Tuesday, 21 May 2013
On Sunday we went to a "Craft & Fine Food Fair", I think those terms are over used. My rule of thumb is if something has to say quality or fine then it probably isn't the best, fresh is another one of these words, i.e freshly made, but what else would it be? We had a pleasant half hour watching Sophie Grigson demo whist we were grazed on Baklava, excellent nuts and some cider that was similar to what I imagine you would have got by sucking your average pub carpet in about 1976 - I don't think you get that damp, beer sodden stench anymore. We joined the National Trust, which we had been talking about for ages, and went around Shugborough Hall. There was lots of really old stuff but we liked the proper seventies style, loved the brown and white print wallpaper.
Charity shopping, little hand made pot £3.50...
tiny hand painted cups and saucer oddments £2.50, was thinking of putting flowers in them.
Posted by sarah moran at 02:34
Saturday, 18 May 2013
Friday, 17 May 2013
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Monday, 13 May 2013
First of all all of your fabric needs to be prepped, which may or may not mean washing, then ironing, cutting straight edges and then working out the pattern formation, in what order the blocks need sewing together and then actually sewing together. In the case of this Cath Kidston-esque, (according to Betsy CK ownes anything floral), little beauty I used old fabrics, I prefer them as they are usually better quality than modern stuff and soft with wear. I used vintage tablecloths, some printed and some hand embroidered bottom drawer type and because I was looking for the best bits I trimmed them up according to what I thought was most appealing and then worried about the dimensions when I was sewing them up. Therefore this takes longer because of all the odd shapes to accommodate, it's a little bit like crazy patchwork but the corners are all right angles. This took me 5 hours.
Next the quilt sandwich is made, batting is the filling whilst the quilt top and back are the bread. I like to use 100% cotton batting, I recently did a king sized quilt with 100% wool and I do like it but I think I prefer the cotton because it acts more like felt when it is being manipulated and the final quilt is a little bit more weighty. Avoid the polyester man-made stuff, if you are going to put in the time and effort don't skimp, value your time. The quilt sandwich is then pinned together with the long lovely to sew over flower head quilting type pins, all the time being manipulated to keep edges straight and pattern even.
Then the basting, a very satisfying activity as it uses massive stitches and you finally feel like you might have a quilt. I think that traditionally quilters are taught to baste in lines like a grid, I can't see the sense in this as it gives you no room for manoeuvre. I always work outwards from the centre point like the rays of the sun, filling in with extra lines on the periphery. This took me 2 hours.
Looking at the basted front it feels like you are nearly there. When I quilt I always start at the middle and work outwards, if I was using straight lines I would start with a cross of the vertical and horizontal. the sun ray method means that the puff of fabric and batting is always smoothed outwards and can easily be tweeked if necessary.
I free machined this quilt which means I dropped the feed dogs on my machine and starting from a centre point free motion stitched one very long and wiggly line. I did stop to replace the bobbin - it used 3 full ones, but I didn't break the continuous line of thread from the spool of cotton on top of my machine. This took me 1 hour. It is a pig to do on an ordinary domestic machine but I like it because I can stitch right up to the embroidered parts without crossing and spoiling the effect of them. I always have in the back of my mind the women who sat patiently embroidering, did they do it for their bottom drawer, did their domestic life turn out to be as perfect as they had hoped. I find that most of the hand embroidered table linen I come across has been used very little, I would guess this is because when the dream turns in to reality no-one actually has time to launder and press linen after every meal.
Finally the quilt is completed with a bias edge finished by hand stitching on the reverse side, with sharp little mitred corners. To make the bias binding and pin it accurately in place and then machine around took me 2 hours. The beautiful hand stitching which is a an invisible hem stitch and perfect points took me 2 hours.
A total of 12 hours labour, but what would this lowly woman's work cost you to buy?
Posted by sarah moran at 13:07
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Last weekend we had lunch in Birmingham and then popped over to see Lauren from Great British Sewing Bee in her new shop. It was busy and full of lovely stuff, we managed some dress fabric - on the table - , embroidery transfers and a bit of ric-rac. The star struck Miss Belle was thrilled to have her photo taken with Lauren, I have never known her so shy.
Betsy's first quilt is all sandwiched up and basted, she is busy machine quilting it.
A couple of weekends ago we went over to a local quilt show, nothing very exciting, much circa. 1985.
Betsy was treated to some cute fabrics by our friend Gail, they are now safely tucked up in her stash suitcase.
I also had a treat, Japanese Quilting, the tiniest patches and stitches, absolutely divine.
I managed to find some suitably delicate prints and I have made a start, it could take a while.
A couple of days before our quilt trip we were offered the last minute opportunity of going to stay in Wales for the weekend of WonderWool as someone had dropped out due to illness. Our trip out with our friend to the quilt show was a firm booking in our diary so Betsy and I decided to brave the ever winding roads of Wales on Saturday night, with a tin of Custard Creams and Sat Nav, how could we fail.
We arrived at Lane Cottage at about 10pm on Saturday night and managed to pack a lot in before we had to leave on Monday morning.
We loved WonderWool and managed to do a little bit of shopping including Angora Yarn, Alpaca Pom Poms, a gorgeous Welsh blank and something I have been after for a while, a Niddy Noddy.
Posted by sarah moran at 04:09
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
I have a friend who thinks that I should be a little more forthcoming about myself for the folks that might not know me but may want to come to one of my classes, she's drugged up on Chemo and Radiotherapy at the moment but I think she may have a few good brain cells left...
