Sunday, 26 February 2012

Bletchley Park

Yesterday I went to Bletchley Park - home of the Enigma machine which cracked the German codes during WW2 - and had a super day! I didn't look at the machines, the WW2 displays or the Churchill collection. I went for the quilts!

The weather was gorgeous (when you were in the sun) and it was lovely to sit outside the main building at lunchtime and chat with friends, old and new. There were plenty of quilts to see, a competition on the theme of codes, Red Cross quilts and other goodies, but my main purpose was the documentation day. One room was set aside for the examination of old quilts, and there were ladies from the Quilters' Guild on hand to give informed opinions. I took my two old quilts, and ended up spending much of the day enjoying looking at other old quilts. A real treat.

My first quilt was the one in poor condition. This was given a good going over, and the fabrics were dated between 1816 and 1850, with the central fabric being 1830-40. There was a bit of discussion as to whether the larger borders at the edge had been added later, but a piece of the central fabric was discovered in one block, which seemed to negate that idea. I suggested that the maker had suddenly had a deadline, and decided that bigger blocks would finish the quilt sooner! Who knows?

I was slightly trepidatious at showing my hexagon quilt, as I had not only taken the papers out, but had washed and finished it, and wondered if the ladies would be shocked or even censorious. I didn't need to have worried, as they felt that I had merely 'repaired' the quilt, and made it into a thing to be enjoyed, which had been my intention. They examined the fabrics, and were happy that they dated from 1850-1880, which tied in with the dates (1880s and 1890s) I found on the papers. Thank you so much ladies of the Quilters' Guild for all your hard work and kindness. I'm dead chuffed!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Not blogging - just quilting!

I have really been enjoying finishing UFOs, and am on a real roll with it! This quilt was a Rebecca Collins design using triangles and was a class sample (only a top).

It was originally started at a class where we pooled all our fabrics. Darks went into one carrier bag and lights into another, and the idea was that you had to put your hand into each bag, and then put the resultant pair into a block! Scarey! However, I love the result, and the stars are clearly visible even though some of the block contrasts aren't quite as clear as others. I was going to meander quilt it, but then decided to quilt in the ditch, so the design would become even clearer. At the same time, I've been finishing my '12 Days of Christmas', which since I only managed to make 5 blocks, should really be renamed!

I've combined the Christmas blocks with the leftover Calendar Basket blocks - I think they play together pretty well. The photo has turned out rather brownish, but the border and binding are actually burgundy, and all this, background and backing fabrics came from my stash! Result!

But what about the partridge in a pear tree, I can hear you ask. Well, here he is.

He's all bordered and quilted, and waiting for a binding. He'll make a nice Christmas wall-hanging, I think. What shall I finish next?!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

UFO number 1 finished!

Here is the inspiration for my UFO number 1 - otherwise known as the Reproduction Quilt.

This quilt was given to me by a lady who had bought it from an interior design shop in London in the 1950s and it had been well-used and well-loved. She wanted to know if she could repair it, as she wanted to keep on using it, but it's obviously beyond mending. Even if the rotten fabrics were taken out, any new work would weaken the whole, and it would quickly disintegrate. She kindly left it with me, and I blush to think that I've kept it for four years! My original thought was that I would make her a replacement, and see if she would swap, but it's taken me rather a long time to get the replacement finished! However, here it is!

It's pretty big, and even DS's long arms couldn't display the whole thing. I'm really pleased with it (even DH, who's usually laid back about quilts - he's seen them all - described it as 'stunning') and hope the lady will agree to the swap. There is a quilt documentation day at Bletchley Park on 25th February which I'm hoping to take the old quilt to, so keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, 13 February 2012


Do you sometimes think you're starting to lose your marbles?

Do you ever go into a room and when you get there, can't remember why you went in? Did you ever forget where you'd parked the car? Have you ever said, 'I need to get a new, erm, oh dear, a, you know, the thing you put dirty clothes in - a washing machine!" Have you started to forget the names of people who you know really well? Don't worry, because these are normal things which happen to us all at some time or another, but there are some people whose memory problems are due to dementia, and especially Alzheimer's disease. This terrible affliction, like cancer, seems to be touching more and more of us. Ann Hill of Dumfrieshire, Scotland, is organising a huge fundraiser for Alzheimer Scotland for 2013, when she plans to cover the football pitch at Hampton Ground in Glasgow with 5,000 lap quilts! What a fabulous use for a football pitch! After the event, the quilts will either be sold, or distributed to care homes. Have you got a lap quilt you can donate? If not, Ann has patterns on her website to inspire you. Have a look HERE and please join in.

Friday, 10 February 2012


I proudly announced that my Calendar Baskets quilt was finished by the end of January, but the guilt has crept up on me. I certainly put nine of the baskets into the quilt, but I still have three left! They haven't actually been causing me sleepless nights, but I felt bad about just adding them to my orphan pile while at the same time, declaring them as a finish. Here they are, staring reproachfully at me. Three blocks - not a very helpful number to use up. Then I finally tracked down my 12 Days of Christmas blocks which have been languishing in a bag for years. They too don't make a coherent group. Then I had an idea. What about combining the two groups?

Here is a possible arrangement for the two sets to make a new quilt!

They will play together quite nicely I think. OK. You've noticed that I've conveniently left out the partridge in the pear tree. Well, don't think I'm fudging again - I have firm plans for him which will allow him to star in his own Christmas wall hanging. Hooray! UFOs into quilts!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


We had a Project Linus sewing afternoon last week, so I've been side-tracked into quilting for Linus (not that I mind, you inderstand!). Sue had made this stunning quilt (it's much brighter in actuality) but didn't feel confident enough to meander quilt it. I was happy to do it. It's made a really lovely, snuggly quilt. I will get it back to her for binding.

I've also unearthed UFO Challenge number 1, which is this reproduction quilt I started ages ago. As you can see, it's all layered up and mostly quilted. So why did it turn into a UFO? At the time, I was trying to create some semblance of an antique quilt, and wanted to incorporate some period quilting designs. On the large section with half square triangles I decided to do some wine glass shapes (interlocking circles), and merrily set off to machine quilt them. Although I've successfully free-machine quilted many time in the past, this did not go well at all. And instead of facing up to the fact that it just looked a mess, I continued, until the whole area was quilted, and it looked terrible! Even my good friend Jackie had to agree that it really needed to come out. Rats! The thought of undoing that much machine quilting made me put the quilt back into the cupboard, until Christmas, when I finally had plenty of chill time to tackle the task.
By this time, the stitching had left some marks on the fabric in parts, as you can see above, but I think that'll not be too obvious. I have now just quilted the windmill shapes in the ditch, and now it's on to the flying geese. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Crumb-along progress report

Last year I started a Crumb-along with Jo and she has asked for people to post photos of their progress. Lots of others have finished quilts to show, but mine is still in progress. I have made about 80 blocks so far, and have more to make. I want to do a central piece of 9x9 blocks of 6" finished, then a blue border and more scrappy blocks.

Here are 64 blocks to give a flavour of the type of thing I'm aiming for. I love seeing all my scraps, which have such lovely memories for me, and the solid blue really ties it all together. I will get it finished Jo, honest!