Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday Pear

Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
It is Wednesday again, and time for playing with the Art Quilt Workbook. I'm taking my own sweet time here, doing just a little bit each week, because I'm working towards a deadline on another project. I've decided not to get all stressed out about this, though, but to take time to play and have fun. I have just been cutting and fusing today, no sewing at all, as my machine was giving me a lot of trouble yesterday. I think it needs a good cleaning and oiling session before I sew anything at all. I'll get to that later, but for now I have some hand stitching to get to. More from the Wednesday Workbook project here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

New book, new inspiration

It's finally arrived! Ever since I first heard that Jane Brocket was writing a quilting book, I have been looking forward to holding it in my hands. Her previous blog "Yarnstorm" was one of the first blogs I started following when I stumbled into blogland years ago and I have been enjoying her way with words and her beautiful photos of knitting, fabrics, quilts, flowers and sumptuous cakes ever since. Jane has published several books already, and I have enjoyed them all, and being a quilter, this was another one I just had to have. And it doesn't disappoint.

You know that a quilt book is working for you when you have to stop reading mid-sentence to start pulling fabric out of your stash! But the book is well worth reading and full of great pictures of the 15 quilts presented. They are fairly simple quilts - mainly squares and strips -but the way Jane has made her fabric choices work together, make them much more sophisticated than you would have thouht from looking at sketches of the layouts of the quilts. The book would be a great one for a beginning quilter, giving lots of sound advice about buying fabric and how to approach the quiltmaking process. But it is also a very good read, and full of inspiration for long-time quilters such as myself when she talks about the story behind each of her quilts: what inspired the quilt, how she went about choosing her fabrics, where she found them and who they are by (something we quilters always want to know, right?), how she made them, how she changed her mind during the process, removed some fabrics, added new ones etc. I think this book would give new quilters a boost of confidence - learning that great quilts don't always get thrown together by a snap of your fingers, but that you actually might have to let go of your initial ideas and change direction during the process of choosing fabrics and shapes, and that it is perfectly all right to do so.
All in all this is a very enjoyable book, and if only I find the time to actually make them, it will inspire me to make several quilts in future. Or at least dream up several more quilts I want to make, and thats half the fun of quiltmaking, isn't it? -)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Workbook Wednesday Chapter 2 - Perspective

Yay, I have got to the sewing part of Workbook Wednesday now, and yesterday I managed to ge my batting and backing sorted out and cut to the right sizes and started pulling out fabrics to use for the projects in the workbook. We will be making several small quilts (9 x 12) and this way I should have everything I need at the ready when I can grab a moment to do one of the exercises. I have decided on windows as a theme, and in this perspective excercise I'm looking out, as you can see...
I found a quiet background, and I suppose this choice means going with a more Tuscan colourway than the blue/teal/green I had in mind at first, but we'll see as I get going - things may change...

Monday, April 19, 2010


Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I'm keeping myself busy, alternating between machine and hand quilting on my Harvest quilt. It just dawned on me how appropriate it actually is to quilt what seems like furrows on this, it beeing a harvest quilt and all... It might have been my subconcious that helped me choose this quilting, perhaps...
- Or just that I'm inspired by BooDilly's quilts again, except from the fact that I have deliberately stitched wonky lines because I know I'd have trouble keeping my lines straight. I'm also choosing the easy route by stitching one line the right way, then 3/4 of an inch (or so) to the right, before hitting the reverse button on the machine and going back to the top - as little twisting and turning of the quilt as possible! I thought at first that I would just machine stitch this quilt, but realized that the lines would have had to be much closer to get the effect I wanted, so after a little deliberation I ended up handquilting in between the rows of machine stitching. I'm using Sulky Blendable 12 weight thread and intentionally keeping my stitches fairly large and uneven. That's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-) Actually I think I quite like the effect...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poignant sampler

I was browsing through the digital archives of the V&A (Victoria and Albert museum, London) looking at quilts in their current exhibition and other textiles, when I came across this amazing sampler that I just had to share.

