Sunday, 18 August 2019

Patchwork USA by Heidi Staples: Book Review

I've just had the chance to review a lovely book that I've spotted coming on Instagram from talented author/designer Heidi Staples @fabricmutt.  She has such a cute zakka-style aesthetic and is always very generous sharing free patterns/tutorials on her blog.  Patchwork USA: 24 Projects For Your Handmade Journey is a road-trip inspired book of makes from the quick 'daytrip' style coasters, snap shot needlebook, to 'weekend getaways' e.g. Hobby Kit,  Color book and finally longer projects- 'Summer Vacation'- like quilts and pillows. 

It is a very pretty book to look through, the photography is so nicely done- clear, cute and with a lot of vintage props!  All the makes are straightforward, there's only one pattern piece which is a corner rounding template, and the enjoyment is in fabric selection and fussy cutting.  It's also a hardback so as it stays open easily and feels extra good in my hands! Let's take a look through first, then I'll show you what I made!


The opening pages are the usual tools and techniques and this is where you refer back to when making a zipper pouch, hand sewing hexagons etc.  Heidi's thoughts on fabric combinations are excellent and especially helpful if you get stuck putting fabrics together to achieve a particular look or using certain colours or prints.  It's very well written and easy to understand with lots of tips and tricks.


The projects all feature some little extra text touches. There's a Historical Marker note telling the story behind the project.  Design tips come under Scenic Route and  Rotary Club lists the fabric and cutting requirements.  Some projects have a Tour Guide section with helpful hints and also a Detour for any project variations.   I made the Penny Pouch, more about that later!


I love these little banners on the Curio Pocket, made with tiny flying geese!


There are three quilt projects, a mini and two larger quilts.  All are easy makes using simple shapes.


At the end of the book, there are some ideas for gifting your makes, playlists and even recipes.  Again, lovely extra touches.


Here's my Penny Pouch.  I used a mix of vintage fabrics from some squares that I was given, plus a few fussy cuts.  


It is a quick make, most of my time was spent arranging my fabrics for colour and print balance.  The zip was from one of my favourite shops, Rose Garden Patchwork.  The colours were just right.


You can just about see the Heather Ross Tiger Lily butterfly print that I chose for the lining.


It's definitely for my use!  The 'K' was from one of Ayumi's Lighthearted fabrics.


 Patchwork USA is a delightful book, a good picker-upper if you need a quick sewing fix or you're lacking in inspiration and a real pleasure to read.   A big thank you to Search Press for sending me a copy to review.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Zadie Jumpsuit Wrap Dress Hack in Lyocell/Tencel

I was lucky enough to try some Lyocell chambray fabric as part of the Minerva Maker team.  Lyocell is a sustainable fabric, you may also have heard it called Tencel.  It has increible drape properties that I can attest to after making this dress!  I loved my Zadie Jumpsuit, pattern by Paper Theory and this is an easy hack of the same pattern. All the details are documented in detail in the Minerva post
check it out here.



The fabric is a little challenging to work with, similar to rayon challis.  It snags easily and is hard to unpick, but it wasn't as tricky to cut and it is a delight to wear.  


These photos were taken in early summer on a day out at a local steam railway.   I was into model railways when I was around 10 or 11 years old and  a steam train is such a fantastic sight that I don't think that childhood passion will ever leave me!  It made a suitably prairie-style backdrop for this dress too!  

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Cowslip Workshops, Christopher Wilson-Tate Antique Quilts Exhibition Part Two

Welcome to part two of personal favourites from Christopher Wilson-Tate's recent exhibition at Cowslip workshops.  Part one is here.  Many of these quilts were also displayed as part of a show and tell at the Wimbourne Fabrics booth (Moda) at this year's Festival of Quilts. 


I chose the quilts above and below for their use of colour.  The top one is silk so it really shimmered.  It dates from 1880/1900 and is from the North country.  I couldn't find any notes on the one below but I was drawn to the orangey, yellow prints. 


This quilt also featured a cheddar colour but this time a solid fabric.  The black fabric looks solid but close up you can see the small floral print. 



