Monday, 19 November 2007

Sew much fabric, sew little time, sew true!: Tagged again

Just thought I would make a link to Karol Ann's blog, just to see how it works! I like Karol-Ann's blog, (and Karol Ann!) so I hope you will too.

Sew much fabric, sew little time, sew true!: Tagged again

Challenge Round-up!

Well, I haven't done all that well really. I've updated my UFO list on the right there, and count only 7 items finished, and the list I've chosen to give you is VERY VERY incomplete! My consolation is that if I hadn't set the challenge, those 7 items wouldn't be finished, although I may well have started just as many as I did!
Here's the dinosaur quilt as far as it has got:

On the left are two picture trialling the borders, and on the right is the final choice. I had to buy the bubble fabric as I had nothing at all that was right, even though I tried hard. However, the bubbles fabric is ideal I think. The back will be a rather garish green patterned fabric I bought at sale price for just such a purpose! I think this is a colour scheme that you either love or hate. I like it but I'm quite prepared to believe that it is hideous.
I'm going to have to concentrate on anything that I am making for Christmas now.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

I've been tagged! - Why do I create?

Well, Karol-Ann has tagged me to answer the following five questions that she has on her blog (following a tag herself!). When I've done it I have to tag five other quilters, so I hope I don't repeat...

I can't add pictures to this, sadly, as I am doing it on my Uni computer, and the normal tool bar is not here. Something to do with a browser or java or something, but I have no idea what. After I uploaded all my photos to this computer too. Typical. Anyway, here goes with answering the questions:

1. When did you start to make craft?
Well, I was pretty young! As a very little person I remember drawing cats and ballet shoes. Don't ask me why, except I had a cat and did ballet. Luckily, there are no pictures. My Mum used to make my costumes for the school ballet shoes - I remember being a Hawaiian hula girl in a raffia skirt, an American Indian (I still have some snippets of that fabric!), and a frog. My Miss Muffet costume wasn't home made - it was a very beautiful silk and velvet child's costume that had belonged to either my granny, or more probably my Great Granny. Sadly I have no idea what happened to it. It had a companion 18th Century style dress too. Beautiful.

A little later I remember making embroidered gifts for people, monograms on hankies, tray clothes and felt pin cushion (that was at school). My Granny had a lot of embroidery transfers, some from the 1930s, and I used those as patterns. I think I still have some of them - waste not, want not. Jacobean style was one of my favourites. I also started an embroidery kit in my early teens, but made a mess of it. I hung onto it, and finished it off when I was in my late 20s. It is a lovely picture of a kingfisher flying through weeping willow leaves over water, with fish and dragonflies. It is now framed and hanging in the living room. The kit was a gift from my stepmother, from a BBONT gift catalogue (BBONT was a local wildlife trust). Both my grannies, and my great aunts were knitters, and that influenced me a bit, although I didn't really knit until I was a 'grown-up'. I did crochet though - made hundreds of granny squares for Save the Children blankets. I also went to a local lady for Buckinghamshire lace making lessons. I still have a 5 inch long braid that I made, and a very short piece of more decorative lace. I would love to do that again, but my Mum has all the bobbins and the pillow. That might have to wait...

Mum also did English patchwork (guess - hexagons!) in the 1970s, and I copied.

2. Why did you start creating?
Well, Mummy was also making things - for economy I suppose, but also, I think she just likes the sense of achievement, as do I! As I child I really liked the praise I got for gifts that I had made myself, and this included baking as well as sewing! I also remember that it was normal as I was growing up for people to MAKE the presents that they gave, and I really like that. My Mum made me a wooden dolls bed and all the accessories for it, for example, and a farm landscape and buildings out of hardboard, papier mache and sticky backed plastic. I am of the Blue Peter generation - I was inspired by washing up liquid bottles, matchboxes, old fashioned pegs (I made a lot of Peg dolls).

3. Why do you create?
Just have to! Can't watch telly without doing something with my hands. That ranges from reading a book, doing Sudoku puzzles to knitting and sewing. Sewing with the TV less now as I mostly use the sewing machine, so I have to retreat somewhere. But I get cranky if I don't make something regularly. I actually feel like a failure when I haven't made something. Even if its only curtains!

4. What do you create?
See above! Curtains, clothes, dressing up costumes for the children, toys for the children, whether fabric or otherwise, sometimes I make cards, sometimes I draw and paint although not as much at the moment as I would like, quilts, wallhangings and cushions, household items, sewing kit items, bags, occasional knitting and crochet, mostly for the children ... On and on.

