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!

Sunday 14 July 2019

Sunday Selection

I'm back with two more Simple Folk BOM quilt blocks and a Sunday Selection of things to read, watch and listen to with a sewing theme.  Firstly the blocks.  I completed the bull at my monthly Modern Quilt Guild meeting yesterday.  That gives you an idea of how long it takes to complete a block!  I started sewing around 10.30am and sewed almost constantly (allowing for lunch and chatting) until 3.45pm!  

The block below shows a corrected error I made with a section of background in eight border blocks which I've had to partially unpick and make good. The grey dotty triangle is the correction- I'd pieced blue triangles and some had the applique completed over the top like the one below.  At least I realised!  I've sorted four out of eight so far.

So, the Simple Folk Quilt continues to progress.  

Blog Read
Pattern Bank is an industry-focused website for forecasting textile print and pattern design. The
Print and Pattern Highlights from Haute Couture Fall 2019 show a strong influence of textile craft from embroidery hoops as part of a dress, to quilt blocks as fabric design, well worth a look!

Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced has made a Youtube video to illustrate her favourite foundation paper piecing tip: Never Tear out Your Paper Piecing Stitches Again!  She shows a quick and easy technique to ensure your fabric will always cover the section you're working on, even with diagonal lines and tricky acute angles.  You can also read the same tip in a blog post she wrote for the Bernina blog.

My listening choice is not sewing related but is definitely a fun podcast to listen too whilst sewing. Walking the Dog by Emily Dean for The Times features Emily talking to various UK writers, comedians, actors, politicians and public figures whilst walking a dog- either their dog, her dog Raymond or a borrowed dog from rescue charity The Dog's Trust.  You do need to get past the opening of each programme where Emily has a tendency to be a little over effusive in her introduction to guests and of their accomplishments.  Once that's out of the way, there's a delightful mix of dog chat and lively conversation.  The guests often seem to open up in a much more natural and in-depth way than the standard TV chat show interview.  

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Applique Thread: what a difference 80wt makes...

I've been steadily progressing with my Sarah Fielke Simple Folk quilt.  The animals are so enjoyable to sew.  I usually use Aurifil 50wt for applique; I have so many colours that I can nearly always colour match and I found the stitches were hardly visible.  I do have one or two reels of 80wt thread from retreat goodie bags and although I've tried this lighter weight for piecing (which didn't work out), I hadn't tried it for applique and the grey seemed like a good match.  It was amazing, invisible stitches even at the V areas around the feet where there are many extra stitches to compensate for fraying fabric.

It's hard to see the difference but you can feel it as you stitch.  For hand piecing, I found the thread just didn't hold up to the pulling, especially loading several stitches onto a needle at once.  But, for applique it's a game changer for me.  I only have three colours of 80wt so I'm planning some future additions.  As it's so lightweight, there's so much thread on each bobbin (274 metres) that it would take forever to finish one so it seems like a soound investment for future applique!   I used it with a size 11 Jeana Kimball straw needle, very fine, and it flowed through the fabric with no knots or tangles.