Sunday 30 June 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Chicken of the Woods

Otherwise known as sulphur polypore.  This monster was almost a foot across.  Taken on the 3rd June in a wood full of bluebells and wild garlic.  I saw it from some distance away and decided I had to get up close to make sure it really was a giant fungus and not a Sainsbury's carrier bag.

Welcome to the latest follower, Ann Brooks - thank you for joining!

Friday 28 June 2013

Overlapping Binding

Today's job was putting the binding on a miniature quilt.  If the binding has a clean selvage edge on at least one end then there is no need to sew the strips together, they can be overlapped instead. The selvage on the first picture is a bit irregular, but this end will be hidden.

The first strip of binding is sewn on all but for the last three eighths of an inch or so.

The the second strip is put in place ready to sew, with the neat selvage edge lapped underneath the first strip.  The hair grip is holding the second strip steady,

... so it is easy to stitch straight over the overlap.

When the binding is folded over to the other side, it is sewn in the opposite direction, so the second strip is now at the top of the picture.  The first strip is folded underneath the second strip.

As the machine feeds the work through, the overlap has a tendency to pull out of place, so an unpicker is handy for poking the underneath layer back down and holding it flat.

Once the foot has the binding properly held down there is time to get the unpicker out of the way before it reaches the needle.

Here it is, finished.  The overlap is fairly inconspicuous.

Welcome to two new followers today, Ann Bassett and Joe Zuchowicz - thank you for joining!

Thursday 27 June 2013

A Doily, an Anniversary and an Encounter

This is the latest item I have completed for the Doll Quilters Monthly swap - my partner Brittoni in New York State has just received it.  The theme for May was to make a quilt any shape but square or rectangular.  That had me flummoxed for a bit, until I decided to make a free motion quilted doily

Starting with a tiny circle at the centre, I kept on going outwards, making it up as I went along.  It started with a flower shape with radiating leaf shapes around it.  Then I changed the top thread for a lighter colour, and went round a few times doing flame shapes, followed by spirals.  

Around the edge I put binding in a contrasting shade, pink ric rac using the braiding foot and added buttons and beads.

When a vase is put in the middle you can see the darker quilting thread peeping out.

And because today is the first anniversary of the blog, here are the flowers, picked on a quick raid on the garden last month.

Finally, the encounter.  I was in Bath this morning, on my way to my favourite café there, and heard singing.  Nothing unusual, Bath is a buskers' haven.  But this was two unaccompanied, unamplified voices singing folk songs in harmony.  It was an absolute delight meeting Will and Ed, who walk around Britain singing on their way.  Yes, really.  Visit their website, where you can hear them sing.  I had a request for them, but they didn't know it - a new song might be added to their repertoire if I'm lucky, in which case I will stand them a few jars next time they are in Bath.

Update - 28th June
Well I didn't tell you yesterday, but I sang a quick song for Will and Ed, and ended up being recorded, and today it is on their website with other soundtracks.  Thanks for the lovely picture of the swans and cygnets, lads!
My top favourite song is The Good Old Way, which you will find if you click on the last track, Little Song in St. Rumwold's on the Marsh - the player will keep on going straight into it.  I love it, it is sung with real feeling!

This post is being linked to Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday, so there will be links to lots of other free motion projects... 
and also to My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday for quilting and other needlework projects. .

Wednesday 26 June 2013

A Packet of Needles

This rather nice packet of needles was in a second hand shop.  The price is in old money, so it is from 1971 or earlier,

and from the date on the back of the packet, 1964 or later.

One of these days I might finally understand needle sizes.  I have a tendency to go blank at the sight of numbers.  All my needles end up mixed up in the tin, so if it looks pretty fat I will use it with a thick thread, and if it looks thin, with a fine thread.  If it hurts when I jab it into my fingertip, it's sharp, if it doesn't, it isn't.  Not the technical approach, I know, but I've got away with it so far.

This page of advice all about needles on Helen Howes's website is very interesting, but I'm just glad I haven't got to sit a written test on it.  I'll just bash through the practical and hope for the best.

Monday 24 June 2013

Tiles in the Porch

These beautiful tiles are at Lily's house, a Victorian terraced house which still has the original tiles in the porch.

The glazed wall tiles are such an unusual colour combination - olive green alternating with a pinky beige.

The floor also has its original tiles.  