5. Has this changed since you began crafting?
Yes but no! I think the main change is that I try to make things more stylish, although as that is a matter of taste more than anything else, I think I should be satisfied with making things in my own style rather than trying to emulate the style of others. Although learning how to design things while doing City and Guilds has made me more confident with design, I have never been entirely happy with my style. As I have less time at the moment to spend on design, when the urge to make is upon me, I have been trying to work through the design processes of others, so I can get into their minds. This is quite interesting, I liken it to being apprenticed to old masters. I think I am learning a lot doing this, without having to invest a lot of time thinking about design before making something. I just get stuck into following someone else's process, reading what they say about it, and following their recommendations. I then do the thinking while I'm making. I hope when I have more time and space for my own work that this will come to fruition. I really should start a sketchbook again though.

One thing I would like to do more of is exploring creating my own fabrics through dying, painting and embellishing...

Who am I going to tag? Ali, Kate N, Sally, Lynda and Andrea. Sorry girls, hope you don't mind!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Not much creatively speaking

Well, not much has happened at the sewing machine, although I have progressed one quilt from the cut strip stage, to having sewed some together and then cut them up again. Gosh that's amazing! The picture above is from something I made (and finished!) over a weekend in March. Day one was a workshop at one of my local quilt shops. Unfortunately, I failed to take a note of the designer of this beautiful pattern, so I can't give proper credit. I don't think my border does it justice - I rushed it a bit just to get it finished, and the quilting is fairly basic. One of the things I really like about this one is that a lot of the quilting is actually zig zag over the edges of the bonded applique - 2 stages in one! This one is hanging on our bedroom wall, where it cheers me up every morning.

Also, I've started a dinosaur baby quilt and added some borders to the block centre. Stuck on the third outer border, as I don't have quite the right shade of blue.

Otherwise, my next trick will be making a Count Dracula cloak, specification black bat wing shape with scarlet lining. Someone (sadly not me) is going to a fancy dress party. He's going to 2 actually, but has opted to go pirate to the Peter Pan one. That's dead easy, have all the required bits for that one already.

My veg box lady loved the veg bag - I hope she uses it!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Trying to keep up

Well, the last few weeks have been a bit much, without anything in particular happening. Trying to up the pressure on my PhD to progress it, but every time I try that the family needs me. What about me!!!

Anyway, when I can't work on intellectual things I can play with fabric, as that is more 'interruptible' - so I've done a few quilty things, although nothing old is actually finished, and some new things have been started - one of those was finished though, so its not all bad.

My attempts not to buy fabric have been completely useless - I have bought loads! One of my cyber quilting friends was visiting Aberdeen, so I escorted her around some of our quilting shops. Of course I HAD to buy stuff - pictures above!

I have also completed and sent off some Linus blocks to Karol-Ann (sorry can't figure out how to add links). The smallest block was for Karol-Ann to keep.

I also finished off some Hearts and Flowers blocks to send to Jane from British Quilt List. They were a bit quirky, but I hope somebody will like them. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them!
Other progress - actually on a UFO this time, was to add borders and black/white hearts to a cotbed size quilt, originally inspired by a design from the French magazine Magic Patch. Unfortunately, they are really bad at crediting designers, so I can't be sure who originally designed the quilt. Although I have strayed from the original design, because I lost the magazine after I sewed the centre, I think it remains fairly faithful. It's certainly bright!

I've started another batch of Linus blocks. At least I think they are for Linus - I might have to use them for a baby quilt for family, as someone has just produced (a boy, after two girls), and her sister-in-law is next month (I hope a girl, as they have 2 boys!).

Other things done: started a new baby quilt (probably for new cousin no 1 - the wee boy), and a bag started AND finished, as an apology for being a rotten customer of a local veg box scheme. I hope they like it!

Also, I have added eyes to the fish, and other half has hung them on the wall. Sadly, he wants them in a particular place, which isn't right. But never mind. I'll make something else for that spot that is right, and swap later. I haven't taken a picture yet, it's still on the to do list.

That is probably enough for now! I have a parcel to send to someone on the local Freecycle network who wanted embroidery things - another box has been emptied - so I'll take no 2 along to the post office! He's off nursery and missing a trip to Macduff Aquarium as a result. Rats. I'm also missing another meeting in the department. Sometimes, being a modern woman is raw deal. However, I'm glad we're not chattels any more!

