Posts Tagged ‘quilting’

Finally finished, thanks to all your help, advice and ideas. I settled on a frame of brick fabric over an interfacing core to finish off the canvaswork bricks and a touch of Inktense to intensify the colours. It’s tacked in place here…


…and slip stitched in place here.


A closure of some grosgrain ribbon printed with maple leaves and a vintage snap was the final finishing touch, and I can now proudly present the Tattershall Castle Memory Journal.



Unlike the Anderby Creek Journal this one is folded as a triptych with the bollock purse in the middle.


And the reverse. The ribbon is stitched to the two folds and passes under the micro quilt which is press studded in place.


I’m delighted to have finished it and am ready to move onto the third in the series – the Kew Gardens Chihuly Exhibition memory journal. I just have to find the black hole that my evenweave fabric has disappeared into first…

I also had fun making a Fathers’ Day card for a friend’s dad. I really object to the tired old football, beer, cars tropes that get trotted out every year, especially as neither my dad nor my husband are into any of those and neither is my friend’s dad. But he does love the Lake District, so I gathered some scraps of hand dyed fabric and started to experiment.


A little bit of ironing later and I had this:


It was a good way of showcasing the different textures as well as the variations in colour and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.


It went down very well apparently, so another satisfied customer!

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A quick finish to complete all the stitching on the bricks.


Then I sandwiched it together with a scrap of batting and another bit of the crackly fabric I used under the bricks before machine stitching round the bricks to quilt it together.

Next stage, trimming it to fit in the accordion book so I could bind it. It ended up just 8cm by 9cm (about 3″ by 3.5″!!) so the binding was slightly fiddly.


I love that citrus bright fabric for the binding!


I always use a fantastic tutorial I found on the internet several years ago for binding my quilts. Even given the tiny dimensions of this one, it still worked beautifully with folded mitres which naturally fall into place at the front…


…and some folding to be done to neaten it off at the back.


Then a nice little hand stitching job outside in the sun.


Finished with a tiny quilt label. I think I could be excused for not embroidering this one!


One completed micro quilt and four out of the six pieces for the Tattershall memory journal finished. The next piece, which I’m designing now, will actually be a departure from the bricks!

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The Anderby Creek Accordion Journal is making slow but steady progress.


I found some lovely pebble fabric which was exactly the right scale and have used that for the cover:


And also hand quilted with my favourite sparkly Madeira thread around the pebbles for one of the pieces inside.


Inspired by the concrete cloud shapes at the Cloud Bar, I’ve started to add split stitch clouds to some indigo dyed fabric…


…which will then be overlaid by a felt cloud shape…


…based on some of my photos of the Cloud Bar.



The blackwork version of the North Sea Observatory has only had a few more stitches added to it as I try to work out patterns, but the book is slowly filling up.



I really do need to get it finished before the year is up!

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I’ve never been a quilter for several reasons – use of a sewing machine, length of the project, lack of small fiddly hand embroidery etc. But I do love looking at other people’s quilts and I adore beautiful fabric.

It was while visiting my son in London two years ago that I discovered an amazing quilting shop in East Molesley, just across the road from Hampton Court Palace, and I fell in love with a little charm pack of oriental themed squares in black, white and grey with touches of red. I experimented using them for a few potential layouts but they finally disappeared into the cupboard, appearing occasionally to be admired. That is until I came back from holiday at the end of August and decided that I was going to make them into a lap quilt for my middle one who is going away very shortly to Bangor University to study Archaeology.

My 90yr old Frister and Rossman was pressed into service and using black silk dupion for the alternating squares, I began to piece my first ever quilt top.

Strips first.


And then I sewed them into a rectangle for the quilt top.


I was determined to use fabric I already had for the backing and the binding, which for the back meant that I had to insert a strip of kimono fabric scraps into the black silk skirt gore I was using to make it large enough.


Then I sandwiched the front, back and the batting together and the Frister and Rossman rose happily to the occasion, stitching through thick layers of cotton, batting and silk to quilt the top. I went for a very simple option – just following the line of the fabric pieces to create a grid effect on the back.

DSCN2196.JPGNext was binding the quilt and as this is something I’ve never done before I went to YouTube and thanks to a very clear tutorial managed to add some cotton kimono fabric for the binding. The Frister and Rossman whirred gently and made short work of four layers of cotton/silk and the batting. I love that machine so much!


The tutorial actually showed how to do the binding with a continuous piece but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough fabric to join all the pieces so I did each edge separately and then cobbled some sort of hand stitched mitre at the front…

DSCN2205.JPG…and something neat but not a mitre on the back when I hand stitched the binding to the reverse.

So pleased with the lovely neat finish.


DSCN2210.JPGFinally a label embroidered in floss silk to add to the back.