This is me in the seventies, a time when adults thought it was fun to give a kid a monkey to hold and make them wear patchwork flares.
This is my other half, also in the seventies, when it was socially acceptable to trim your kids hair using a bowl as a template. That didn't put me off, he had improved a little bit by 1991, although he was rather partial to red shell suit.
We had a boy and I started making stuff.
I even got to make quilts on the telly with Phil and Fern, Britain's Craftiest, I was fairly pregnant at the time although you can't tell. I really dislike the term craft because I think that it generally downgrades handmade or handcrafted work. Centuries ago 'crafts' like tapestry, stained glass and metalwork etc. were regarded more highly than painting but this gradually changed - thats a post for another day. I go along with Richard Sennett, "The Craftsman" (best book ever), in a nutshell, to be an expert you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice, to know your craft inside out. For example if you are a Clockmaker you must be able to take apart and rebuild so it is even better than the original, which means you are so knowledgeable you can work out how to fix any fault that presents itself and the more time you spend at your practice the more critical of your own work you become, you see the detail that others don't and you perfect and perfect and perfect your skill. Your craft can be anything at all, stamp collecting, hairdressing, gardening, plastering, absolutely anything that you work at and can do with with your eyes closed, a skill that is the result of time invested. There are no shortcuts. Sadly today any old dross is passed off as craft, something poorly made, cheaply made, made from a kit. What often goes under the name of craft is inferior and ugly and people accept it because it comes with the craft tag, which is why I say I am a maker. The same reason I avoid anything that says quality, if you need to label it as such it probably isn't.
Then we had a girl, I made more stuff and took a liking to knitting.
I enforced an early love of Liberty Lawn.
I started small with textile courses at Burslem School of Art, a couple of City and Guilds at Reaseheath - Patchwork & Quilting and Embroidered Textiles, City and Guilds Feltmaking at Stafford College and then the big one, MA in Art and Design, (Textile Design) at Wolverhampton University. My original degree was Art History.
I travelled the world looking at hand made textiles.
I even had men running to put on trousers on.
I would recommend India but it was good to be home.
I love wool and so do my owls,
I like using old textiles, stuff just used to be better made,
but my favourite modern stuff is still Liberty.
I make dolls out of a bit of old stuff and a bit wool and a bit of Liberty.
This is Princess Angora, completely hand-stitched from pure wool felt, stuffed with proper sheep's wool, and a mane of Angora (rabbit), each strand individually stitched. Her face is stitched with the most fabulous Danish embroidery floss and her dress is from an old piece of table linen. ONly the best for a princess.
I am all about the fibre.
I have a little bit of a Junior Quilting Bee going on.
I also teach embroidery at the village primary school, 15 future creatives, reception to year four, boys and girls, it's good always good fun but I sometimes need a lie down afterwards.
My philosophy on children is, start them young and keep them at it,
teach them about risk - moulten jam in particular,
and make them fearless.
I reached the big 40 last year in Berlin.
For this milestone I decided that as I was on the downhill slope I would take up boozing and from being absolutely tee-total I thought I would just start at the top and stay there. I partake in a bottle of Champagne every weekend and I can't see the point of bothering with anything else.
I have no co-ordination and was always the last to be picked for teams at school, unless they needed someone tall, and consequently I've never done any sport. I decided 40 would be a good time to start, I do 6 miles (10k) in under 50 minutes, I will be improving on this. I have run 12 miles in two hours but I did start to get a bit bored, even with Buggles, "Video Killed The Radio Star", as my power song. I can't run in leggings like every other lady runner I pass, I am sure they would be much cooler if they were brave, but it's serious short shorts for me. I am learning to embrace the old lady mindset of not caring what I look like and I am trying to pass on this empowering attitude to my daughter who is currently under fire from all of the askew female stereotypes that the world can throw at a seven year old. I have had success already with the twelve year old and he can usually teach me a thing or two.
I go to Spinners and Weavers, I don't spin, I just like going and they tolerate me, some more than others. Betsy and I also go to WI and it's not a young WI as people keep assuming - apart from the 7 year old - it's just a good mix of women. I despair when people ask if I know of a young WI, if you only want to mix with young women go to a night club!
I bake a bit,
and make stuff to eat from scratch,
and I have been known to make the odd award - first at the county show with about 50 other entries - winning quiche. I may just add that for competition purposes the WI require that a quiche is baked all in one, no blind baking, and I can assure you we had no soggy bottoms, which is not easy. I think prayer helped, they were praying for some divine intervention so as not to have to taste test another.
I have vowed never to enter another WI competition, they do not "Inspire Women" as their motto goes, the judges obviously live in a time warp and the knitting judges must be high on the acrylic fumes of their Jean Greenhowe world.
We love Shetland
We have roaming chickens.
I must shamefully admit that I was once defeated by a craft project, I think because it was called a 'craft project' and every tiny detail was prescribed. I did keep it hanging around for about 18 years and 95% of it was complete but I reached a time in my creative journey when I just had to walk away. It went in to a UFO swap, and did get it's own back because I came away with a half finished knitted ballerina. However some wisdom has come from my many years of being a maker, although it is impossible to throw one's own project in the bin it is very easy to chuck out someone else's, and I know that the ugly ballerina knitter knows that.
Finally, the best photo ever taken of me, sadly I am drinking rum out of a jam jar in the street.
Posted by sarah moran at 05:32