Best thing that's happened is my squishy from Ali - lovely fabrics all the way from Australia, and a sweet Christmas decoration. I'm still choosing what to send to Ali, but I had better hurry up.

Bye for now!

Monday, 10 September 2007

One finished, one not sure!

Well, after a fortnight of very little sewing, and concentrating on work/family or family/work, depending on what day of the week it is, I did retreat to my sewing room (aka Stu's bedroom), and finished the baby quilt for my cousin's first born.
I am quite pleased with it, although I had to make a couple of fabric compromises in order to not to buy extra. however, overall, it is quite pleasing. The block arrangement came from Mary Hickey's Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts I changed the border to give it more oomph, as my fabric compromise reduced the contrast in the middle! The quilting is mostly in the ditch for the blocks, with some free quilted hearts on the triangles. The border is free quilted with stars, spirals and meanders.
I have also got a picture of the fully finished Chinese wallhanging:

Finally, I'm not sure whether I have finished this last one or not. The appliqued fish are foundation pieced and are my own invention. However, now that I have quilted and beaded the border, I think they look a little plain. The dark blue centre has been hand-sashiko quilted, but I think the fish need a little more something. What does everybody else think? Sorry it is sideways. On the right hand picture, the left is the top!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Back from London

Well, I'm back from London. 14 hours on the train has left me with a sore back. Dear old GNER - the 125 High Speed Train was wonderful once (nice big seats), but it was so rickety and noisy this time. Not to mention scruffy.

My visit to the V&A was wonderful, if short (two of my favourite items shown above courtesy of pictures on the V&A website - link to all the fashion/textile resources on the right) - I went round a fashion exhibition quite thoroughly, and went up the textile galleries, which were interesting, but a little disappointing - a rather skimpy and partial look at the richness of world textiles. I guess they have far more in storage than they can hope to display, and I suppose it is not their flagship collection.

The shop is great, although I didn't have the time or the energy to examine the books properly. Probably a good thing, as I must have saved heaps of money that way!

Back to sewing tonight.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Some distance from my sewing machine

Hi! Thanks to all you have commented on my 100 day challenge! I am presently in London at the Royal Geographic Society-Institute of British Geographers annual international conference. This sounds very grand, but geographers are a scruffy bunch on the whole! However, they have very nice computers with free internet access here in the basement. I gave my presentation on transport governance to 17 bored intellectuals at 9.30 this morning. My mind went blank and I couldn't remember what I was saying as I said it.

However, my friends in the audience said I was fine, and that I appeared to be completely confident (HA!). Still, probably not saying anything of any interest to transport geographers as I didn't mention buses once.

Since I last posted, I have finished the Chinese wallhanging, except for the label. A photo will be posted as soon as we have restored our broadband connection (AOL blame BT, BT blame AOL). We are both in the information game, so this is very traumatic. On WIP Wednesday, I was trying to finish a baby quilt for one of my cousins, who lives here in London, but I realise that the attempt was futile, and that it was better to finish it properly than to rush it. I'm coming again in November to another conference anyway.

What else have I finished? NOTHING! However, I haven't started anything new either, so that's good isn't it? What shall I reward myself with? Well, I'm just around the corner from the V&A, so I think I might go feast my eyes...

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

UFO 100 day challenge update

Hi to everyone who is holding their breath to see if I can reduce my UFO pile! Well, I started last week, and I have finished 2 (nearly 3) UFOs. I am putting in pictures for you, as there is no point having a blog about a visual medium with nothing to see! What we really want is the pictures anyway!

The green one is a baby quilt, which I started in 1997. All it needed was the binding, which I had half cut. I finally searched out more of the green/black spotted fabric from my hoard and finished off one evening last week. Not bad. I nearly like it now. Sadly it has no destination for the timebeing.

The little Japanese bag was made from a kit I purchased at the spring quilt show in Edinburgh earlier this year, from the lovely people at Euro-Japan Links. The kimono silks are just lovely to work with. I finished this one on Sunday. Several evening events have come and gone since I started this in March!

