Monday 29 April 2013

Making Rouleau Straps - The Video

After putting up the illustrations showing how to do rouleau straps, I decided I needed to try out the method.  It is wonderfully easy.  Sewing alongside the cord keeps the stitching straight and the width of the strap even.

You only need to do three or four stitches through the cord at the end to keep it secure.  The trickiest part is turning the end inside out to start pulling it through.  I was using cotton poplin, but it would have been easier with a finer material, for instance a cotton lawn.

The latest Youtube video went up last night.  It wasn't a particularly easy one to make - making my first ever rouleau straps kneeling on the floor, with the sewing machine on a low table and the camera on a low tripod in front of me so I had to reach round from either side of it and do my best not to knock the tripod.  I suffer for my art.

The reservation I have with these straps is that they might not take too much strain.  This is why I showed two ways of pulling the strap the right way round.  If the cord is left uncut you can leave it inside so you can have a reinforced strap.  You would just have to make sure that if you are using cotton, both the fabric and the cord are pre-washed so they don't shrink at different rates once they are first washed after the work is finished.

Welcome to Susan Owenby, the latest follower.  Thank you for joining!

Sunday 28 April 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Lesser Black-Backed Gull

He was strutting along the pavement in Bath as if he owned the place.  Well, he does.  He's Lord of the Bins.

Note for Sue Deere - corner of South Parade and Duke Street.  Legs in the background are the crowd coming out of last week's match against Leicester. 

Saturday 27 April 2013

The Mystery Buttonholer

Here it is with its clothes back on.

It came in a plastic box (only slightly cracked),

along with all the extra bits and pieces.

I love these little half cams.

But it is still a bit of a mystery.  There is no clue as to who manufactured it or where.  I got in touch with Helen Howes because she has a similar buttonholer on her website - it's the one in the brown tin, which looks like an earlier version of mine.  She very kindly sent me a copy of the instructions. These confirmed what I suspected - no details of the manufacturer there either, otherwise Helen would have said who made it in the description of the item.  Also I was pleased to see that I had been getting everything right when I had been trying it out the night before.

Now I have to do some serious practising on some scrap material.  I haven't tried it out again since cleaning and oiling it.  Before I cleaned it the bight adjustment lever made no difference whatever position it was in, even though when I had the cover off I could see it was moving freely.  It all remains to be seen...

Friday 26 April 2013

Free Motion Quilted Bedspread - Getting There...

Not a brilliant picture, I know.  I slung the quilt over our bed and had to stand on the edge of the bed and hold the camera up to the ceiling and aim.

Anyway, this is the progress so far.  Twelve blocks are now all joined up, and it's not quite big enough, so I am going to have to quilt a few more pieces and add a wide border all round.  I could be lazy and just bind it now, but there's nothing worse than a bed cover that lets in the draught at the sides.

Here's the back.  Definitely not the pretty side, but the quilting shows up better.  Not perfect quilting, but my daughter is the last person to care and she's looking forward to it. 

Linking up again today with Leah Day's Free motion Quilting blog.  I hope you enjoy visiting the other blogs to see what people are up to!

Thursday 25 April 2013

Today's Mystery Attachment

It looks like a mousetrap with inbuilt instruments of torture - a miniature rack perhaps.

I spent yesterday evening working out how to use it.  It is from a charity shop, complete in its box with all the necessary parts, but no instructions.  I had to take off its plastic cover and see what was going on inside because it wasn't doing what it was supposed to.  The insides were gummed up with ancient oil.

It has spent the night with the sticky end in a jar of paraffin (our Transatlantic Friends call it kerosene).

The paraffin is a lovely shade of pink.

This morning I have cleaned off the residue, which was softened to a slimy consistency, and washed out the excess paraffin with washing up liquid and hot water.  After that it had a good rinse in clean water, a quick go with the hair drier, and now it is sitting on a radiator to dry it out thoroughly.

Next week I will be trying it out properly.  (Anything to put off all that hand sewing).

What is it?  

Big fat clue - my husband's first words to me today were "Good morning Mrs. Hutton-Bowler."

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Boring Picture, Tedious Sewing, Exciting News

Well it's not that boring, it's rather pretty - a close-up of the material I am using to make a hanging strip.  I bought yards of this stuff, a nice fresh furnishing cotton, in a sale a couple of years ago.  It is ideal for the hanging strip that I have to sew to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Quilt.  I am not looking forward to all that hand sewing.  Dull as ditch water. 