Unfortunately I forgot to photograph it once I’d appliqued it onto the back though! And the time taken for this project? Five days. Now to be fair, apart from cooking, washing and shopping I didn’t do much else for five days but it’s been lovely to see this project work up so quickly and turn out so well. I have a feeling it won’t be my last quilt.

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I recently started a Writer’s Circle at SLTC, and the focus of the last meeting was monologues. I love memories and anecdotes; precious fragments of lives, and one of the things that interests me most about stitching is how memories can become part of the stitched work. Perhaps through memories associated with the fabrics used, perhaps more actively through stitching as journaling, but most fascinating of all, through the memories, experiences and emotions that the person was undergoing when they stitched it. For me these so often end up in the piece as a record, invisible to everyone but me, of where I was, physically and emotionally when I set those stitches.

At the Writers’ Circle we write for a blessed uninterrupted hour. This is how I explored some of my thoughts about stitching and memory.

The Quilt

The speaker is an elderly woman in a care home somewhere in the American Midwest. She is talking to a visitor who has admired the patchwork quilt covering her knees.

 Thank you. That’s real nice of you. Yeah, I guess I am surprised. It’s been a part of my life for so long I’ve never really thought about it like that. It’s just a quilt. It’s soft, it keeps you warm; it…it…it ain’t anything special. Not like these fancy quilts people make nowadays. Goodness knows how they get ‘em all pieced and quilted so neat and fine and those fancy fabrics they use; silks and stuff. There’s only one piece of silk in this whole quilt. Course, I ain’t sure if it’s silk exactly. It’s a scrap my Grandma gave me. She said it came from the bodice of her grandma’s wedding dress. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s a pretty story. It’s that piece just there; feels soft, don’t it?

 I pieced that block through a real bad snowstorm we had one winter. Lasted two whole days and knocked all the power out from here to Fort Wayne. Frank and the boys shovelled a path to the barn, dug out all the old lamps of his mother’s and that’s all the light we had for weeks. Don’t look too close – that’s why the stitching ain’t too even. Lily was just a mite then. I used to rock her off to sleep in the old cradle and then I’d sit and sew with the mantle of that old Tilly lamp hissing away like a kettle on the stove and that heavy sort of quiet you get when the snow’s deep and thick, just thinking and stitching.

 That’s some of Lily’s first summer dress right there. Yeah, that pretty blue cotton with the flower sprays; came from Mason’s closing down sale in the spring of ’49. I bought a bunch of stuff that day. We’d not been married long and money was real tight but I knew it’d all come in at some point. Mason’s? It became a drug store for a while after old Mr Mason sold up and then the whole area got pretty run down. Course, it ain’t there now, it was on one of those blocks they flattened in the Seventies when they built the High School.

 That was from Mason’s too. I had a sun dress in that green with the flowers and cherries. It was so pretty and comfortable. Wore it for years and then when I put on weight I cut it down to make pinafores for Lily and Sylvia. That was from a shirt I made for Frank one fall. Remember I just had enough to make one for Kit too; brushed plaid cotton. I had such a bother to match the pattern – I reckon there was more cussing in those two shirts than in anything else I ever made – but they came out a treat. You know, I can see them two boys now, heading down the track to the creek with their denim pants tucked into their boots and their matching shirts and Kit’s little blonde head bobbing up and down by Frank’s waist. He was so proud to be going fishing just like his Daddy.

 Course, that was when Jack was too small to go with them. He’d stand by the kitchen door, sobbing and hollering in an almighty temper and then he’d start slamming and kicking the door till sometimes I’d no choice but to take the back of my hand to him. He always was the odd one. But there’s so much of him in this quilt. Not the material: I think that might be from one of his baby shirts and that’s definitely from a bowtie I made him when he was in High School and nutty on the Sanderson girl, but…no, not an awful lot. Not compared to the others, I mean. He’s there in other ways. In that block mostly. I was stitching on it the evening he came home to tell us he’d enlisted. Frank was a mild-mannered man but he’d seen enough in Europe in the last war and he said he weren’t having no son of his jauntering half way round the world and getting himself killed for some bunch of foreigners who couldn’t even run their country properly.

 And then they started shouting. I knew it’d do no good me saying anything when those two had their danders up like that so I just sat tight and sewed. Jack said some awful things about Frank being unpatriotic and un-American and then he called his father a ‘dammed Commie’ and slammed out of the house. Frank never forgot that, you know. It weren’t true but it hurt him more than anything and of course, they never had the chance to say sorry, either of them. Sometimes I wish I’d spoken up but that’s not what you did in those days. I just sat tight and sewed and it’s like I sewed every word into that block and it’s still there.

 Goodness! I don’t know what’s gotten into me, rattling on like this; you must be bored silly. After all, it’s nothing special. It’s just an old quilt.

Copyright: Alex Hall January 2012

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