It is a unique piece of embroidery so poignant that it brought tears to my eyes. Apparently it is the confessions of a young woman about her lot in life, done entirely in cross stitch, embroidered with silk on linen in tiny stitches. The young woman, Elizabeth Parker, was born in 1813 and was working as a nursery maid when she committed her thoughts to fabric.
According to the description on the web-page:
“She describes what she sees as her own weaknesses and sins, and the trials she had to face from employers who treated her 'with cruelty too horrible to mention', in this deeply personal confession of her temptation to suicide. As the text continues her desperation increases, '..which way can I turn oh whither must I flee to find the Lord wretch wretch that I am …what will become of me ah me what will become of me'.”
I find it amazing that she would choose to use fabric and thread to express her thoughts. The slowness of the process must have given her time to work out what she wanted to say, and weigh her words accordingly, and still she felt the urge to pour it all out for the world to see. Or maybe her choice of medium actually made it more private than a journal would have been for her? I’m thinking that maybe a woman’s embroidery held so little significance for her contemporaries, that it was the best way of keeping her thoughts to herself? It was just a piece of cloth stuffed in her work basket, after all. Or maybe it was just the opposite -that she felt so angry and bitter that she wanted the world to see what she was going through, so this was actually an early piece of subversive cross-stitch? Whatever the reason, we’ll never know, and although her sampler breaks off in mid-sentence with the words “What will become of my soul “, we can at least take comfort in the fact that historians have discovered that Elizabeth lived to be 76, became a schoolteacher, raised her sister’s daughter and lived what is described as “a moderately comfortable life”. We’ll never know what went on in her mind, in those later years though.
You can look at other interesting textiles in the V&A archives here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Workbook Wednesday

And we're off and running! I have joined Upstatelisa's Workbook Wednesday project in an effort to learn more about art quilting. It's early days yet, and so far, I think Lisa is the only one who has actually started a quilt.

We will be working our way through this book: "Art Quilt Workbook" by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston. The first two chapters are all about colour theory and things like perspective and such. Had I been doing this on my own, I suppose I would just have skimmed through these chapters and thrown myself into the quiltmaking part. But that's actually one of the advantages of doing this with somebody else - you keep on the straight and narrow and actually do those excercises, and there is actually something to learn from having to think things through, do the sketching (I'm definitely no artist when it comes to figurative drawing!), cut the fabric squares and make your choices based on word prompts and such.
We are supposed to choose a theme for the series of quilts we are making, and after a lot of thinking back and forth, I have decided on windows. That can be taken literally: windows on buildings, with a choice of looking in or out. But there are other options: windows of opportunity, eyes being the windows of the soul etc, so I'm leaving myself several choices along the way here.
I have been thinking of a palette for the series as well, and I suppose the jury is still out on that. I tend to go for blues, greens, aquas and maybe a bit of fuchsia thrown in for contrast, but that might just be taking the easy way out. Maybe something more earthy? Terracotta, ochre, olive and pine green, sunflower yellow - and suddenly I have a Tuscan summer in mind.
That's definitely where I was going when I was pulling out these first fabrics, but I do realize that the background here will be far too busy for the trees to stand out. If I go with that Tuscan colour story it might come in handy later, though. I didn't get time to start sewing today, but I'll be working steadily along and report my progress next Wednesday. Meanwhile, check out what we're all doing in the Workbook Wednesday pool.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get a life?

Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I just finished this little quilt. It's not as impressive as it might seem, it's actually a Mary Engelbreit panel and I've just added the blue border. There's a lot of quilting on it though - the entire black background is covered in scattered seed stitches, I have added quilting lines around the borders of the panel and alternating lines of machine stitching and handquilting in the blue border ( a Jane Sassaman print), inspired by the wonderful works of BooDilly. By the time I had finished quilting everything else, the cheeky little girl had lost her perkiness and seemed to be wearing a dress several sizes too big for her. I amended that by cutting a slit in the backing fabric and lightly stuffing her with fiberfill before adding a patch to cover the scar. I hung her in my office today, and my was she popular! Everybody seemed to feel an urge to come over and touch the surface and study the different textures. At this rate I'll have to take her home for a good wash soon! Never mind - it made people interested in what I do, and that makes a change. We don't all have to talk about soccer all of the time, do we?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coasting through

How many silly puns can you take? That's just how it is here, I'm afraid. I finally remembered to take a picture of the round coasters I made just after I finished the square ones. I found the pictures here, and printed them out on fabric. After a quick spiral of quilting on each, I added binding cut on the bias. Well, actually, I managed to cut a piece of fabric to use this method, and cut my strips along the straight of grain anyway. I don't know what I was thinking! Well, I wasn't thinking, I suppose!! I couldnt for the life of me understand why I couldnt get the first coaster to lie flat and tried pressing it, spraying it with water, dunking it in water and press, press, press, but no luck. When it finally dawned on me that it wasn't cut on the bias, the coaster (the red one) looked a bit worse for wear, but I removed the binding and attached a new bias strip anyway. Hopefully I'll remember next time...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Owl be making more of these...

I know, I know - silly pun! But sometimes I just can't resist them :-) I made some of these for my sister earlier for her to give to her friends, but she loved them so much that I could see she was reluctant to give them away. Today is her birthday, so I made her one to keep. No doubt the other two will want some as well, but thankfully they are easy to make. Maybe I should put the pattern up here as well?
This is also for my sister. Pattern from this book - except that I didn't actually follow the pattern, just had the picture in mind and winged it - sometimes I'm just too lazy to go get the instructions... But it turned out quite well, anyway I think. Let's hope she likes it.