28 May 2013

Embroidery Overload

A friend came to visit this afternoon and we had a lovely time chatting and stitching together, having a regular get together is really helpful in making me actually work on projects - I hate having nothing to show! I was away visiting family in Aberdeen last week so I did very little stitching, but did manage a little on a small sewing pouch project I have designed. It was inspired by a padded strawberry design in a very old issue of 'Inspirations' magazine.
While I was away the latest issue arrived, along with this fabulous book by Sophie Long, it is full of nearly 300 pages of beautiful quite modern embroidery and hundreds of beautiful photos. I have just signed up for a 6 week creative embroidery course with Sophie at a local arts centre, which starts on Monday, I can't wait :)
Look at this wonderful box made to look like a cake...
I also love this stunning 3D Clematis design from the latest 'Inspirations' magazine
Maybe I should finish some of my other projects off, before starting any new ones!

19 May 2013

River Thames Heron

I am a member of the Thameside Quilters we have been invited to make quilts for a special exhibition to promote our group at the annual Sandown Quilt Show held at the end of June. We decided on the theme 'The River' as we meet in a church hall right on the River Thames. I don't normally enter competitions and have to admit that I am a little nervous about my work being on display, but as it will not be judged I decided to give it a go :) I had a photograph that my husband took of a Heron sitting on the lock sign on the River Thames near Windsor and decided to use that as my inspiration. I also had an applique pattern of a heron by Eileen Campbell that I altered considerably.
I spent a lot of time drawing and erasing until I was happy with the overall design, and then made a full size pattern...
Then came the problem of fabrics, when you look at the photograph you can see that the river is a sludgy green colour that blends into the bank and trees. I bought some batiks to try and get a natural realistic effect and assembled the heron onto baking paper before auditioning background fabrics. Then it was just a matter of peeling off the bird and fusing it in place.
The applique was then machine stitched with a feather stitch for the heron and button hole stitch for the rest of the pieces, before being machine quilted. It is one of the few quilts I have made totally by machine and could definitely use some more practice, but I am happy with it overall.

My quilt along with lots of others from the group will be hanging at the National Quilt Championships at Sandown from the 21st to 23rd June. Full details HERE if you want to come along :)

15 May 2013

Hand Quilting - Then and Now

I love to hand quilt! Most of the 'real-life' quilters I know are speedy fast machine piecers and quilt with domestic or long arm machines; whilst I love the quilts they make, my heart skips when I stumble across a blog that shows a quilt being stitched by hand :D When I heard that Caron over at the Celebrate Hand Quilting blog was organising a blog hop I jumped at the chance to join in.  Click on the link and be prepared to be amazed by some stunning quilts! http://celebratehandquilting.blogspot.co.uk/

I have made several hand quilted items over the years including many quilts, I blogged about one of them 'Celine' HERE but one of my favourites has to be the second quilt I ever made and the first I designed and quilted by hand (My first ever quilt fell apart after a few weeks as I knew nothing about 1/4" seams or machine piecing or anything else 'quilting' for that matter!) I learned to quilt when we moved to Norway in 1998, from a group of very patient, very talented ladies known as the 'International Piece Makers'. My youngest son was 4 at the time and requested that I make him a grizzly bear quilt (he was obsessed by Animal Planet!) I managed to find a picture I could copy for the bear and was so excited when I discovered there was a quilt block called 'Bear's Paw'. With considerable help from my new friends at quilt group, I got it finished :)
This quilt has every mistake that you can think of, blocks that are different sizes and none of them  square, points that are chopped off...
and toe catching quilting stitches...
that don't even go through to the back...

I was so proud of this quilt (I still am!) and more importantly my son loved it! I love to show people this quilt, as when beginners especially, see my latest quilts they always say they could never hand quilt as they would be no good, their stitches wouldn't be neat enough or small enough etc etc. I get this quilt out and show how I started and how it really is just a question of practice, practice, practice!

This is my latest hand quilting project, a copy of a Welsh quilt held in the V & A, I blogged about it HERE

I have lots more finished quilts, hand quilted and otherwise, I really must take some photos of them to share.

14 May 2013

Finding it hard to concentrate...

It is the same every Spring as soon as the weather gets a little warmer I want to spend all my time in the garden; however there are cold wet days too (lots of them this year!) when I want to be inside stitching. I am finding it hard to settle on one project at the moment and have been constantly flitting about, which I hate. I need to work on finishing off a few things as I seem to have done nothing but start new things these last few weeks. Last week I worked a little on the SDW Sampler, it is slowly progressing :)

I have also prepped the next three blocks for my Russian Sunflowers quilt, I now have four blocks stitched, not bad when you consider that I only work on this once or twice a month at quilt group
While looking for the fabrics I came across these shapes which I had cut out - I have no idea why! or what I intended to do with them!! I think I will piece them together and make a small sewing pouch with them. It will be nice to finally have a finish even if it is small :D

02 May 2013

Hungarian Redwork Runner

One of the really nice things about attending classes is the lovely people that you meet! I don't know anyone else in 'real life' who likes to embroider, a nice chat with the lady next to me at the RSN last month,  revealed that she was the same and as we got on so well in class, and live only 15 minutes apart, we have decided to get together once a fortnight to compare notes and motivate each other in our embroidery. I have finished the class piece (I blogged about it HERE) I am still working on my SDW sampler, but as it is happily ensconced in the study/library on my millennium frame it is not really portable. Whilst browsing for something I could work on when visiting/chatting! I came across this fantastic table runner on the Needle'n Thread blog, Mary has very kindly provided a PDF pattern for anyone who wants to stitch along with her (details on her website HERE) I had a piece of off white linen in my stash but I had to order the threads, much as I would like to support my local shops, they only have a limited range of stranded cottons :(

I enlarged the pattern and traced it on to the linen yesterday afternoon, I like a very fine sepia coloured pigma pen for this as it doesn't smudge or bleed, it is permanent but all the lines will be covered by stitching.

I used the off cut of linen to make some practice stitches, the piece uses only two: regular chain stitch and Hungarian Braided Chain stitch (which I had never worked before) Mary has a fabulous video on her blog showing the stitch step by step. It is very easy and produces a lovely rope effect.
a quick check to make sure I like the thread/fabric choice...
and everything goes into a project pouch...
While looking for something to hold my needles, I came across this needle-case that I made in art class in primary school when I was about 8 or 9, I clearly remember how thrilled I was with it at the time and have decided to use it again. Let's see if my stitches have improved any in the meantime :D

Project Notes:
Pattern: Hungarian Redwork Runner by Mary Corbet of www.needlenthread.com
Fabric: 40 count Newcastle Linen - colour 'Antique White'
Threads: DMC perle cotton size 8 colour 321; DMC coton a broder size 25 colour 321
Stitches: chain stitch (coton a broder) & hungarian braided chain stitch (perle cotton)