Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Shugborough Hall

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.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Fair Isle

The basting continues, 

with a little bit of Bourbon and granola bar baking

and a spot of Fair Isle tuition.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Retro Shopping

Found this for 50p,

don't think I'll be cooking much from it though,

viewing it more as light bright entertainment!

Dread to think of the E numbers.

Found pristine box of place matts for £2.50 and napkins for £1.

£4 well spent.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

What can you make at Sewing School?

 A Parliament of Owls

Crazy patchwork, with or without embellishment.

Something a bit ragged at the edges?

Monday, 13 May 2013

How long does it take to make a quilt?

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?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Textile Loveliness

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.