Sunday, 14 September 2014

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Sunflowers in Poland


This building is in Zywiec, a town probably better known for its beer than its Art Nouveau windows.



Here is an enlarged view of the sunflowers.



And here, in another small town, are sunflowers growing out of the masonry of a church, way up high near the roof.  Birds are very daring and inventive gardeners.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Free Motion Mavericks Week 13 - Bindweed and the Rose




This week's experiment has been bindweed leaves, with a slightly exaggerated curl just to make life more interesting and to help fill in the space.  I didn't think I had done a particularly neat job because I kept changing the direction the leaves were pointing, and wasn't sure whether they should be large or small, so over the whole panel the design is inconsistent.  I like the colour of the thread though - the variegated blue shows up well against the yellow and tones in well with colours of the pieced strip on the left. 




The Jubilee Rose wall hanging is now finished and has already been delivered to its new owner.  I kept the binding narrow, in a plain mid brown reminiscent of light wood, to keep the emphasis on the rose.

                                                      blogbutton photo peacockfmq025_zpse5bceb10.jpg

So here goes for week 13...

Firstly, many thanks to  Marly, Alison, PatGwyned and Linda for linking up last week  - a great collection of projects.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link Confessions of a sup.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post and/or grab the linky button for your blog's sidebar.
  .
3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for four days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Monday.

So far bloggers from USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany and Holland have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week!

Linking up with Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and M-R Charbonneau's blog Quilt Matters for TGIFF




Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Present from my Husband



My husband disappears for hours on end to his shed whenever he gets the chance.  He presented this chest of drawers to me the other day.  We have had it for years.  A side panel was split, the drawers kept getting stuck...


... probably because there was some serious warping going on, and it had become more irritating than useful.

After spending rather a long time in the shed, it is now back in the house, having been completely transformed.  He has cut it in width, glued the split in the side panel, rebuilt the framework and drawers using recycled wood where necessary, and given it a good coating of Danish oil to enhance the natural colour of the wood.  The warped front panels of the drawers are still misshapen...




... and it has smart new handles.

It is now filled with lengths of cotton, fat quarters and scraps.  It didn't take me long to fill the drawers to bursting.

Welcome to Esther Aliu, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Around the World

Last week France Nadeau in Canada took part in the Round the World Blog hop, showing pictures of her beautiful work, and very kindly nominated me to follow on.  Thank you France!

The idea is to answer four questions.  The easiest question comes first...

What am I working on?


This morning I did a bit of hand stitching to finish the Jubilee Rose wall hanging.  I still need to sort out a rod and some cord to hang it with.



I am slowly building up a collection of free motion quilted panels so I can put together a FMQ sampler quilt.  Here they are, arranged on the settee in no particular order.  These are the pieces that I have shown in many of the recent weekend posts for the Free Motion Mavericks weekly link up.



And this is a sleeveless blouse that I am making, having cut up my old gardening shirt to make a pattern.  It is slow progress because I thought the summer was about to end.  Suddenly we are having really warm weather again, so perhaps if I made the effort I could wear it this year.

How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I have never owned an electric sewing machine, and apart from about ten minutes at school in the 1960s, I have never used one.  Therefore I make everything using vintage sewing machines.  My newest machine is a 1949 Singer 15K hand machine, which I am using regularly at the moment.

For free motion quilting I use my 1945 Singer 15K treadle, which features on miniature videos on blog posts and also on Youtube

When using attachments such as the ruffler or the buttonholer I like to use my 1936 201K treadle.

As for the fabrics I use, for clothes I like cotton poplin prints.  For quilts, the more I do free motion quilting, the more I enjoy using the plain strong colours and shot cottons from Oakshott.  I tend not to use prints that are up to the minute hot and trendy because they can date a piece of work to within five years or so.  

Somehow I think that using vintage machines with carefully chosen fabric, the finished work can take on a timeless quality.  At least, that's what I like to tell myself.

Why do I write/create what I do?

The obvious reason is that I love sewing and sewing machines.  The children are grown up, I no longer have to go to work, and I can't think of a better way to fill my time.

Secondly, I want to show that old sewing machines are easy to clean up and use, so with my husband we set up a Youtube channel.  My son said noboby would be interested.  He was a student at the time and rather more taken with beer than his mother's hobbies.  I stopped teasing him for saying that quite a while ago - my forecast is that in about five weeks we will reach a million views.



Just for fun, here is a video of my prettiest machine, with music specially composed by my son.

How does my writing/creative process work?

It is perhaps easier to list the things I lack or never use to highlight the limits within which I work:-

Using vintage machines with straight stitch only, I have no zigzag, no backstitching, no overlocking (or serging, as it is known to Americans).

I have no studio or design wall - I use the dining room table and clear things away afterwards when we need to eat.  The settee doubles up as a design wall.  I would use the floor, but it's too mucky.

