since I have made the triangles with the diagonal line method, there should be another one somewhere! Do half square triangles en masse behave like socks, and are taken by the fairies? Anyone else have this problem?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Happy New 2011!

It's the start of another year, with the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of last year, and the possibilities of this! I had a very productive quilting year in 2010 and actually finished 25 quilts! That's not counting the bags, wall hangings, cards and other stuff I worked on. At least now when people ask me how long it takes me to make a quilt, I can say 'about 2 weeks'! Although to be fair, a lot of those quilts were for Project Linus, so were only lap sized. This is probably my favourite quilt of 2010, made for my lovely sister-in-law.

As to resolutions, this year I intend to 'spread the word' and go out and lead some beginners' classes. So watch out Brownies, Scouts, old folks, choirs, trainspotters, Rotary Clubs in fact any local group, or you might find yourself on the business end of a needle!

Happy quilting in 2011!