The idea is to answer four questions. The easiest question comes first...
What am I working on?
This morning I did a bit of hand stitching to finish the Jubilee Rose wall hanging. I still need to sort out a rod and some cord to hang it with.
I am slowly building up a collection of free motion quilted panels so I can put together a FMQ sampler quilt. Here they are, arranged on the settee in no particular order. These are the pieces that I have shown in many of the recent weekend posts for the Free Motion Mavericks weekly link up.
And this is a sleeveless blouse that I am making, having cut up my old gardening shirt to make a pattern. It is slow progress because I thought the summer was about to end. Suddenly we are having really warm weather again, so perhaps if I made the effort I could wear it this year.
How does my work differ from others in this genre?
I have never owned an electric sewing machine, and apart from about ten minutes at school in the 1960s, I have never used one. Therefore I make everything using vintage sewing machines. My newest machine is a 1949 Singer 15K hand machine, which I am using regularly at the moment.
For free motion quilting I use my 1945 Singer 15K treadle, which features on miniature videos on blog posts and also on Youtube
When using attachments such as the ruffler or the buttonholer I like to use my 1936 201K treadle.
As for the fabrics I use, for clothes I like cotton poplin prints. For quilts, the more I do free motion quilting, the more I enjoy using the plain strong colours and shot cottons from Oakshott. I tend not to use prints that are up to the minute hot and trendy because they can date a piece of work to within five years or so.
Somehow I think that using vintage machines with carefully chosen fabric, the finished work can take on a timeless quality. At least, that's what I like to tell myself.
Why do I write/create what I do?
The obvious reason is that I love sewing and sewing machines. The children are grown up, I no longer have to go to work, and I can't think of a better way to fill my time.
Secondly, I want to show that old sewing machines are easy to clean up and use, so with my husband we set up a Youtube channel. My son said noboby would be interested. He was a student at the time and rather more taken with beer than his mother's hobbies. I stopped teasing him for saying that quite a while ago - my forecast is that in about five weeks we will reach a million views.
Just for fun, here is a video of my prettiest machine, with music specially composed by my son.
How does my writing/creative process work?
It is perhaps easier to list the things I lack or never use to highlight the limits within which I work:-
Using vintage machines with straight stitch only, I have no zigzag, no backstitching, no overlocking (or serging, as it is known to Americans).
I have no studio or design wall - I use the dining room table and clear things away afterwards when we need to eat. The settee doubles up as a design wall. I would use the floor, but it's too mucky.
The grandly named sewing room is in fact a corner of the dining room.
Lack of space means I have to use the quilt as you go method, doing all the stitching by machine.
I use no glue, spray cans (starch, glue etc), fabric markers, iron-on interfacing, non-woven interfacing, synthetic threads etc. etc - all the sort of products I see recommended in books and magazines, online and in shops, in short, everywhere. My reasoning is that if people could make fabulous clothes and quilts, say, in the 1930s, with just straight stitch machines and plenty of knowhow, then so can I.
Fortunately, I was well taught at school, learning French seams, felled seams, bound seams and other similar techniques in the late 1960s and early 1970s, so it is second nature for me leave no raw edges in sight.
Quilting is a more recent adventure...
Appliqué was a challenge, but I worked out how to do it using the sewing machine. First I make a paper stencil from the pattern, then with the machine I follow the lines of the stencil to stitch the material to be applied to the background material, and only at the end do I actually cut out the shape as I stitch around it by hand in blanket stitch. For want of a better name, I called this method Vintage Machine Appliqué, and if you click on the heading on the sidebar you will find posts showing how I add stitched decoration with the machine, and how I quilt around it.
My methods paid off when I entered my Queen's Diamond Jubilee Quilt into the quilt show at Malvern last year and gained my first ever ribbon.
I was delighted at being awarded a Judges' Merit.
Since then I have been working hard at free motion quilting, having taken the cue to get started about two and a half years ago from Leah Day's videos, and this wonderful lady on Youtube.
Leah gave the guidance for the hands, and this lady showed the foot action. I shall be forever grateful to Leah and the Laga Lady.
My hope now is that by blogging and posting the occasional video on Youtube I can pass on ideas, techniques and inspiration.
Thank you to everyone who has read this far and followed all the links!
Now I have to nominate a blogger to follow on...
Linda at Linda's Landscapes makes wonderful quilted landscapes using a great big scary modern machine, gallons of glue and lots of other things I am frightened of. She can even make bushes and trees out of thread with her sewing machine by sewing over nothing. At times I think she and I inhabit different dimensions, but then I see she uses an old electric machine that cost eight dollars (about a tenner in our money, I suppose) and runs up lovely QAYG quilts that she makes up as she goes along. She is a girl after my own heart and I love her work.
Linda will be doing her Round the World post in a fortnight's time.
Linking up with Marelize's blog Stitch by Stitch for Anything Goes Monday
and to Caroline's blog SewCanShe for Show Off Saturday
and Connie's blog Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday
and Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday