Sunday, April 25, 2010

Have you ever done this?

Have you ever walked down the street and found yourself thinking, "Now that would be perfect for ......" I found myself doing just this yesterday, whilst walking down the main shopping street in Northwich. I had just seen a man's shirt walking towards me (the man, not the shirt), and knew that it would have solved my current problems with the Indian fabric quilt I have been working on.

I'd better start from the beginning. I showed the start of the Indian Cotton Quilt, working name "Rosie's Quilt", last time. Laying it out, Rosie and I felt it needed a couple more bright areas to balance one already in place.

(My helper, Felix with the completed blocks.)
On Thursday, I had treated myself to a morning spent with Dot's UFO group - a social Quilting group which meets to sew and chat. I took my new sewing machine along and sat beside some really interesting people. During the course of the morning, I actually managed to wind a bobbin first time - I had been having difficulty getting this right whilst at home on my own. The nice thiong about chatting to other quilters is the variety of ideas which are exchanged. It was suggested that I used quilt-as-you-fo to complete this one. I must admit I hadn't got as far as considering how to proceed with Rosie's Quilt. However, what a good idea. Now I need to decide what to use for the backs of each block.
One of the downsides of going to this group is the amount of wonderful fabrics which Dot brings to sell. (Sadly, her shop is not online.) She had brought a large collection of sale fabrics along. There were some beautiful new fabrics too, but it was the sale fabrics that became my undoing. I bought these:

The smaller pieces - all fat quarters.
And these:

Some metre length pieces. I wondered about using the dark grey for the back of Rosie's quilt using this as a contrast to another paler fabric, perhaps making a chequerboard style of colour arrangement.
Alongside these fabrics I found one cotton suitable for Rosie's quilt. Bright and just what I need to balance the lighter, duller squares. Sadly there was no second colourway to go with it. Which was why I found myself searching around Northwich for material on Saturday.

After a search of the market, I started going into the local Charity shops. In the first shop, I found this.

It was originally a nice little tunic top - too small for me to wear, the fabric was just right and so the tunic was cut up.
Well I am now off to get some serious sewing done. Have fun!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A new toy!

A rather interesting week. I did get quite a lot of sewing done, putting an indian cotton quilt top together for Rosie's bed.

Its going to be a multi-coloured affair, using up pieces from my stash alongside the collection of indian cottons. Not sure what it will look like when it is finished. We shall see.

I'm just in the process of sewing together as many of these blocks as I either have fabric for, or until I have sufficient to make a top to cover the top of my daughter's bed. Then I shall sort out the remainder of the fabric needed.

In the process I made the uncomfortable decision that my old sewing machine really could not cope with the sort of sewing I really want to do. Basic sewing, fine, but it cannot cope with the free machine embroidery I love to do. It always did find quilting rather hard work............ Hence the plan to visit Jaycotts yesterday to check out the sewing machines.

I went into Chester with my younger daughter Rosemary who was home for the weekend. I stocked up with magazines.

After a quick visit to the city, we travelled on to Jaycotts. This is a brilliant place. Here they sell sewing machines, haberdashery, sewing tables, overlockers (sergers), embroidery machines, and all kinds of paraphernalia for sewers. They are so knowledgeable too, willing to answer queries over the phone. Such a helpful place.

After a delightful playtime, I chose this machine. I just could not go home without it.

It is my new toy and I am having a lovely time getting to know it well.

After Jaycotts we went on to take in an exhibition by Chester Ps and Qs. This was a lovely small exhibition where the group had joined forces with a local photographer, ~David Cummings. Sadly, I took no photographs myself.

Rosie and I picked up some Liberty fabric.

These are mine and will be added to my collection as soon as they are washed.

One thing I was very taken by at the exhibition was the beadwork. It was exquisite, not very readily photographed by my own camera. Small hexagons linked by a row of fine beads to the next hexagon instead of using stitch. This looked lovely with the sunshine lighting it through the windows. All stitched by hand.