The grandly named sewing room is in fact a corner of the dining room.

Lack of space means I have to use the quilt as you go method, doing all the stitching by machine. 

I use no glue, spray cans (starch, glue etc), fabric markers, iron-on interfacing, non-woven interfacing, synthetic threads etc. etc - all the sort of products I see recommended in books and magazines, online and in shops, in short, everywhere.  My reasoning is that if people could make fabulous clothes and quilts, say, in the 1930s, with just straight stitch machines and plenty of knowhow, then so can I.

Fortunately, I was well taught at school, learning French seams, felled seams, bound seams and other similar techniques in the late 1960s and early 1970s, so it is second nature for me leave no raw edges in sight.

Quilting is a more recent adventure...  

Appliqué was a challenge, but I worked out how to do it using the sewing machine.  First I make a paper stencil from the pattern, then with the machine I follow the lines of the stencil to stitch the material to be applied to the background material, and only at the end do I actually cut out the shape as I stitch around it by hand in blanket stitch.  For want of a better name, I called this method Vintage Machine Appliqué, and if you click on the heading on the sidebar you will find posts showing how I add stitched decoration with the machine, and how I quilt around it. 

My methods paid off when I entered my Queen's Diamond Jubilee Quilt into the quilt show at Malvern last year and gained my first ever ribbon.



I was delighted at being awarded a Judges' Merit.

Since then I have been working hard at free motion quilting, having taken the cue to get started about two and a half years ago from Leah Day's videos, and this wonderful lady on Youtube.



Leah gave the guidance for the hands, and this lady showed the foot action.  I shall be forever grateful to Leah and the Laga Lady.

My hope now is that by blogging and posting the occasional video on Youtube I can pass on ideas, techniques and inspiration.


Thank you to everyone who has read this far and followed all the links!

Now I have to nominate a blogger to follow on...

Linda at Linda's Landscapes makes wonderful quilted landscapes using a great big scary modern machine, gallons of glue and lots of other things I am frightened of.  She can even make bushes and trees out of thread with her sewing machine by sewing over nothing.  At times I think she and I inhabit different dimensions, but then I see she uses an old electric machine that cost eight dollars (about a tenner in our money, I suppose) and runs up lovely QAYG quilts that she makes up as she goes along.  She is a girl after my own heart and I love her work.  

Linda will be doing her Round the World post in a fortnight's time.

Linking up with Marelize's blog Stitch by Stitch for Anything Goes Monday
and to Caroline's blog SewCanShe for Show Off Saturday 
and Connie's blog Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday
and Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - A Crown Around a Pinnacle



This crown is around the pinnacle of the taller tower of St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow. According to this article, it was placed there in 1666.  It wasn't until I enlarged this photo that I noticed the steeplejack's ladder.


Immediately below the crown is the window where the trumpeter gives the hourly call.  My attempt at a photo of the trumpeter was a pathetic fuzzy effort, so enjoy this video instead.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Meg's New Dress


The highlight of my week has been a trip to see Meg and her family in South Wales.  Even though I finished the dress in time for her third birthday at the end of May, I haven't actually seen her until now.  On her birthday she saw a photo I emailed to her mum and dad, and they told me she was thrilled, saying "I want to twy it on weally soon." 

On Monday she finally twied it on, and here she is, looking all healthy and rosy cheeked after her summer holiday by the sea.  The photo could be better, slightly soft focus - the light was a bit dull and I didn't want to dazzle Meg with a flash.  She posed so nicely, instinctively putting her hands behind her back so we could see the front of her dress better.  I was relieved to see that the size was right, with plenty of room for growth, but not swamping her.

Just a couple more posts to go, showing how I attached the skirt to the bodice and did the button down front, but this photo is too priceless to leave until the very end.

Welcome to Alison, the latest follower - thank you for joining!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Free Motion Mavericks Week 12 - Meandering Round a Rose




This week's free motion quilting has been a meandering background to the Jubilee Rose that I have been working on.  It is going to be a wall hanging, so I only have the binding left to do.


I felt a bit out of practice after being on holiday.  Look closely and you will see where I had to do a bit of unpicking.  I had too dark a thread in the bobbin, and it was showing through - not a problem on patterned fabrics, but definitely not a good idea on ivory white.  Also, getting into the corners between the stems and leaves was a bit of a squeeze, especially because the leaves are slightly raised with an extra layer of wadding - the method I use is shown here.


                                                       blogbutton photo peacockfmq025_zpse5bceb10.jpg

So here goes for week 12...

Firstly, many thanks to Gina, CaroleGwynedDiana, and Cynthia for linking up last week  - a great collection of projects.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link Confessions of a sup.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post and/or grab the linky button for your blog's sidebar.
  .
3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for four days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Monday.

So far bloggers from USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany and Holland have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week!

Welcome to two new followers today, Matsa and Marly - thank you for joining!

Linking up today with Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday
and Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday  

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