Finally, I am working on finishing a Chinese wedding wallhanging for a couple who married nearly 2 years ago! Oh well, I usually promise wedding quilts for the second anniversay, which is cotton, although quite a bit of this quilt is red silk. The reason this one has taken so long, is that I made the quilt up (using a pattern from Kitty Pippen's book Quilting with Japanese Fabrics), but couldn't settle on a quilting pattern for the central octagons. As you can see I have found something appropriate, and couched gold cord on with red thread. The top pattern is a stylised chinese character for double happiness, a traditional lucky symbol for weddings. In fact the wedding in question had this particular style distributed in red foil around the tables, and that is where I got it from. I had to change the size though. The bottom symbol is an eternal (love) symbol, which I got from a book on symbols. It is often used in China. I have rounded the corners off to make it look good with the top pattern. I also had to resize it. Aren't photocopiers wonderful!

Monday, 13 August 2007

100 day challenge

Well, having counted the UFOs (including WIPs and PhDs...) over the weekend, and having felt thoroughly miserable on Sunday, I have picked myself up, dusted off the rotary cutter, and started cutting 2" strips from various oddments of fabric that don't seem very inspiring. This act was recommended by Karol-Ann, and I was galvanised by receiving a small red plastic bin with a lid. I thought the toy cars it was filled with needed to be replaced with fabric!

Also, I have finished a ten year old UFO (one of the PhDs), that had languished minus a binding. It's done, it only took an hour, probably less. Only a baby quilt though, and a small one at that...

Also, have now got a memory card for the camera, but I haven't had time to insert it into the camera (too busy blogging, and enjoying Lynda's and Jane's blogs today). Well, you will have to WAIT! I promise that I'll get round to some serious snapping and uploading in the next week (ish).

Anyway, what does the title of this post mean? Well, I am going to see how many UFOs (WIPs and PhDs) I can finish in 100 days. Points will be deducted for new projects started (unless I finish them of course!). My fellow quilt bloggesses can be my official monitors! So, 100 days finishes on Tuesday 20th November (please correct me if I am wrong).

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Quilt sins

Well, what would the seven deadly sins of quilting be? I don't know, but in the interests of feeling in control of my hobby (not to mention my life), I have continued to tidy and sort my quilt belongings, as I move into my eldests bedroom, which with his permission is now shared, so I can sew when he is away at school/with his Dad.

In sorting out the fabric, and refolding, stroking, etc., I am inevitably turning up those UFOs. Well, I have UFOs (UnFinished Objects), which are orphan blocks, and other bits of sewing started but not finished, usually with no idea what they could turn into. I also have WIPs (Works in Progress) - these are cut out or with sewing begun, where I know what I am making. I also have PhDs (Projects Half Done) (I also am doing a real PhD, maybe that should be the subject of another blog - no time, no time), these are where the tops are largely completed or the quilting is in progress. Sadly there are few finished quilts - I think I have 4 in use as bed quilts or wallhangings, plus 5 cushions. One or two quilts are languishing in cupboards. That's it.

But that's OK I hear you say! Well, it isn't, because I have been counting the UFOs, WIPs and PhDs. There were 41 UFOs, 40 PhDs and 29 WIPs. When I stopped counting. Those maths genuises will spot that this makes more than 100 projects started and not finished. This is not counting dressmaking and other crafty endeavours. Is this some kind of record?

I would like to show you some pictures of this extravagant collection. To this end I bought a digital camera two days ago, but the dopes in the shop failed to tell me that I needed to buy a memory card seperately. DH is away this weekend, and I could have played with it to my hearts content without having to own up to expenditure. But I can't get back to the shops to buy a memory card! What I did do was take my 3 yr old on the bus (great excitement for the poor car-strapped mite), and up and down a lot of escalators. He has inherited his father's distaste for actually buying anything, but that didn't stop me buying clothes (Buy One Get One Free) in H&M on the grounds that yes I did like the dresses, but I liked the fact that they are plaid cotton and come in two different colourways even more! In my own defence, I wore one for the rest of the day. Is it work out yet, can I make something out of it?

Sad aren't I?

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Granny's throw and cushions

Well, have sneaked onto Jay's computer, so I can upload a photo...

There are two more cushions to finish, but Granny already has her first instalment! I made this quilt in a Take 6 (FQs) workshop at the Seattle Quilt Company shop in Aberdeen, probably my most favourite fabric shopping haunt, because it is so friendly! I took 6 FQs, and the wide border fabric, but changed two of the "plains", bought 2 (I think) new florals, the pale blue background and the dark blue inner border. The backing is a purple fabric I bought in a sale.
So for my stash diet, it wasn't that successful, as less than half the fabrics used were already in my collection. However, the cushion backs (2 at least) have come from my collection: leftover Laura Ashley lightweight curtain fabric in blue/cream large scale plaid. If I had paid attention when I was cutting it, I would have got all four backs from it, but only realised too late, so have only enough for three. I have used it for two, and will have to scour the bags, boxes and drawers for something else for the other two, that will tone!

