My Soul is fed with needle and thread
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November 2012
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More Christmas Stockings

November 27, 2012   

If you want to make your own quick and easy Christmas stockings you can buy ready printed panels, or simply choose a Christmassy fabric and a simple lining. Once you have found or drafted a pattern you are happy with cut two stockings from the outer fabric and two from the lining, make sure you cut them right sides of the fabric together so you get a left and a right, rather than two lefts or two rights.

Stitch each outer and its lining together along the top edge, then lay the two right sides together outer on outer, lining on lining and stitch right round the whole piece, leaving a gap on the back seam of the lining as indicated between the points of the scissors in the photo

You can then turn the whole thing right sides out, hand stitch the opening in the lining closed and then tuck the lining in.
You might want to consider tucking a ribbon (to use as a hanger) into the back seam of the outer pair, but remember to put it between the seam on the INSIDE before you stitch it, you don’t want it between the outer and the lining do you?
You might also want to top stitch the top edge to stop the lining rolling out, and a few stitches in the seam at the toe to hold the lining in place. And if you aren’t wadding and quilting then choose a furnishing fabric to give some substance to your stocking.

Christmas is coming

November 27, 2012   

And I need to finish a project I began 5 years ago, we were driving to Hull and back twice each weekend to facilitate contact with   my Dearest’s 7 yr old son and 11 yr old daughter. To while away the long car journeys and thinking I might have two children staying with us at Christmas, I began to make them a stocking each to hang at the fireplace.
I have already made a number of Christmas stockings but they are for adults and generally fairly small for the kind of little stocking gifts that amuse adults, these stockings would need to be bigger, much bigger.

I can’t remember where I got the original pattern from, but it has been modified a number of times over the years. There are plenty of stocking patterns on the net if you’d like to try this yourself.
The fabric was my quilt group’s Christmas challenge fabric for 2007, sadly I’m five years too late to enter the challenge, but they will be finished this Christmas, come what may!  There were two colours of co-ordinating fabric, and a collection of small panels. I chose two matching panels one for each side of each stocking, a different colour way for each stocking, so that I could tell them apart.

The panels were applied using bondaweb, and the edge stitched with Gold thread using a fancy machine stitch. I used a stitch which reminded me of icicles, it would have worked far better in silver but the embellishment on the fabric is gold, so my embellishments had to be gold too.

 

I will have to quilt the panels in gold tread before I stitch up the sides of the stockings, and I haven’t quite worked out how I will quilt them, but probably the holly leaves and berries, which I have used before. It’s easy to create your own quilting patterns or stencils, I found a simple line drawing of a holly leaf and berries on an advertising handbill, scaled it up and cut it out of cereal box. I might have used plastic film if I needed to use it on an entire quilt, but cereal packet is fine for a few uses.

Each stocking will have metre of ribbon folded in half and stitched into the back seam so it can be tied with a bow to whatever I want to attach it to, the banister rails are a favourite place.
I plan, if I have time to make a swing tag,a gift tag to hang from each stocking like the little dog on a Radley handbag, with just an initial for each of them V and T, the children are now 12 and 16, their gifts tend to be smaller and more expensive than back then, so the stockings are probably large enough, thank goodness I didn’t make them bigger, stockings have to be well filled at Christmas, a thin and meagre stocking is so dispiriting isn’t it?

Pinwheel Quilt

November 22, 2012   

This is one of the first quilts I made circa 1985, and the first I think which expressed my love of bright colours. It was intended as my own bed quilt. Not sure why, but I don’t think it ever sat on my bed, or was ever slept under.  I suspect that by the time it was finished I already despised it, made as it was with (shock, horror) polyester cotton sheeting! I didn’t really know any better back then, I think I was a student at the time so money was in short supply. Finding fabrics in saturated colour was difficult, and 100% cottons almost unheard of, quilt supplies hard to find. It was made with really thick polyester wadding so it is not heavily quilted, but it is quite puffy and pillowy. I think it would benefit from more quilting, but I’m not planning to do any more, I’d have to re tack it, and as it’s hand quilted, the additions would have to be hand quilted too, it’s a long time since I hand quilted anything, I’m terrible at it, as you can see if you look closely.

 

To see how the block is made  you need to see it as a four patch, divide the block into 4 quarters diagonally and vertically; each of these squares is made up of two triangles, each of which is made of 4 pieces, which when put together make the pinwheel in the centre and the frame surrounding it.

