Sunday, April 29, 2007


Some time ago I swear that I saw a small quilt somewhere on the net with a hollyhock appliqued down one side and sort of Chinese coins on the other and I was thinking it would be a neat thing to try on a doll quilt. I thought I had saved a picture of it. I found that I had not. What's a girl to do but make one up herself? I searched Google Images for hollyhock pictures and used them as inspiration to draft a simple version.
Now, it would have been nice to do hand applique on this because I like the slightly raised effect it gives and the softness of it but ...

(a) the design is way to complicated for a novice like me to hand applique
(b) even if it weren't, it would take me weeks to complete it and my whole raison d'etre for trying doll quilts is that I might even finish a few.
(c) the idea of sewing by hand is I fear, just not for me

In my usual copy-cat mode I really liked the tiny machine stitches Jane used in her Trumpet stars quilt so I thought I would give that a go instead. Here's my progress so far, I fused all the fabric and I've zig-zagged the lighter leaves and stem and I'm liking how it's going up to now. I might do a bit of freehand machine embroidery on the tops as this is very similar to doing fabric postcards. I had fused some yellow centres on the flowers but the colour was too bright so I ripped them off and I'm going to substitute a more subtle hue. Hoping to work on it in the evenings this week (work permitting).
I like hollyhocks, the garden of a house near my son's school is full of them in early summer and they look absolutely spectacular. Never had any success growing them in my own garden, they either don't come up or when they do they are the spindliest plants you've ever seen with one solitary flower. I'll make up for it with my fabric version.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Not much further on

I'm still plugging away at the peacock feathers - have got about 3/4 of the top done now but I've run out of thread so I'll have to have a break until more arrives. The tension on the back has it's own charming idiosyncrasies - when the new thread comes I'm going to tie something round the foot like Keryn and see if that improves it.

I saw on Alison's blog this morning that she took a class where they were given this non-slip rubberised stuff to use when quilting. I've been using it to do the peacock feathers and it's fabulous, it really grips the top because you can press your whole palm on it and not just the tips of your fingers - I'm sure it's better for your wrists and it's dead cheap too.

'Fraid that's about it from me - my job is getting just a tad stressful at the moment - I think it's stifling my creativity a bit.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pot Plants

Don't these pansies look nice altogether? Last Wednesday we called in at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. It's a National Trust property and quite unusual in that it has been preserved in a state of decay and the contents are just as the last owners left it - quite amazing, particularly the attics which are full of old trunks and toys. It has superb gardens and grounds to walk in. The pansies are in the 'Auricula Theatre' (only it has pansies and not auriculas at the moment - I have seen it with auriculas in previous years - click on the link above and there are lots of photos of the house and garden in the gallery).
Meanwhile I've been plugging away at the Depression Top quilting - thanks so much for all the kind comments on my quilting (though I should say that the picture I showed does show it in the best light and that it probably wouldn't stand up to very close scrutiny to say the least).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hope everyone had a good Easter break, we are back from Wales - more of that later. I took lots of stuff with me to work on but way underestimated (a) my own capabilities and (b) the amount of time actually available in between digging on the beach, and generally wandering about - this was no quilt retreat. However, before I went I did sandwich my depression block top - here it is, don't know what happened to my maths capability either because if you look you will see there is a scant 1 inch of spare backing at the top and bottom - I assure you I didn't mean to be quite so parsimonious as that. So far I have only managed to quilt about a quarter of the top, I'm using the peacock feathers that I've seen on Tazzie and Tanya's blogs and I must say I like them even better than meandering. I can only do it in short bursts though - I use up a full bobbin and that's about as much as I can do in one go.
The weather in Wales was superb, as you can see from the photos. Our family has been going to the same place, Tywyn, in Gwynedd, since the 1940's.
In those days my Nan and Grandad took my Mum and her brothers when they were children and camped. Then when static caravans took over they would rent a caravan and eventually my Mum bought a caravan on the site and my uncle has one too. When I was little we used to go on there on huge long holiday trains with many carriages from Birmingham but now hardly anyone goes on holiday by train. Whilst the weather was good, my Mum's caravan is quite old and on it's last legs, it had developed a couple of leaks in the water pipes over the winter so I couldn't have a shower and it may have been lovely in the day but it was bloomin' freezing at night. The photos are of Aberdovey, the next town along the coast - there was an article about it in one of the UK newspapers which described it as stepping back into the 1950's - and that's just what it is like, very unspoilt and traditional. DS loves to dig in the dry sand and you can collect bucketfuls of shells, and in Tywyn there are rock pools to fish in - a kid's paradise but not so attractive to my 17 year old daughter, who stayed at home with her Dad so it was just me, my Mum and my son who went. By the way - I haven't altered the colours in the photograph, the sky really was that blue, in early April, in Wales. (For those of you for whom the significance of this is lost, the weather in Wales is famous for rain and lots of it. But when the sun comes out it is heaven on earth.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Non-quilty (but slightly crafty) post for Tracey

I hope this is going to work because I've got 8 pictures to upload! Tracey asked how I made the boxes for my cakes and I told her I had bought a box-making tool in a closing down sale. Another friend of mine, who makes her own cards, had been telling me about them and how easy it was to make boxes with them. Tracey wanted to see it so I thought I'd show what a fab tool it is, it didn't come with any instructions so I just had to figure out what to do - for all I know I'm doing it wrong but it seems to work.
Gather equipment - box tool, card, rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat.
How big does you box need to be? I wanted a box to hold these tin Easter Eggs that I have bought for my Mum and DD. The egg is 3 inches long, 2 inches wide and 2 inches high.
So, I need the bottom of the box to measure 3X2 inches and if I add on 4 inches to the length and width for the sides I need to cut a piece of card measuring 6 X 7 inches. That will be the bottom of the box. I then need to cut another piece of card slightly bigger - 6 1/8 inches X 7 1/8 inches - for the top - easy with a quilter's acrylic ruler. This is all the measuring you have to do - no need to draw lines on the card or anything.
Butt the card against the raised edge of the box tool - see the marks in the plastic - they are grooves to score down, the first one is an inch wide, the second 2 inches. I used the end of a paintbrush to score. Just turn the card round and score down each edge.

Can you see the marks in the card? It is now scored and easy to fold. All you have to do is to bend each line to form the 4 sides of a box.
Cut down the fold at each end of the box and cut away the excess card to make tabs to glue against the side - no need to be super-accurate as they will just be glued down and unseen.
Glue the tabs and fill the box as desired.
Put the lid on the box (1/8 inch bigger all round seems to be perfect for a lid that is just slightly bigger than the bottom) and wrap. This tool and the rotary cutter and ruler make box making a breeze - I stopped to take photos but if I hadn't this box would LITERALLY have taken me no more than 5 minutes to make and wrap up.