This Medallion quilt was one of the older quilts in the exhibition with some of the fabrics dating from the 1770s.  It was made by Mary Gibbs from Sussex, dated 1812.  Such a simple but effective design.  This quilt was the design source for Christopher's first Moda fabric collection, Regency Blues.   Like many of the quilts on display, it was more like a coverlet than a quilt as the wadding layer looked so thin from the side.



This Wedding quilt is my other joint favourite quilt (see the first post for the other one!).  The washed out paste colour palette is very appealing, as are the organic applique shapes and the medallion design.  It's a North Country Wedding quilt from Durham, completed in 1884 and apparently very rare.  It was even better close up...



I love the diagonal ridges on the white background fabric, it looks like a twill weave.  It also looks quite tough to sew through.  You can also see by these details that the applique is raw edge throughout and attached by herringbone stitch.  It combines function and decoration and you can see it's held those fabric pieces in place for over 140 years!  Herringbone stitch also uses a lot of thread, this quilt must've taken many reels considering the quilting stitches too.


This Irish quilt dates from 1780/90 which surprised me as it still seems so fresh with all the spot and sprig light fabrics contrasting against the blues, pinks, yellows and greys.  Another one of my top choices from all the quilts on view,  I do love the hourglass block.   This quilt was also the inspiration source for Christopher's next Moda collection, Regency Ballycastle.



The next quilt was the centre piece of the exhibition.  It was massive, 260cm x 300cm and was originally an exhibit at The Great Exhibition in 1851 at the V&A.  A masterpiece! I was transfixed by the little thread knots, I assume they were holding the hexagon papers in place?  You can see the scale by my blurry thumb floating in front. 







On these last two pictures, I was a little confused by the bluish line around the quilting design and stitches and wondered if any of you could throw any light on this?



It looks like water soluble marker that hasn't come out but obviously that isn't what would've been used for quilts of such age.  Is it pounced chalk maybe that has remained in the fabric?  The marks look too continuous for this.  Anyone have any ideas?  Let me know in the comments.

***Edited to add*** See below in the comments for the explanation!

Such a gorgeous exhibition, I felt very lucky to catch this one. 

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Cowslip Workshops, Christopher Wilson-Tate Antique Quilt Collection Exhibition Part One

I recently spent a lovely day with my daughter at Cowslip workshops in Cornwall enjoying the recent Christopher Wilson-Tate antique quilt exhibition in the barn.  The quilts dated from late 18th century to very early 20th century, all from the UK.  I found information on some of them which I've included after the relevant photos.  These are my highlights part one, there were so many I had to split this into multiple posts! 




The red and white star quilt is from the North Country, Elizabeth Sanderson, c. 1900.


Some of my choices, like this one, were based on the textures created and the muted bright colour palette.




This one was amazing, so large and such tiny hexagons!  There were workshops taking place in the barn so I took this image from the side so as not to disturb the quilters.  The basting and papers are still intact.  Just look at the thickness of the thread.



All the photos are taking on my iPhone X and the double lens allows for close-up photos without, of course, touching the quilts.


This was my daughter's favourite.   It has such beautiful ripples of colour- notice the diagonal cream patterns?   There was a very interesting fabric selection in this one, lots of shirting, lots of pinks and blues...


This quilt is number one of my two joint favourites.  It's an English Victorian quilt and dates from c.1880 and was described as very rare.  It's an on-point medallion quilt with sashed blocks featuring applique centres.  The applique is so quirky!  Some of the appliques were defined shapes like interlocking rings, others were abstract scraps, all neatly needle turned.



I found it so inspiring, definitely one for my inspiration memory bank.  This next quilt featured a similar applique idea.  A mix of English Paper Piecing with the centre hexagons, and then borders of strips and a crazy paving style applique - such a great way to utilise odd-shaped scraps.


The applique pieces included many different weights and weaves too. 


I'll be back with more in part two.  Which is your favourite so far?

Friday, 26 July 2019

July at Plush Addict

The new arrivals never stop at Plush Addict.  Here's my selection for July, a mix of quilting cotton, cotton jersey and bamboo jersey!  I've included some Christmas fabrics as they arrive in July and they're on special offer at the moment, 20% off until this Saturday- sorry I know that's not much time!


Clockwise from top left:
Dashwood Summer Dance 7x FQ Bundle.  This seems appropriate as we reach the peak of summer heat in the UK.  There's also a stunning teal Swallows border print ( a peek can be seen top right in Summer Dance the photo!).