 

It began well but I suspect I lost interest after making twelve blocks, another row would have required an additional 18 blocks, instead of which I made 4, one for each corner and finished it off with very wide borders.  It did mean that there was plenty of colour in the quilt, perhaps if I’d had more pinwheel blocks it would not have given as much impression of colour, the balance of colour and white in the finished quilt would have been more even, and perhaps more anaemic.

see that 60’s fabric yet again 12.00 till 2.00

 

Looking at it now I think it reminds me of the sugar bag quilts of the 1930’s, it’s a happy quilt, and deserves to be seen. I might put it on the bed in my studio, rather than allow it to languish unseen in a packing box in the corner of that room. Then at least it will be slept under occasionally. I sometimes retire to that bed in the middle of the night if I cannot sleep; too hot (me), or too much snoring (not me).

The Quilt on my bed

November 19, 2012   

This is the quilt which lives in my bedroom and is the first to be put on the bed if extra warmth is required, admittedly rarely because my Dearest likes a 14 tog duvet, while I’d be happy with 4 togs (it’s my age, I’m told). In that single week in May we call Summer when the nights are warm and the duvet is cast off the bed, a sheet and this quilt suffice to sleep under. It is my most used quilt but my Dearest still gets told off for sitting on it “en deshabille”.

The block is a simple collection of 16 x 2 inch squares put together randomly from scraps to create a 6 inch square, each block is interspersed with another block made of 4 quarter square triangles in ivory and burgundy, which are then placed with the colours positioned alternately in each row; so that each block of scraps appears to be set in the centre of a larger square of either ivory of burgundy.


Again I used some of my favourite tiny scraps, my 1960’s dress fabric features again, probably only because it could be made from such tiny pieces, and all I had left were the tiniest scraps. In fact I tend to cut 2 inch squares if I can from any fabric scraps I have left, on the grounds that if I can’t get a 2 inch square out of it, it probably isn’t worth keeping. These are then stored in a tin for my next scrap quilt project. It is hand and machine quilted very simply in ivory thread, I didn’t think it needed anything elaborate, scrap quilts don’t, their beauty lies in the fabrics.

The quilt is titled Remembrance, the blocks were a ”Block of the month” challenge which I won sometime back in 1996; made into a quilt that year and exhibited the following year. I didn’t attend the group meeting the night I won the blocks, I had been at a funeral that day, my cousin had lost a long fight with cancer. I thought of her often as I made this quilt, she was younger than me and the first person I had lost still in the flower of youth. Over the years this quilt has been packed away, or otherwise hidden from view, but whenever it surfaced my cousin was always my first thought when I saw it again, it might seem morbid but it isn’t to me, I’m happy to be reminded of her, she was a beautiful woman, and she lived her life. My memories of her are happy ones.

The Old Girl’s dead, are we downhearted? Not at all!

November 16, 2012   

In case you may be wondering, sadly the old jalopy died and was towed away to the scrap heap. Fortunately, being a sensible girl, I had a little money put aside in case of this very eventuality, and so we now have a shiny new (to us at least) BMW parked outside the house. My Dearest is the proud owner, (well registered keeper at any rate) of a very smart BMW 320 D touring, which he says he will let me drive occasionally. He is so pleased with it he keeps looking out of the window to admire it! He even goes out and sits in it, and tomorrow he is going to clean and polish it. Aww, bless! My little precious MX5 is still taxed and on the road until the end of the month, but as the weather forecasters are promising us snow, and plenty of it, I shall be following my previous plan and tucking her up for the winter by December.

Pyramids Quilt

November 16, 2012   

My quilt group have an exhibition biennially; we use it as an opportunity to raise money for charity and like to choose a small local charity rather than a large national charity. We don’t raise much but a little often goes a long way for a small charity, and makes a real and tangible difference. We always create a group quilt to raffle and to publicise the forthcoming exhibition.

This design was presented as a possible group project to create a quilt to raffle, as a member of the committee at the time I took the pattern and volunteered to give it a trial run, to see if it would work as a group quilt. There is one simple piece to cut, and to achieve an optical illusion similar to the tumbling blocks design, it’s necessary to chose fabrics in light, dark and medium tones, one of each tone is then sewn together to produce a triangle; placing the light, dark and medium in the same position in each block to give the effect of a pyramid viewed from above.It’s important always to have the three tones in the same position because the 3D effect of the pyramids only works if the light appears to be coming from the same angle across the whole surface of the quilt.

