Monday, 30 May 2011

Civil War blocks

I must be crazy! I'm making blocks for the Barbara Brackman Civil War quilt, my challenge blocks from Lynne Edwards' sampler book, and now I'm intending to do 'Dear Jane' blocks! How ridiculous is that!
At least the Barbara Brackman blocks aren't too dificult. Here are the next four, taking me up to week 20. The top two were a bit tricky, but the bottom ones were very straightforward.

Here are the blocks I've done so far. I have made a mistake by using white in the basket block and the Jacob's ladder block. I'll have to dip them in tea to tone them in, before I make it up. (Jane said I ought to dye the fabric instead, but since I don't use biological washing powder -eczema in the family - it'll be fine with tea!)

Now I'm off to start my first 'Dear Jane' block (G7). Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Quilts UK at Malvern

Last week it was Quilts UK at Malvern, and I was lucky enough to go on a bus trip organised by Ruth. No stress, no strain, lots of chatting on the way there, and a little sleep on the way back! I have to say that while I thoroughly enjoyed the day (due in no small part to the good company I had in Paula!) I was underwhelmed at the display of quilts. There were, of course, some fabulous ones, but the majority of quilts looked like something I could make myself, but which I would never feel worthy enough to put in a show. The show guide (while reasonably priced) was very confusing, and it took ages to work out where the descriptions of the quilts were (surely letters should be listed in alphabetical order?) and where the traders were too. Still there was lots of good stuff, and here are my highlights.

Having made an aeroplane quilt myself this year, I was interested in this one. A blurry photo, but an easier block than the one I did! An unusual quilt with three dimensional flowers. This was designed and made by Kate Elgood, and it repaid a closer look. Not only was the workmanship excellent, but look at this gardening fabric she has used as a background! You would never have thought that it would work, but it just enhances the whole theme of the quilt! Here is a beautifully hand-quilted strippy. It's a copy of an old, damaged one found at a house clearance. This is so sophisticated in colour - an absolute gem! (Sorry I didn't get a clear view of this quilt. The show was very busy, and it ws impossible to find a quilt without admirers! )This one is made me cross. I recognised this quilt straightaway as Bonnie Hunter's design 'Christmas Stars'. In the show guide there is no mention of Bonnie at all, just a self important statement about how the maker has designed her own continuous-line quilting design, "and this is something I like to do on every quilt I make." Now, Bonnie is very generous with her patterns, putting them on her website free of charge and giving blanket permission for the maker to display designs to be used in shows or even taught in classes. But that is no reason to just take the design and not even credit her! Just rude behaviour.
This one caught my eye for its superb use of colour. The African fabrics are used to great effect.This group quilt came from a challenge to use only black and white, and make a small hanging the size of a ruler. I'm sure a member of this group would be able to easily identify the makers of each part! I loved this whimsical seaside quilt (Paula didn't, thus proving that we are all different!) The centre was delightful, but the border of beach huts was fabulous.Here is a close up of the border, and you can see the fun the maker has had with the details, both the applique and the quilting.

My favourite part of the show (apart from the shopping, which was excellent!) was the theme quilts, all on the theme of Log Cabin. This block is so versatile, and its design was pushed to the limits!
This one was a log cabin in a log cabin. Very striking.

This one must have sent the maker's eyes funny - but it emphasises the log cabin effect wonderfully.
A fabulously bright and cheerful one, embellished by huge strippy flowers.A prize winning quilt, made from pieces of blue Ikat fabric. It looks good from a distance and equally good close up. Here the log cabin blocks have been cut into quarters, shuffled, and sewn into new blocks. The sashing gives structure to the higgledy piggledy blocks. Facsinating.

Courthouse steps meets Kaffe Fassett. A worthy pairing.A crazy log cabin quilt, with bags of attitude. the colour scheme makes it look very traditional at first glance, but the craziness of the blocks adds loads of interest and movement.And finally, a quilter's notice board, with snippets of this and that, and lots of advice! Every quilter should have one! And as to the shopping, I managed to buy a certain number of things! Notably this copy of 'Dear Jane', which I'm hoping will be the pattern for a new quilt. Look out for news of this soon!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A step too far?

