22 February 2013


I like to have lots of projects ready to go, so that I can grab a bag on the way out of the house or just to have something ready for when I want to sit down and stitch :)

I have prepped block 2 of Birds of a Feather...

Block 2 of the Caswell quilt, I am almost finished appliqueing block 1 -  I love this quilt!

 And I have been collecting the crewel wools I need to start Manifesto :) loving these colours!

No chance of running out of something to stitch this weekend!!

18 February 2013

Playing with Colour Charts

I am really enjoying stitching the SDW sampler with our SAL, so when I heard that a larger group were planning to SAL on the new Scarlet Letter Manifesto sampler I was really tempted :) Isn't it beautiful? you can see close ups on the SL website HERE While waiting for my chart to arrive, I have been planning how I could fit this project in :)
I already have one large stitching project on fine linen in silks (SDW) and I didn't really want to add another, what I really wanted to start was a needlepoint project to go in our Arts & Crafts style living room, so I began to wonder, could I make this work as a needlepoint? I then read Marsha's description on the website, the original was an 18th century tent stitched picture, perfect of course it would work!

I began to plan how I could convert this from DMC into wool. I had a DMC colour chart and I quickly ordered one for Appleton's Crewel Wool. I love these fibres! The Appleton Brothers have been making crewel wool in London from British wool spun and dyed here for more than 150 years, their crewel and tapestry wools were used by William Morris. The colours are fabulous although the piece will have a more muted feel than one stitched of silk or DMC.
It is easy to find a number conversion from DMC to Appleton's online or simply by looking at the colour charts, but this can result in selecting colours from all over the place :) what is difficult is coming up with a palette of colours that look good together in the same project. Several hours and a headache later! I realised I was approaching it the wrong way and started to look at it as I would a quilt project. I have tried to restrict the number of colours and have chosen light, medium and dark wools from the same or similar colour families. They may differ from the DMC colours slightly but I think the end result is a harmonious palette of colours. I don't plan to use all of the shades of each of these!
Next came the problem of fabric and quantities. I have decided to use penelope 10/20 canvas as this is what is traditionally used in needlepoint. It is a double thread canvas, giving the option of stitching between the lines, the equivalent of stitching over one for 20 count or in the larger holes for 10 count. If I use a combination of petit point (small holes) for the motifs and gros point (large holes) for the background, then the finished size will be approx. 19" x 30" the same as stitching over 2 on 40ct linen. Petit Point also known as continental or tent stitch, is traditionally used for detail...
and basket weave stitch for the background, both look the same as half cross stitch from the front...
The difference is in the back. Petit Point can distort the canvas a little, Basket weave produces a very hard wearing canvas, especially suitable for cushions or chair covers etc and it does not distort the canvas to the same extent, especially if you stitch with a frame. As this piece will hang on the wall, I will probably just use petit/gros point for the whole lot.

After a little experimenting I found one strand of crewel wool for the petit point detail and three strands for the gros point background gave the best coverage.
Next I tried to estimate how much wool I would need, not easy! I have assumed quantities given in the chart are calculated based on using two strands of DMC which means an 8m skein of DMC will give three lots of 2 strands per cut length = 24m, which is about the same as a 25m skein of Appleton's using one strand. I have assumed I will use three times more wool than DMC for the background as I need 3 strands of crewel wool. This calculation is very crude, but I will start with one skein in each colour apart from the backgrounds, I can quickly get more if needed. I am not too concerned with dye lots, although I have ordered hanks of the background colours to try and minimise differences, the motifs stand alone and as I am using three strands I can blend any old/new dye lots in the background easily.

Project Notes:
stitch count: 600 x381
finished size: approx. 30" x 19"
fabric: penelope 10/20 needlepoint canvas
fibres: Appleton's crewel wool
motifs: over one with one strand and size 22 needle
background: over two with three strands and size 18 needle

15 February 2013

SDW Sampler SAL Week 16

The church is taking a long time to fill in! The nice thing about taking pictures for my blog is that I can see that I have made some progress this week even if it doesn't feel like it!

This is where I started on Monday...
And today...