Although the triangles are put together in rows one pattern which also emerges is the hexagon; it was the hexagon I used as inspiration for my quilting design, as can be seen where it extends into the border.The design never made it as a group quilt, there were just too many possible variables, group quilts work best when the variables are kept to a minimum, this pattern required hand drawing of pieces round templates, cutting with scissors not rotary cutting, there would be fabric placement variables, seam allowance variables….. etc… etc. No there were just too many possible ways in which blocks made by many individuals would fail to go together neatly to produce a quality finished article.

Nevertheless I liked the finished article, so much so I began to make another quilt, from the same design but with a limited palette of just three fabrics, but somehow, somewhere I lost the template, and the impetus to finish, so for years I had a number of cut pieces and a bag of bits, but no template. The original pattern came from an Australian Quilt magazine, which didn’t belong to me, and I’m not sure who owns it. I have subsequently found another template for the same design in a quilting book I bought in (of all places) ALDI. Maybe I’ll get round to finishing that quilt, or maybe not, the thing is … the moment has passed.

A still life with lemons

November 9, 2012   

We all know the old saying “ When life gives you lemons make lemonade” although I prefer “when life gives you lemons reach for salt and Tequila” either way I seem to be getting more than my fair share of lemons lately, so I decided to get my own back by turning a few lemons into Limoncello.

Still life with lemons

Here’s my still life with lemons, one litre bottle of budget Vodka, 500grams sugar, 6 unwaxed lemons, and a large screw top jar.


First thinly peel the lemons being extra careful not to take any white pith off as this is bitter.


Then squeeze the lemons.

only two weeks to go.

Put the sugar in a pan with 200 ml of boiling water and simmer till dissolved, add the peel, bring to the boil and simmer for 15mins, then add the lemon juice, bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes so you don’t damage the glass jar when you decant it. Finally pour into the jar, add the Vodka, and screw on the lid. Gently shake the jar every two days for two weeks.
Strain the liqueur into bottles, (a coffee filter in a funnel works best if you have one), add a little peel for decorative effect and label. Serve chilled as an after dinner treat.

Indian Summer

November 7, 2012   

Just as the Summer was turning into Autumn, and in search of some Autumn colour we went one Sunday for a country drive to an out of the way little teashop we know. The Apple Store is set in a lovely spot on the edge of the Trough of Bowland, an area of outstanding natural beauty, on a country estate. It’s a great place for walkers, and I love it for its trees and the fact that I can sit in the garden of a grand house to enjoy my tea under a huge Ginko tree which must be over a hundred years old. The business is new and a work in progress, the owners are doing up the facilities incrementally as resources allow.

 

Whilst waiting for my tea to be delivered I was free to wander about with my camera, as further evidence that you can find inspiration for quilting everywhere, I found old and broken heating grills in the derelict greenhouse which would make interesting quilting designs, and an old rusting metal chair with an anthemion design, simplified but nevertheless a potential quilting design.

 

 

After tea and cake we walked up the hill towards open moorland and along a road that was wick with young game birds, marvelling at the damage to the roads that flooding had done this summer, and wondering if we will ever see again summers like the long hot summer of 1976.

A fine day at last

November 5, 2012   

A sunny day to round off my rainy hiatus between jobs, so we took the opportunity afforded by my little convertible not being mothballed for the winter quite yet and went out in it with the top down (and plenty of warm layers on) I’ve known it to be warm and balmy into November but this November isn’t one of those, in fact there’s snow on the Lakeland hills already.

Brrrr, snow already

We drove to Silverdale and then on to Arnside where we stopped to buy a picnic in a local bakery, the plan was to drive up to Sandside and stop by the roadside with a view of the Kent Estuary, and the snowy fells beyond to eat our picnic, but it was not to be, before we got there we met with a couple of women standing in the road flagging down the traffic and turning us back, there had been a road accident ahead, and they were trying to keep the road clear for the ambulance. I have to admit my first thoughts were hardly charitable.

My pride and joy, and my Dearest with pie

We ate our picnic in a less salubrious spot, and a very disappointing picnic it was too, maybe I should pack one myself next time.

Things can only get better?

November 5, 2012   

While writing the last long blog and thinking things couldn’t get any worse, they did!
On the morning of the 2nd Nov I received a text from my sister, “Things can only get better?” my Niece’s car was dead on the drive, possibly a dead battery, that’s not fair reward for her kindness now is it?

Meanwhile I have been struggling to get on line at all, I made the mistake of allowing a teenager access to my laptop, consequently it is now so full of malware and pop-ups that it won’t run, not even Facebook, I’m bereft of contact with the outside world. Another disaster, well perhaps that’s overstating the case somewhat.