What I am looking forward to is a nice drive to Worcestershire on 13th May to deliver the quilt to the Three Counties Showground for the Malvern Quilt Show.  I've never entered a quilt in a show before. It's a bit scary really.

Monday 22 April 2013

Nineteenth Century Star Quilt in the American Museum

This pretty eight-pointed star is a detail from a quilt made by a lady called Mary A. Smith in Maine in the 19th century.  The quilt is made up of lots of these little stars and the colours and overall effect are totally charming.  It is impossible for visitors to get good photos of the entire quilts because of the reflections, so I took pictures of details.

This design is one that is probably best sewn by hand, so I am more than happy to admire the work without feeling compelled to make one myself.  I have great respect for the needlewomen who made these astonishing quilts.  

The American Museum has such an interesting collection, so you can expect to see some more photos over the coming weeks.

Sunday 21 April 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Knapweed

Another of the flowers in a little meadow on the edge of the woods on a hill in Poland.

Saturday 20 April 2013

1949 Singer 15K Hand Machine

This is the machine I am using at the moment to assemble the quilted blocks shown in yesterday's post.  It is the Singer 15K that I cleaned up a little while ago.

The metal parts on the outside of the machine are in wonderful condition, but the inside was pretty mucky.

The rear inspection plate gave a nice self-portrait photo opportunity.

The machine is a lovely smooth runner.  We had a very brief contretemps at the beginning, but that's all behind us now.

Welcome to Ginger B, the latest follower.  Thank you for joining!

Friday 19 April 2013

Assembling the Quilted Panels

Last month I pulled lots of pretty fat quarters out of the cupboard for some free motion quilting practice on the treadle.

Some panels went better than others.  This is the last one that I did and I was pleased that I managed it all in one line.

All the panels have now been cut into rectangles, then four different rectangles made into one larger panel.  Slowly I am joining all the panels with strips, and gradually putting the quilt together.  

Even the joining strips are from fat quarters.

Much as I hate patchwork prints, this one looks perfect used as a joining strip.

This quilted bedspread is going to look thoroughly girly.

And because it's Friday, it's time to link up again with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Blog

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Making a Rouleau Strap

Update 29th April - I've tried this method out.  It is easy, and I've made a video which you can find on today's post.

I hardly ever watch television, except for the Great British Bake-Off, and now I'm following the Great British Sewing Bee - whether the link will let people abroad watch the programmes, I don't know, but in any event BBC iPlayer only keeps the episodes of a series online for about a week after the last instalment, which is next Tuesday.

Last night I settled down to watch the four remaining contestants tackle a set task - a child's dress with a shirred bodice and rouleau straps.  I'm not convinced rouleau straps are particularly practical on a child's dress.  Because they are cut on the bias they stretch, and a single line of straight stitch will get pulled.  Sooner or later the thread will snap.  I am totally in agreement with Sandra who disobeyed the rules and made the dress with flat straps.

What I find slightly frustrating about the programme is that it shies away from showing the techniques involved.  They didn't show how the contestants did their rouleau straps, there was just passing mention of pulling the tube inside out with a hook.  This makes viewers think they will need special equipment if they want to try it at home.  They don't.

I've never actually made rouleau straps, but if I ever need to, I will follow these instructions, which show how to make a rouleau and use it for button loops.  Ingenious and simple.

Here is the source of the diagrams, a beautiful little book dating from 1928.

Monday 15 April 2013

Roast Lamb for Easter Dinner

Sometimes I am shocked by what I read on the internet - for instance a recent survey that found that 40% of Americans have never tasted lamb.  There are over 30 million sheep in this country, whereas in the USA there are a mere 6 or 7 million.  All I can say is that all those poor Americans are deprived of the most delicious meat of them all.

The French have cuisine.  The English have cooking.  So here goes...

Here is my foolproof method for keeping a joint moist when roasting it.  This way you get the best of both worlds - a nice tasty crunchy top, and soft moist meat underneath swimming in its own juices. You can thicken the sauce to make gravy, but I don't bother.

Here are the vegetables that will be underneath the joint in the oven - a sliced onion, celeriac cut into cubes, and two large cloves of garlic.  I like to use onion or leek combined with a root vegetable. Freshly picked from the garden are two or three bay leaves and a couple of sprigs of rosemary.  You will also need vegetable oil, white wine and salt and pepper.  

The garlic is on the right.  I just slice it thinly.  I've never been converted to garlic crushers.

