Thursday 25 October 2018

Needle and Thread workshop - Free Motion Quilting for the Terrified with Stuart Hillard

Last Sunday I took part in a workshop at Needle and Thread Workshops, which is in a lovely rural location just outside Lincoln.   The workshops are held in a converted barn and all materials, equipment and food are provided.  'Free Motion Quilting for the Terrified' was led by Stuart Hillard.  The photo below and biography are from the website.
"Stuart Hillard 
Expect lots of fun, expertise and super stitching know-how on any workshop with Stuart Hillard!  Stuart is a professional quilt designer, make and teacher with over 20 years' experience and hundreds of quilts under his belt.  More than fifty of his designs have been published in national and international magazines and he is a monthly columnist for Popular Patchwork Magazine, Essentials Magazine and Sew Magazine and published author.  A semi-finalist on the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee in 2013, global ambassador for Handi-Quilter, ambassador for Coats Crafts/Rowan/FreeSpirit Fabrics and regular guest on Create and Craft TV."
I watched Stuart on the Great British Sewing Bee and also on Create and Craft, so knew that he would be lovely, funny and patient...and he was.  He brought some of his beautiful quilts with him...
They are stunning...
You can't see the quilting very easily but it adds complementary patterns to the quilts.  This hexagon quilt is made from material designed by Stuart (I have some of this too, but it probably won't be made into a quilt!                                      
What were we aiming for?  Here is Stuart's sampler of nine quilting patterns, although there are more than nine ideas there.
We started with a ripple pattern, getting a feel for the machine and trying to control the stitch length.  This was something I struggled with and my stitch length was far from consistent; however, Stuart said it was all about practise.  This was only the second time I had ever tried free motion stitching, so I couldn't expect miracles (although a little part of me did!)  The cake was very welcome and was a yummy lemon one.  We stitched for about 15 minutes at a time, which Stuart said was the most you should stitch for without a little break.  He was full of hints and tips, recommendations for materials and needles.
Here's my ripple attempt.  The other ladies (and it was all ladies) in the group were all more experienced in quilt making than me and had all made quilts before.  
Then it was time to start the sampler.  Stuart showed us how to stitch the patterns first and then we went off to have a go.
   Gradually, the patterns started to build up.
Some were more tricky than others.         
This was the last pattern we attempted, called peacock feathers. Although I still struggled with a consistent stitch length, I really liked the end result.
 Here's the whole thing.  There are some unfinished sections where I ran out of time before we started the next pattern.  Homework, I think!
Here's a plan of the whole thing which I drew today, just to give an idea of what it should have looked like and also to remind me about the unfinished sections.
It was an intense day, but one I enjoyed.  The organiser, Sally, was very welcoming and Jan provided delicious refreshments and a lovely lunch (jacket potato, lots of salads, cheese, tuna followed by caramelised apple tart).
I have gained a lot of confidence about giving it a go and although I don't think I shall be quilting, I may well be able to use some of the patterns in free motion embroidery onto my felt.  I will keep an eye on the website and look out for a free motion embroidery workshop.  There are lots of ideas swirling around in my brain!  

Thursday 18 October 2018

New bag for work

At long last I am delighted to announce that I have finally finished my new bag for work!  It has been sitting in pieces for quite some time and last Sunday, when it rained pretty much all day, I got on with it.  I love the cats in glasses material and added the denim for the base as I felt it would be long lasting.
It has 'heat and bond' inside so that it keeps its shape. My previous bag just had some interfacing and over time, it just went all flollopy (technical term) and I got annoyed with it (it did last ten years though, so I can't really complain).  I hope this one lasts as long!
I love the cat fabric (Fryett's 'Cool Cats') so much that I have bought enough to make into a  pinafore - it will probably need to be lined, so it may take me a while...  There is a rather nice blue scandi patterned fabric I have also got my eye on for a pinafore too and I have denim waiting to be cut out.  I think I am going to be busy!
In other sewing news, I am going on a workshop this Sunday, led by Stuart Hillard, called 'Free Motion Quilting for the terrified', so will report back on that next week. I am really looking forward to it.

Sunday 14 October 2018

What a difference a day makes or October in the garden

It was such a warm day yesterday and has been a really wet miserable day today. I made the most of the weather yesterday and planted some daffodils in pots.  I also took the opportunity to have a look round the garden too. (The song 'What a difference a day makes' by Dinah Washington sprang into my head, hence the title of the post, even though the song is nothing to do with the weather, so here's a link to it on Youtube.)
 Autumn is certainly here, as can be seen by the Blueberries, here Northland...
...turning their fiery colours.  They have fruited really well this year and are such an easy to look after plant, as long as they are in ericaceous compost.  Mine don't always get rain water either - it depends how much is in the water butt.
A few last roses from 'Winchester Cathedral'.
 Buttery yellow leaves on Ginkgo Biloba Troll.
 Liriope muscari flowering away beautifully.
 My favourite grasses - Miscanthus Silberfeder.
 Cosmos Dazzler, doing what the name suggests.
 Aster (renamed something I can't spell, but having checked, it is Symphyotrichum, although it will always be an aster to me) Little Carlow, showing which flowers have been pollinated by turning red/brown - really helpful for the bees.
Aster (Symphyotrichum) novae-angliae September Ruby (I think).
Miscanthus Starlight - smaller but still beautifully formed.  I am really enjoying the autumn colours and hope they will stay for a few more weeks.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

My first visit to Hull (or Kingston-upon-Hull to give the proper name) and Hull Scrapstore

Humber Bridge (photo from Wikipedia)
We headed to Hull last Saturday to visit the Scrapstore (more about it here) as we had seen a visit on a blog (Life without Money - see the post here) and it had whetted our appetite.  It was the first time I had travelled over the Humber Bridge which seemed to go on for miles and was really impressive.  On a sunny day, I imagine the views are wonderful.  Sadly, as it was raining when we went, our views were limited.
The Scrapstore was an Aladdin's cave full of all sorts of bits and pieces from cardboard tubes to paper and card to a room full of fabric remnants and an art department.  While you can fill a basket for £5.00 in the main room, the art materials are individually and competitively priced.  Chris bought some more materials for puppet making.  I was quite impressed with myself as I was quite restrained.  Here's what I came home with:
 Some sequin waste, gummed brown paper (which I use for stretching paper prior to watercolouring) and three curtain samples which I think will make great bags or cushion covers.  The retro looking rose patterned one we both spotted in the video made by Ilona from Life Without Money and I was really pleased that it was still there and almost pounced on it!
While this photo looks rather underwhelming, it represents really good value for money. Hand made paper from India in A2 size (at least) for 10 pence a sheet.   Of course, we bought 10 sheets, well, why wouldn't we?
We had rather a detour on the way back as we went round by Goole, missing going back over the bridge (which I was a bit disappointed about).  Still, there's always another time.
There are Scrapstores around the UK - there may be one near you.