Monday, 6 August 2007

Stash progress...

Well, on my trip to my parents in Hampshire, for the Lang Gang Picnic, I bought NO fabric. However, I did visit a charity shop and picked up a red and white skirt for patchwork reasons. On my return home, I bought no fabric, except I went to another charity shop, and bought another skirt, tiered this time, with 5 different fabrics, 4 pink and 1 blue! Guess why...

Sadly, I can't post any pictures of these choice items, as my computer isn't speaking to Jay's, although it is SUPPOSED to.

I haven't made anything either, but I did buy 2 cushion pads (and 4 dress patterns, but that is another addiction, for a different blog), so now I have no excuse but to finish the remaining two cushions for the set for Granny.

I have also found a simplified version of a double happiness character, so I can finally finish my Chinese wedding hanging that I made for friends (German/Chinese) who married nearly 2 years ago! I shall have to tantalise you about those too...

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Holiday triumph!

Well, I've had a week's holiday on the beautiful West Coast of Scotland, and I managed to not go to the craft shop in Oban twice! This means that I have not bought any new fabric for over a week. I feel guilty that I did not contribute to the local economy though...

However, we spent money on other things so I guess that is OK. Also, I got my reward for good behaviour, as today Karol-Ann's parcel arrived with lovely fabrics (only 1 duplicate of something I have) to swap. I am going to have a lovely evening choosing things to send her in return.

I have been sewing hard today - I am off on a tour of family next week, and want to finish some cushions and a matching throw for my m-i-law, for her new flat. So I'm quilting away, and using up fabric for the backs - hooray!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

One step forward, two steps back

Well, two days into this experiment, and I have spent £6 on charity shop purchases for patchwork purposes, and bought 3 sewing magazines, despite having no shortage of published ideas for me to work from!

However, I have also made 2 new quilty/bloggy friends, Kate N and Karol Ann - I would like to add links to their blogs, but don't know if you can do that, or whether they want me to! Maybe someone can let me know.

In reducing my stash, I have a promise of a swap - not really a reduction, just a stir! In the general spirit of compacting though (which is apparently what not buying things is called), I have spent an enjoyable hour fusing together plastic bags (the rustly type) with an iron and craft paper as a surface and iron protector. I found the instructions on another craft list somewhere (craftster?), and they seem to work fairly well. I got clever and applique fused some flowers (ever the quilter...) cut from coloured bags.

My first effort is pretty ropey, but it has definite possibilities and would be good for making waterproof bags. The finished fabric is quite robust in feel, and should be stitchable. Photo to follow eventually! Everyone else in the house was completely underwhelmed by it though.

Monday, 2 July 2007

My first Q-blog entry

Not quite my first blog, but pretty close to it! I'm going to keep this one just for blogging about quiltmaking. I'm pretty much an amateur at this, although I've been doing it for 20 years, and have my City and Guilds. However, I'm not really that talented, just love fabric, and stitching, and making things. Especially making things out of nothing. And this blog is going to be about trying not to buy fabric.

In all the books and magazines and the quilt fora that I belong to quilters are both apologetic and defiant about the size of our fabric stash. So I'm probably not alone in admitting to owning a gargantuan amount of fabric. Some that I have had for 20 years. I still know where I got the early stuff, although I am more hazy about some of the more recent purchases, as my shopping habit has got out of hand.

I know I can't use this stuff. I know that a consumer attitude to my hobby is bad for me financially and psychologically and bad for the environment. Worse still almost is the paralysing effect all these materials have on my creativity. I have so many possibilities, I cannot choose, and I have more UFOs than I can remember. I find things everywhere. The mess upsets my other half and my step daughter. Thankfully my sons don't care about it all.

It's got to stop. This blog is a companion to my blog on MySpace ( where I shall report occasionally on my efforts not to buy new stuff. Here I am undertaking to use up my stash! I am going on a stash diet (please nobody publish that book title before me). I will post pictures of my finished objects - if I run out of pristine fabric, I shall make do, learn to dye, or paint, or embellish (using my stocks of other craft materials bought just in case). I will rediscover my creativity and I shall have fun. I will no longer be burdened by the environmental damage done by indulging my hobby, which used to be all about thrift, make do and mend. Anyone want to join me?