The tiles are still going strong after over a century of use.  The floor is tiled in the same pattern over the entire hall, right back to the kitchen door.

Hardly surprising, then, that Lily is fascinated by quilts!

Sunday 23 June 2013

A Pretty Picture for Sunday - Candlelit Angel

This beautiful stone angel is in the church of St. John the Evangelist in Bath.  The warm flickering candlelight seemed to bring it alive.

Friday 21 June 2013

Free Motion Experiment - Making it up as I go along

After last week's experiment following the pattern on a printed fabric, I decided that I would try making up a pattern on a plain colour as I went along.  The leaf and flower shapes in the printed fabric had given me a few ideas.

This is what I have done today - three wavy lines which became the central stems of some fanciful leaves and flowers.

These are my favourites.  The first flower I did was to cover a mistake with a leaf, but I liked it so I did some more.

I have come to the conclusion that this is the best approach to free motion quilting for me.  If I have a plan, it doesn't work.  If I just start sewing and see what turns out, the results are better.

Linking up again to Leah Day's blog for Free Motion Friday.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Lily and Her Quilt

Here is Lily.  You might remember reading about her before - coming to the sewing café to make dresses and also helping me to make a doll quilt.

Last December Lily had her tenth birthday, and I gave her a bundle of fat quarters.  Being a true star quilter in the making, she was in no rush and stashed them away while she thought about what she was going to do with them.  She is also lucky enough to have a lovely neighbour, Sandra, who is a keen quilter, so Lily often diasappears next door for sewing sessions.  With Sandra she worked out this pattern, using the fat quarters and a few other scraps to make the blocks.  Then they took a shopping trip, and Lily chose the strong fuchsia pink for the sashing.

And look at the result - isn't it fabulous!  No wonder Lily is looking so proud, standing on the coffee table and peeping over the top at me.  Just think how excited she will be once it is quilted and bound.

Welcome to the latest follower, Caralynne Viljoen - thank you for joining!  

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Snapping Thread on the Singer 15K

When I first put the Singer 15K hand machine to serious use I found there was a problem with the thread occasionally breaking.  It took me a while to fathom out what was going on.  The thread was getting itself looped over the take up lever, pulling tight and snapping.

The next question was why was this happening with this machine, when I had never had the same problem with the 15K treadle.  The answer lay with the thread.  I have been using a cotton 50, just about the only thickness you can easily get these days, and there is too much twist to it. When you pull it off the reel, often it does not lie flat, but it has a curl to it.  When the take up lever goes down on the 15K it is right next to the tension discs, sometimes the slack thread twists, and it ends up looped over the lever.  This is especially likely to happen when you are going slowly, or doing work that entails lots of stops and starts, just the type of work best done on a hand machine rather than a treadle.

With the treadle I most usually do quilting, especially free motion work, which is faster and calls for thicker thread.  I have never had the thread snapping for this reason with the treadle.

The thread I use for quilting is Gutermann Sulky cotton 30.  It doesn't twist itself into trouble in the same way as the cotton 50.  Neither does the old fashioned Sylko 40, which I snaffle up in a trice when I see it in charity shops.

I have had to get myself into the habit of taking a quick look at the take up lever whenever I have to start sewing again after having to stop.  Irritating, but necessary.

What I am most pleased about, however, is that I can declare the machine innocent.  I blame the thread entirely.

Monday 17 June 2013

Linen Frocks Made to Measure

This advert is in my copy of The Needlewoman of May 1937, next to the picture of Mrs. Simpson in her corsets.  I love the style of dresses in the late 1930s and find it frustrating that the dress materials on offer today haven't got the lovely feel and drape of the old fashioned crepes.

Evidently I was born too late.  Not only was there a huge range of Irish linens available in the 1930s, but also this company had a dressmaking service.  I rather like the dress on the left, and am tempted to post the coupon asking for the Illustrated Frock Leaflet showing the choice of Ten New Paris Styles.

I think I'll start with the cheap option of a flowered dress print at elevenpence a yard, then creep slowly up the scale for the next dress and try the uncrushable crepe at one and a halfpenny.  It would have to be a very special occasion for me to fork out three shillings a yard for the "Never-Fade" Irish linen or the fadeless dress poplin.

I have been enjoying following Bonnie Hunter's adventures in Ireland.  If you haven't seen it already, you might be interested in her blog post today about her visit to the Irish Linen Centre and Museum in Lisburn. 