Premium Organic Cotton Jersey Dark denim, also available in mint, rose pink and black.  This is a great value, organic jersey at £14.95/M.  There's 5% spandex for good recovery and spring back and this is a wide width 150cm fabric

Dashwood Christmas Party  Fabulous cats and Christmas print!  This is my kind of Christmas quilt fabric collection, fun, not too red and green and unexpected animals like tigers!

Solid Colour Bamboo Jersey in white and also yellow.  Bamboo with a spandex mix of 5%.  Great drape- similar to viscose jersey but with a bit more body.  Lovely for clothing including sports wear, antibacterial and very pleasant to wear in hot weather.  Bamboo is also a more sustainable fibre than cotton as less water is involved in creating the fibre.

Dashwood Merry & Bright Drawstring Bag Advent Calendar.  I made a similar set to these last year with a Dashwood panel.  You need backing fabric and lots of ribbon/tape for the drawstring.  If you prefer pockets, the Joli Noel is a very pretty alternative.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Certain Stitch Needles: Review

I was offered some needles to review and straightaway they caught my eye.  Certain Stitch Needles by Pony have been designed to make consistent hand stitching easier.  Each needle has a colour band near the tip of the needle, it can be felt on the needle and also as you push the needle into the fabric.  I tried out Short Darners, Crewels and Betweens but I concentrated on the Short Darners.

Each packet of needles contains a mix of sizes and the colour bands vary along with the sizes so you can choose different widths and lengths of needles with different band lengths and colours to create your stitches.  They are a standard cost (currently £1.99 at Wool Warehouse).

I used Short Darners with Aurifil 12 Wt for some bigger stitch details on this coaster.  I sewed through two layers; a quilt block and wadding.  I put some guideline creases in with a Hera marker and quilt ruler and got straight to work trying the needle out.  To work out the stitch length I lay the band of the needle next to the thread end and visually noted a point to aim the needle tip.  Once the needle is in and the tip is ready to come out from underneath, the band comes into play and as I rocked the needle in and out of the layers and watched the band travel through, I did make consistent stitches and sewed faster than I usually would.  The distance from the end of the band to the tip of the needle measured twice the length of the band and I found I could complete several stitches at a time using these visual guides.  You can see a video of these needles at work, plus a voice-over and captions, in my Instagram @verykerryberry highlights




It's a clever idea and I would certainly use the Short Darners on small projects where I want to add big stitches as a detail.  These needles would struggle on layers of fabric, I think they would bend out of shape and be hard to push through seam bulk, but they worked fine without a thimble on the fabric/wadding layers.  I did try the Crewel needles which are shorter and thinner, on the edge of the batting and I did find that they are very useful for establishing a consistent chain stitch (also detached chain stitch)  I tried blanket stitch but I wasn't sure how much they were helping.  It needs more experimentation!


They are an interesting product.  Like any needles, personal preference- size, length, thickness etc. varies with each sewer.  I don't know how resilient the coloured band would be over time either as I've only tested the needles over one afternoon.  I would guess they would wear with use and need replacing. When I posted my video review, one commenter, @sarahtextileart, suggested they could work for Sashiko too which I thought was an interesting idea. Lots of Zakka style projects have Sashiko style stitches along with other simple embroidery details and I think that is what I will use these for.  I did try the Betweens for hand quilting...


This is My Small World Quilt (yes from the QAL four years ago!).  It is a mix of machine quilting for the sky and hand quilting on the buildings and is not yet finished.  I used the longest Between needle on the pinwheels and the roof and curve in the pic above.  These are a lot shorter and I think the distance from the band to the tip is the same as the band length.  I struggle with a rocking motion through three or more layers as it tends to make my wrists and fingers hurt, hence why this remains unfinished.  These needles can take more tension and weight, as you would expect with quilting and I did manage those stitches in quite a short time- still makes my hands hurt though!  I sewed one or two stitches at a time.  The coloured band does make for one less thing to think about so I think I will try to pick this up for short times and use these needles as an incentive to get it finished.   I'm using Coats & Clark Hand Quilting Cotton thread.  It's quite thick with a special coating, it never snaps when I'm tugging knots through and I like the appearance, white seems to go with everything!