09 February 2013

The Caswell Quilt

One of my favourite online quilt shops is Threadbear in Australia, I love the patterns they carry and when I saw the new quilt by Corliss I had to order the pattern. The Caswell Quilt was inspired by a famous carpet of the same name in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and features thirty blocks of appliqued flowers, leaves, birds and butterflies.
I love Threadbear patterns, this one is over fifty A3 pages printed on good quality paper with colour pictures of each block and full size templates and placement diagrams.
The postman delivered it yesterday and as I now have an empty project basket following the great tidy up, I felt justified in starting to pick fabrics straight away :)
I have been asked how I choose fabrics for my quilts as I very rarely follow the original colours and almost never buy kits. I normally start with what I have in my stash, I buy fabrics I like with no particular plan from the US at sale time and have a good selection of small pieces (FQ's or less) plus a couple of pieces of yardage to choose from. I also buy smaller pieces here in the UK at quilt shows etc, mostly layer cakes or Fat 1/8th bundles. This time I was drawn to the colours in this fabric by Barbara Brackman for Moda from her 'Lately arrived from London' collection. I have a two yard piece of this pattern 8196 'The Seaflower'
I am not really keen on the zigzag border of the original quilt, so this may become a border instead with a narrower teal border/binding.
I knew I had four yards of a fabric that might work for the backgrounds. I bought it online for a different quilt thinking it was neutral dots only to find they were pink! It is Marsha McCloskey Staples IV 920-42
Now that I have the large pieces sorted I start to pull scraps and FQ's of anything that I think I might want to use. I started with the greens as there are a lot of leaves etc in this quilt.
I then started pulling the aquas and yellows that I liked in the border fabric along with some fuchsia.
I find it really useful to refer to a colour wheel at this stage. While I firmly believe that you can never have too many fabrics in a quilt, I do think you can have too many colours. Golden Yellow through Spring Green to Aqua sit together on the same side of the colour wheel and will work well, but the effect can be a little safe. Opposite colours always produce a vibrant quilt, the Spring Green/Green opposites are fuchsia and magenta I add some of these two colours to provide a little sparkle.
All the possible fabrics will sit together in the basket until the quilt is finished.

07 February 2013

Another Hibernating Project

On the 16th of September 2010 a friend and I had a wonderful day out at the Aztec Rose quilt shop in Zwijndrecht, Holland. We both fell in love with a quilt hanging on the wall 'Remember When' by Libby Richardson.
I knew I had some Mary Rose fabrics by Quilt Gate left over from a summer coverlet I had made and decided to use those along with some others I bought from Shabby Fabrics in the US. I also bought a charm pack of 'Victoria' by Nikki Russell for Benartex for some of the applique and I found 2 yds of a lovely border fabric in my stash from 'Heaven Can Wait' by Ro Gregg for Northcott.
We had a planning meeting on the 3rd of November where we cut out all our fabrics and started tracing the embroidery designs. I carried on and prepared all the applique etc, storing everything together as a take along project.
And then I left Holland, and this along with all my stash went in to storage. I haven't looked at it until this week. I had already completed most of the embroidery for the first two blocks so with a couple of hours work, I was able to get these finished. I really love this quilt and am motivated to start working on it again.

06 February 2013

Dear Jane Wednesday

The block for this week is H3 - Berry Baskets. At first glance I thought I would hand piece this one, but as one of my goals this year is to become better acquainted with my machine I decided to paper piece it. I am not a fan of traditional pp, and I really dislike removing the paper afterwards, so when I heard about a new to me method using freezer paper I thought I would give it a try. Anna from Twiddletales has written a fabulous tutorial for this method which you can find HERE
I really like this new colour scheme I have decided on for the full quilt, having previously made blocks in brights and a lap quilt using civil war fabrics (you can see these HERE) I decided I wanted an antique looking feel to this one. I have gone through my stash and pulled fabrics which I think will work, if possible I would like to use a different one for each block. I am not sure if I will have enough of the ivory solid to use for the background but I will use what I have and then look for something similar if necessary.

04 February 2013

A Productive Week

Despite having some kind of weird flu virus last week, I did achieve quite a bit, apart from the major sewing room tidy up, I finished Block one of Vintage Valentine.
and stitched a bit more of the SDW Sampler, I can't believe we have been stitching for 14 weeks and are still not quite half-way!

02 February 2013

The Great Sewing Room Clear Up

I have finally finished sorting and tidying my very small sewing room. This was how it looked a week ago...

And this afternoon...

01 February 2013

January Review and February List

I have been making really good progress on all my WIP's since starting a blog! I think I feel some responsibility to work on them if they are publicly published!

January Progress Report
SDW Sampler SAL 
Making good progress with this sampler and loving our SAL!
Quiltville Mystery Quilt Easy Street 
Still piecing the top - have been distracted by embroidery :)
Vintage Valentine
I am half-way through appliquéing block one, I decided I don't like glue basting!
Birds of a Feather 
Block one complete - I love this quilt, don't know why I waited so long to start it!
Dear Jane
Still managing to make one block a week at least
In addition to working on all these projects I have also completed a major tidy up of my sewing room and revisited a hibernating project.

February - The List
  • Continue with our wonderful SDW SAL
  • Finish VV Block 1
  • Prep BOAF block 2
  • Continue with DJ Wednesday
  • Finish piecing Easy Street
I will see how I manage, the list is very fluid which is just as well as there are many distractions around here :)