The photographer (David Cummings) had taken some photographs in Switzerland. It was so nice to see some small quilts using the same theme. What a lovely idea to have quilts and photography sharing the same exhibition space. It strikes me that perhaps this is something small quilt groups could imitate, sharing space with other crafts. It might bring a wider audience to each of the crafts sharing the exhibition space.

On the way home, Rosie and I indulged ourselves with a visit to a bookshop.

I bought these two books for my bookshelf. The Art Nouveau book is for my own Art education. I am trying hard to get around to reading more about Art History. My own knowledge is lamentably rusty.

The book about Trapunto and Boutis came home with me because I only have brief information about these in one of the magazines I have. I rather fancy trying to add more texture into some of my projects. The detailed instructions in this book certainly give me more chance of achieving some raised texture.

After we got home, I spent the evening getting to know my new friend. It was so strange not to be using a Husqvarna. In Jaycotts, I had been far more impressed with this Brother machine than any of the others. Having been shown how to use it for free machine embroidery in the shop, I really could not bear the thought of coming back to buy it at a later date. I chose to get some additional quilting feet rather than take advantage of the free trolley bag the machine should have come with. It already had a lovely large sewing table for use when quilting. (This hasn't been taken out of it's box yet.)
Just for your information, Brother seems to have a much more interesting American site here.

Ah well, back to some sewing. I am already becoming more confident in finding how to achieve the quarter-inch seams I need at the moment. Oh, I must add that Rosie was relieved to realise that the machine she has borrowed now belongs to her.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Getting reacquainted.

Sounds daft, I know. It is a very long time since I really knew my old machine, it's foibles , weaknesses, strengths. I got the strong feeling this last week that, if I was ever to get any sewing done whilst my younger daughter has my own machine, then I would really have to get to know this machine really well once more. I need to trust it. It needs to trust me............

I may be going too far here, but I do talk to my machines and, in return they purr along to me as they work. If I forget to talk to them, they stop working well.......... It has happened far too often for it to be anything other than the truth................... Or perhaps I am going completely around the bend towards insanity.

No, if it works, don't stop doing it.....................

I started by cleaning my untidy workroom. No views of the "before". Believe me, you would not have been able to see much more than glimpses of the floor, and very little of any of the surfaces. There was also an enormous pile of stuff to the left hand side of the sewing machine. This is now tidily put away in the wardrobe. (Away to the right of this photo.)

My dear husband had mentioned the dreadful phrase "throw out...........".

As a true lover of fabric, fibre, yarn and thread, my various stashes have now been caressed, folded, tidied and put away neatly. Only two lengths of a truly dreadful polyester cotton sheeting that had pilled, and which I could never see myself even using as a "muslin" have been sacrificed.

I should explain that the white desk really should belong in my younger daughter's bedroom. There is no room for it in there, so it does service as the table for my overlocker (serger). The books upon it are hers.

I now feel better, more confident and have started using my old machine once more. It was also cleaned during the general tidy-up and is ready to go...........

The latest edition of "Sew Hip", found on a recent trip into W.H.Smiths was truly well-timed. It has this delightful blouse on the front cover. I shall make this, though I shall probably have to alter it quite a lot to fit my more ample bustline.

Inside was this lovely little hanging.

Fun to make, and so useful, it now hangs on my wall. I used scraps of upholstery fabric left over from making a bag. The lining came from the remnants of a skirt I had made from an overly wide-legged pair of trousers.

The extra pocket on the bottom was made from two extra pocket pieces and their lining.

I also added a small pocket inside to hold my sewing machine screwdrivers - so helpful to have those immediately to hand when needing to retrieve the broken point of a needle.......................... Or does it only happen to me?

I have not done very much knitting lately, but the tunic I have struggled with now looks a little more possible.

The cabled jacket abandoned a little while ago looks as if it may get restarted. Well, three WIPs (Works in Progress) is much better than one WIP and two hibernating projects. Isn't it?

Of course, the socks are still under way, albeit at a rather slow (for me) pace.

Perhaps this is an irrelevant thought, but I can even see the telephone on my window sill. True happiness is made of this.