The meat tin has two layers of foil to line it.  The splodge of vegetable oil is to prevent the vegetables from sticking during cooking.

All the chopped vegetables go into the foil, with the bay leaves and plenty of salt and pepper.  I have taken the rosemary off the woody stalks.

The joint of lamb sits on top of the vegetables.  This is a joint of boned leg.  I have sprinkled pepper and salt on top.

Next, scrunch the foil around the sides to cover the meat, but leave the fat on top exposed. 
Be careful not to puncture or split the foil.

Now pour white wine down into the foil.  I never measure it, but about a couple of glasses' worth will do.

This is how the joint will look when cooked, with the roast parts on top looking nice and browned and the underneath totally succulent.

It was served up with roast spuds with chunks of roast swede chucked in.  No, they weren't burnt, just well cooked.  I'm not a food stylist, I just cook and eat the stuff.

And carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.

Finally, the meat is cut into thick slices.

I'm looking forward to next Easter already.

Sunday 14 April 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - White Campion

Taken last August in Poland.  It's time I took some more pictures here, but the weather has been rubbish.

Saturday 13 April 2013

A Flock of Sheep from Lynn in Tennessee

Here is the beautiful quilt that arrived here on Thursday afternoon made by Lynn in Tennessee - my March partner in the Doll Quilters Monthly swap - a beautiful star with a verse from the Book of Proverbs in the middle, surrounded by sheep.

Lynn has stitched the verse so neatly.

Each little sheep is grazing amongst tiny little embroidered flowers.

And a lovely touch is the black sheep of the flock on the back on the label.

Lynn and I agreed that we would no do crocodiles, alligators or any reptiles or anything creepy.
However, neither of us knew what the other was doing.  Discovering that we had both done sheep just added so much to the fun.

Thank you Lynn, I absolutely love it!  You have been a wonderful partner.

Just to add the overall sheepiness of it all, I finished the machine stitching on the lamb quilt for Lynn on Easter Sunday when I had a joint of lamb roasting in the oven...

On Monday vegetarians and those of a sentimental disposition can have a day off because I will be showing you my method of roasting lamb.  I can't look at a lamb without imagining him on a plate.

Welcome to Bluenines, the latest follower.  Thank you for joining!

Friday 12 April 2013

Doll Quilt - Lamb in an English Meadow

The theme for the April swap on Doll Quilters Monthly was animals, so here is the lamb I made for Lynn.  In real life the quilt is rectangular, but my design wall is the clothes rack with a length of curtain lining slung over it, so getting things flat just doesn't happen.

Some of you may remember the picture of stray sheep that I posted a few weeks ago.  I used the lamb as my model because he had posed so nicely.  His ears just needed to be perked up a bit and his tail brought into view.

My first go at stitching his eyes had to be unpicked.  Totally my own fault, because I was trying to do it from memory rather than looking at the photo.  I wanted to make sure the eyes were in the right place, way over to the side of the head, so he looked like a real lamb rather than a cartoon character with eyes like a child's.

For the background I did free motion quilting on the Singer 15K treadle.  The tall zigzags were to give the impression of grass.  For the border I did my favourite meandering pattern, and it blends into the border fabric.

For the backing I used up the last of the vintage Laura Ashley, which turned out to be enough to back three doll quilts.

Lynn received this quilt on Wednesday, and the next day her quilt to me landed in our porch.  It's a beauty!  Just wait till you see it tomorrow...

This post is being linked up to Leah Day's blogspot so you can visit other blogs featuring free motion quilting, and also to TGIFF! at Quilt Matters blogspot so you can admire lots of other finished projects.

Also linking up with Val's Quilting Studio for Tuesday Archives 

Welcome to the latest follower, La Magnifique.  Thank you for joining!

Thursday 11 April 2013

A Wolf Cub in Lamb's Clothing

What's all this about?

This picture is specially for Lynn, my swap partner in Tennessee, who has just received a little quilt from me.  Sometimes you just have to unpick a few stitches and do it again.  How did I manage to make a sweet little lamb look so evil?

All will be revealed tomorrow...

And thank you Lynn for joining as a follower!

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Tuesday's Top Tip - The Ideal Use for a Wooden Pencil Case

This rather smart wooden pencil case was sitting in a charity shop waiting for me.

It now has a new lease of life as a bobbin box.

It is gradually being filled up with bobbins full of quilting thread in different colours.  Very handy. 


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