Archive | quilting

African Fabric Quilt

I actually made a quilt the other day!  And it is the biggest I’ve ever made – it is just a bit bigger than single bed size – not remarkable for most quilters, but even when I did City & Guilds the largest I made was a lapquilt sized wall quilt and most of the others have been art ones.

African quilt draped over chair

African fabric quilt all finished!

It is made from African Dutch wax prints fabric – it is very colourful, isn’t it?  The quilting wouldn’t win any prizes but I was pleased to actually finish something.  I quite enjoyed just mindlessly sewing without having to make too many design decisions along the way.

colourful quilt

Very colourful!

colourful quilt

Don’t look too closely at the stitching!

I watched a Youtube video on making jelly roll quilts and there was a pile of African fabrics on my shelves so I cut them into strips and rolled them up… The Missouri Quilt Company who made the video have a channel on Youtube with lots of others if you feel like a good browse…

jelly roll in African fabric

Not as neat as purchased jelly rolls!

jelly roll

Very colourful and inspiring seeing all these patterns rolled up together!

another view of jelly roll

Looks good from all angles… 
Sewing machine with some of the fabric

That particular fabric was used for the borders – DH bought it back from Zambia for me.

Festival of Quilts

I am starting to write this on the train home from FOQ on Saturday evening (using Evernote again).  I only managed to make one day this year because DS2 was expecting his A level results on Thursday (he got a disgustingly high number of A*s and a place at Cambridge!)

My favourite exhibit this year was the European Art Quilt Foundation’s, closely followed by Cas Holmes.  Els van Baarle had a quilt inspired by a map which was striking in its simplicity.  I especially noticed that there seemed to be lots of chiffon this year, floating whenever the breeze caught it, and casting evocative shadows on the walls behind.

I didn’t seem to spend so long watching the demos in the virtual studio this year; maybe this is a good sign that I’m focussing less on technique and more on strength of design… they had changed the layout of the show this year and it took a while to actually find it!

I stocked up on thread and replaced my old clapped out rotary cutter and buckled cutting mat, and got some woolly nylon thread useful for winding in the bobbin when stitching hems with a double needle on stretchy fabric.  Yes, I am enhancing my wardrobe with a comfy Vogue dress designed by Sandra Betzina.  One of my latest purchases is an ex-library book from the San Diego County Library via ABE books, Power Sewing by Sandra herself.  It looks really easy and practical to follow so I’ll let you know how I get on.  I used to do a lot of dressmaking but am hopeless at altering patterns so if a pattern doesn’t fit perfectly, unless it is really stretchy like this dress, I often end up making stuff and not wearing it.  Anyway, this is the dress – it just needs hemming but I needed some woolly nylon thread to use in the bobbin because the pattern calls for a double needle stitched hem.

vogue dress

I also met Mags Ramsay at the show, who was manning the SAQA Masters 2 exhibit and had a lovely chat: one of the best things about FOQ, I find, is the random conversations with strangers and fellow bloggers alike. 

river severn in gloucestershire

The train journey home was very picturesque – the train line runs along the River Severn from Gloucester to Chepstow.  Especially when the sun is setting…

Birth of a City

… and other stuff.  Birth of a City is the title of my latest artwork.  I first started printing this cloth over a year ago and it has grown and developed until, finally, I am satisfied with it!  As you may know, one of my other interests is genealogy – tracing my family history down the generations – and many of my ancestors lived and worked in the city where I grew up, Stoke on Trent.    A lot of them were engaged in the trade that it is best known for – pottery.

I had already printed the background in various shades and values of blue (with two different thermofax screens), overprinted it in orange/gold using soy wax as a resist and then discharged some of it.  I then decided to take a (VERY) rough sketch of the streets around where my Nan grew up in Longton, altering the two main ones to vaguely echo the shape of the old bottle kilns that pervaded the city and gave it its unique character.  I used masking tape as a resist and overprinted the ‘buildings’ using the larger scale thermofax screen in black ink to make it look like the old street maps from the 19th century.

'birth of a city', my latest quilt

When I looked at it, I then saw that the two main ‘streets’ didn’t look so much like a bottle kiln as a pregnant woman, so I decided to call it ‘Birth of a City’, thinking of the haphhazard, unplanned way the city grew up as hordes of people flocked into it from the countryside to work in the potbanks, leading to overcrowding, poverty and rampant disease.  People lived crammed into houses too small for them; houses sprang up next to factories.

Here is a detail of the hanging:

detail of 'birth of a city'

I wanted to emphasize the rough and ready, homespun nature of the theme, so I decided just to hand quilt it with horizontal running stitches to an old blanket, patched and worn and ragged in places. I left the raw edges of the fabric and just had the original blanket stitches as binding.

detail of 'birth of a city'

Due to the Easter holidays and the fact that my two teenage sons are in the throes of revising for GCSEs and A levels, I am late completing the latest challenge for the International Quilt Challenge, which is Time.   Rather ironic really, due to lack of time…  But I thought I’d put down my thoughts for it so far.

The way I wanted to approach this theme was something around the idea of ‘the past is another country’.  I tried to brainstorm this and wrote down what came into my head….

… time past … we think it will be familiar going back, but actually we have changed and moved on, so what we were, who we were, the old familiar landmarks, look strange to us… strange and foreign…

We have forgotten …

We have a kind of nostalgia but we can never go back, we can only revisit old haunts, some of which will have remained the same, some will have changed forever;

we look at them differently, through different eyes; we are probably taller: things there look smaller, older; strangely familiar yet also foreign to the self that is our present.

And if we could go back to our grandparents’ childhood, into an old photograph, we would experience total culture shock

– the sights

– the sounds

– the smells

– the familiar-yet-unfamiliar ; kin yet unknown people

Anyway, that is as far as I got, and it was taking too long and I got stuck with how to move from there to fabric.  I thought I’d put my thoughts down here in case I use them for another project; but then I got another idea for the theme.

Last night I decided to update my Dreaming Spirals Facebook Page – I had not changed it since the new timeline was adopted and it needed a new photograph as the header.  I decided to make a collage in Picasa of my five Reeds wallhangings.  This is the result:

Facebook Page new banner

Today I was thinking about the theme of the challenge again and I decided to change tack completely.  I thought of the various seasons the reeds go through in the course of a year (recorded in this blog in 2010) when I visited them each month for a year to see how they change, and I thought of those timelapse videos where a camera is set to take photos at regular intervals of, say, a plant growing, and then they are put together into a video as if the plant was moving.  All my reeds pieces record a different season of the year so I thought I would try and blend them together using scraps from these pieces as a starting point to show the movement of time.  (If you would like to see the reeds photos again, here is a collage of them that I made at the end of that year).

So that is my plan at the moment!  Watch this space…. Meanwhile, do go and explore my Facebook Page – it looks quite different now.

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