Fly Stitch, Tumblers and an exhibition

I wanted to demonstrate to a group the almost limitless possibilities of a simple embroidery stitch. A perfect excuse to indulge in one of my favourite activities – playing with colour thread and fabric. I used a piece of my snow-dyed fabric, working with that colour palette and chose fly stitch. It’s a basic, simple loop stitch and I think that often the simpler the stitch, the more you can do with it. Everything (except one back-stitched outline) in the as- yet unfinished sampler is a variation of fly stitch. Interestingly, the twisted version (on the left) looks just like twisted detached chain, and it is! Detached chain stitch and fly stitch are worked with exactly the same movements, the former has both ends of the “loop” into the same hole, the fly stitched doesn’t.

Progress is being made on a small quilt, too. I’ve had a charm pack lurking in a drawer for a couple of years now, I was determined to use. I found the traditional ‘Tumbler’ block and realised this shape would waste very little of each square. I used remnants from making a grand daughter’s dress to sash one side of each piece and loved the zigzag that appeared. Here are the completed rows waiting to be stitched together. Every charm square used and I really like it!

I went to an exhibition by RAWedge at Thaxted. An absolute delight. Not only were the six artists’ finished pieces a joy to look at but their sketchbooks were accessible. So fascinating to see that they had gone through the same processes (via workshops with Mentor  Alex Waylett) and yet produced completely personal work.

Quilt progress

Late again with my blog but a long, sunny bank holiday weekend spent with children and grandchildren is an excellent reason.

Long – time visitors to Threadlines will know I have been, very slowly, working on a bed quilt. I recently finished piecing and adding borders and was then faced with layering the backing, wadding and top and tacking them together. I have a lower back problem which I treat with the utmost respect; neither stretching across a large table, nor working on my knees on the floor would be sufficiently respectful, I felt. The solution? I took it to Bramble Patch on a visit to my daughter and she returned it to me last weekend, efficiently tacked by a long arm quilter. I’m thrilled. Now it feels like a quilt and looks like a quilt!

Next step is wrangling the thing through my standard Bernina to quilt it. Another learning event for me – any tips gratefully received.

Some progress on another project; nine log cabin blocks are now a pieced square that will (probably) form the front of a bag with the two orphaned squares functioning as pockets inside.

 

 

 

In my workshop this week I demonstrated use of Thermofax screens, particularly for layering and altering commercial fabrics. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this process and feel the urge to have a day creating more fabrics. I also unearthed some pieces as examples and have an idea to develop some of them.

More snow – and quilting

After my last post I thought Spring would gradually creep up on us and longer and warmer days were ahead. Hmm.  The Quilters’ Guild had its ‘Spring’ Regional Day for our area on the Saturday the snow returned.  The start of the day was not promising (unless you wanted a snow-filled day!) but most braved the early morning elements and, despite what looked like a blizzard outside most of the time, the roads were clear for our homeward journeys. We were amply rewarded with meeting many friends, patronising the traders and being treated to two excellent talks.

Heather Hasthorpe showed many of her stunning quilts whilst debating what constituted a Modern Quilt or a Contemporary Quilt.  Generously she showcases many on her website here so do go and enjoy! I think my favourite was Red Dragons but there were several contenders.

In the afternoon, with the snow still swirling outside, we were transported to a hot and dry Ghana by Pat Archibald’s account of her visit there, encountering many craftworkers. Weavers, dyers, basketmakers, bead makers – all working with the meagre resources available to them, recycling, repurposing and investing huge amounts of time and labour. One walked two or three hours to gather wood to fire his small kiln which he balanced on springs taken from dismembered car seats.  Her lively and humorous talk gave much food for thought as I surveyed the abundance of ‘stuff’ in my workroom later.  Pat has produced some stunning work based on her African experiences; you can see it on her website here.

The blocks at the top of this post are waiting for me to decide what to do with them.  Our textile group’s most recent challenge involved each of us being given a piece of a beautiful Nancy Crow fabric, to do whatever we wanted.  It graded from light to dark, with a subtle range of greys and misty purples, and I immediately was seized with a desire to make small log cabin blocks (I have no idea where that came from!). In a way it’s wasteful of a precious fabric as so much is hidden in seam allowances, but I do just love the colour movement you can get with this technique.  So I have eleven 3 1/2″ blocks to play with.  Watch this space!

Exploring Interweave quilts

Launching into something completely new is always exciting. Doing it with a group of friends makes it extra special. Last week we each arrived at our textile group meeting with six different fabrics and set out to explore ‘interleave’ quilting. We were inspired by a Kent Williams’ quilt and one of our number worked out how to approach the technique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorting out our colour combinations was the first step – a bit of a leap in the dark, for me anyway as I wasn’t quite clear how the final pieces would come together.

Then cutting the major shapes – a triangle sitting in a square. I am relatively new to quilting and still of a mindset of accurate angles and measurements. It was liberating just to ‘cut a triangle’ (once I’d overcome the urge to use the angles on the ruler!)

 

Slicing up into one inch strips and stitch & flip followed, with the shapes gradually appearing as we worked and the colour combinations revealing themselves

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially seeing the colour choices of everyone else. This technique really does make colours zing, even my quite muted ones (the one at the top here). I can’t wait to try another one.

Patchwork cushions

Several years ago, as part of my City & Guilds course, I made several patchwork blocks in a range of blue / grey batiks.  As I was a beginner each block took a long time and although I was enjoying the process I didn’t really want to invest the time in ‘just’ samples to sit in a drawer.  I did each one as a fully backed, quilted piece with the vague idea that I could make more and create a quilt. Well, time moved on and I made no more blocks.  Also when I put them together I didn’t really like the effect as I had created several different sizes!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago – preparations for Christmas and the realisation that I needed new cushions for the sofa. Coincidentally I was going through some drawers in my workroom trying to find space for yet more ‘essential’ pieces of fabric.  I found the blocks, I gained drawer space and new cushions. Result!

I wanted to pipe the cushion covers because I think it gives a better shape and fortunately I had enough of the dark fabric for all the backs and piping so they look like a set despite being different designs.  I was once again thankful I’d invested  in a piping foot for my Bernina. Actually it isn’t the one marketed as a piping foot, which is number 38 and has a raised right hand side.  I like number 12 which is described as a bulky overlock foot and has quite a deep groove underneath which sits neatly over the cord and works a treat. I used to use the zipper foot but it never quite did the job well.

I do like Christmas preparations! This year I changed the colour scheme of The Table and made a set of place mats with cheerful green, red and gold seasonal fabrics.  I just cut squares in half and matched green with red, used insulating wadding and backed them with more glittery goodness.