Sunday 16 June 2013

Friday 14 June 2013

Treadling a Free Motion Experiment

I have a few strips of this material left over from the backing of the houses quilt, the top of which I made on the Serata treadle.

The printed design is ideal for using as a guide to devise some interesting free motion patterns - lots of flowers and ferns.  The top thread doesn't show up much, especially because I used a variegated thread that blends in well.

On the back, however, the quilting looks rather interesting.  This is the back of the section shown in the first picture.  The fern ended up looking quite graceful.

These flowers are all crammed together in a way I don't think I could have sorted out if I hadn't been following the print.

Over a large area the overall effect really works.

I really wish I could make this type of pattern up on plain material as I went along - perhaps one day I will.  Also, it's a shame I really don't like the shade of green.  It reminds me of our PE knickers at primary school.  Still, you can't be too fussy with practice pieces.  The 15K treadle is performing wonderfully, so I can't complain.

Linking up again to Free Motion Friday at Leah Day's blog so you can find lots more projects to look at.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

German Bobbin Winders - No. 4 - Naumann Vibrating Shuttle

Using the bobbin winder on the Naumann Vibrating Shuttle is refreshingly simple.

First, take the thread though the wire hook and little tension discs to the right of the spool pin.

Then take it down to the bobbin winder, trap the thread with the end of the bobbin at the right hand side, and pass the thread through the hole at the top of the little bar on the winder.

There is a lever at the bottom of the bobbin winder.  Push the lever up, and the winder will engage into position against the balance wheel.

Now fill the bobbin.

To disengage the bobbin winder, push down gently on the metal plate that rests against the bobbin. This is an automatic release mechanism, which will automatically release the winder once the bobbin is full, so there is no chance of overfilling a bobbin.

The bobbin can now be taken out.  Job done!

Monday 10 June 2013

Beaded Waistcoat at the American Museum

Another of the fantastic exhibits at the American Museum.  The label stated that this was made in the late 19th century in the Great Lakes area; the beads are European, probably imported from Venice, and the pattern is derived from the stylised embroidery designs taught by French Canadian nuns to local girls.

The beads are tiny and sewn on closely together to form a solid block of colour.

I got as close as I could to the glass case so I could see all the wonderful detail.

I also wondered who would have worn such an item.

Welcome to the latest follower, Anna Hemsworth - thank you for joining!

Friday 7 June 2013

Teapots Quilt - A Work in (Very Slow) Progress

This is a project I have neglected - I haven't touched it since April last year because I started the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Quilt, which I was determined to have finished before the end of the jubilee year.  This was my first bit of free motion quilting for a proper quilt.  Each block has a cotton fabric with gold detail for the teapot, a pretty print for the tablecloth, and a plain neutral for the background. This is the same appliqué that I used for the tea cosy that I made a few weeks ago.

The tablecloths are quilted with straight line diagonals, done on the 1927 Singer 99K hand machine, and the backgrounds are free motion quilted with the 1945 Singer 15K treadle.  When I got the blocks out today I was toying with the idea of doing a different free motion pattern on the blocks I have yet to quilt.  Then I decided that I would prefer a bit of consistency, so I will probably quilt the remaining blocks in the same way.  I realised that I have a load of material in a box that will be ideal for practising other patterns on.

Most of the pots have the handle on the right, which looks more natural to me because I am right handed, but I have a few with the handle on the left so left handers too can feel the urge to grab the pot and start pouring.  I absolutely love the colours and the Tudor roses on this teapot.

On this teapot the shades of pink and orange with grey are exquisite.

It's time I started to work on this quilt again...

This post is being linked up Free Motion Friday on Leah Day's blog so you can visit lots of interesting blogs with some fantastic projects on show.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Shortening a Treadle Belt

I tried to stop the treadle belt slipping, but I still couldn't get up to full speed on my Singer 201K.  It ran well for a while, then slowly but surely, the belt started slipping again. 

The problem has now been solved.  My bro in law has been staying with us and he fixed it in about five minutes.  He had a pair of pliers ready to open the metal staple that joins the belt, so he could cut the belt down by about half an inch.  He had the awl ready to make a new hole in the leather. My contribution to the whole operation was to put the clothes pegs over the belt to stop it dropping through underneath as soon as it was cut.  Then I disappeared out of the house and left him to it. When I came home later the belt was fixed and turning the machine beautifully.  No more slipping!


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