Since DS came home and claimed his bedroom back, we have been sharing storage facilities in there. He has stored his clothes, shoes, books, DVDs etc and I have stored much of my fabric. It didn't really seem fair for me to be in and out of his bedroom on a regular basis, so I have been busy trying to move my stash into the study (aka my sewing room) to give him a bit of privacy.

My creams were happy to share an under-the-bed-box with the purples, and are now in our bedroom, with a another box of browns.

My IKEA storage unit has been moved from inside DS's wardrobe to underneath my sewing table. This has reds, pinks, yellows and batiks (with a handy carrier bag storage facility at the side!). It was quite easy to move the unit, but some of my other fabrics had got rather out of hand.

I was inspired by a recent post on Stash Manicure to buy some clear boxes from my local handware shop, and separate my blues (and greens) into lights, mediums and darks, instead of being in one big box. (Can you imagine what was lurking at the bottom of the box? Some fabrics which I had completely forgotten I had, and lots of bits!)

The bits were easily assimilated into my Bonnie Hunter-style scrap user system, of 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3" and 5" strips and squares. But then, I went one stage further. Inspired by Hilary's lovely pouch bag she showed at the latest Rocheberie meeting, which was completely made of selvedges, I have now labelled one more box.

Not sure whether this is complete madness or thrift! What do you think?

Friday, 13 May 2011

Lovely day

Yesterday I had a lovely day out. Can you guess what I was doing? Yes, I was sewing! A lovely Linus lady called Linda had organised a Linus sewing day, and Paula and I set off into the wilds of North Leicestershire to get to Hickling for 10 o'clock. Merrily chatting as we bowled along the A46 Paula said, 'Do you think we've come too far?' I replied foolishly, 'Oh, no. I think this part of the route is familiar.' As you can guess, we had gone 10 miles too far along the road, so had to turn back and retrace our route. Poor Linda was just beginning to get concerned, but she made us feel better by explaining that the sign for the A606 was obscured by the roadworks - even telling us that she herself had missed it the other day (although I think she was just being kind!).

Linda has a lovely workroom (a converted barn) where she holds classes. It was big and airy and had lots of natural light. Here you can see Linda (yes, there were three Lindas there!), Pat, Linda and Pauline busy beavering away. Pauline is holding up some bright blocks she is joining together. these will certainly cheer up someone's day! Linda (with her back to the camera) was squaring up rail fence blocks which had been made by other people (an unenviable task) and then joining them together. Pat (behind Linda) was making mile a minute blocks.

She was keeping mainly to blues and making blocks which finished at 10" so they will knit up fast. The randomness of these blocks reminds me of Gees Bend quilts - lots of life and movement in them.Linda (who is just peeping over her sewing machine) was finishing and sashing the blue Lemoyne Stars you can see on her design wall. These had been made in a class she taught recently.

Paula had taken a fancy to some donated blocks which had been made all in the same cream and red fabrics. Apparently the maker was 'fed up with them'. It's no wonder, as there were 112 of them! I would have given up long before I hadmade that number! Paula arranged them in a clever pinwheel design, and reckons there will be enough blocks for three Linus quilts! I was making the windmill blocks which you can now see on the design wall. They will be a fun addition to a child's bedroom.

I had taken some orphans and fabric strips with me, and we had a good rootle through it all. We made up some kits and Linda kept six tops which she is going to make up on her Gammil. What a lovely lady! It was a super day, with new friends (not to mention the biscuits and sweets) and a run out in the country, apart from all the sewing we did. Many thanks to Linda and everyone, and let's hope we can do it again soon.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Going round the bend

I have been layering and quilting recently, so not much to photograph on that front, but I have made the next set of blocks for my challenge group. This block was the Corner to Corner Curve - a special invention of Lynne Edwards', which uses a corner to corner line which is also a quarter circle. (It's a Drunkard's Path which fills most of the square instead of being restricted to one corner of the square - a kind of Alcoholics' Anonymous Path!)

Since my pieces were smaller than the original (and I had to draft them myself) you'll notice that there isn't a lot of meeting in the middle going on here!

I'm not sure that the rest of the blocks are much better, but they'll do fine. Can you spot my undeliberate mistake? Why does that always happen!