I decided on a very simple design, with the aid of about.com and drew the design out on squared paper. I then set about making up the blocks - the central one first and then I made the four panel strips in long lengths and cut them to size to fit around the central panel. It soon came back to me that sewing straight lines in fabric is a bit of a nightmare. As soon as you are a few centimetres in it all starts to drift due to the slight stretchiness of fabric! At this stage it was lack of practice as much as anything, but I worked out that every so often you can bring the piece of work back to square by trimming with the ruler and rotary cutter - brilliant! The major drawback of doing that however, is that you end up with a smaller piece than you intended, and this can throw the whole design out! I knew at this stage that I would have to make many many pieces in order to improve - hence just about everyone I know got a patchwork something for Christmas!
A couple of borders later and I was ready to make the sandwich of front/wadding/back. Another difficulty here was the sewing of many layers - the feed dogs shunt the bottom-most layer through, but the top layer tends to fall behind and you end up with a skewed piece. I had read about walking feet and realised that this was going to be an essential, so I ordered one of these . It didn't arrive in time for this project though, so the finished article is a little quirky - which doesn't show when it is on the basket - phew!
At last baby Matilda arrived on the 13th January, and was soon making full use of the quilt!
It is horrid outside - cold and windy - just the time for a spot of baking. I wanted to make something for a friend and low fat is the order of the day. I have bananas and dates in plenty, so I searched the internet and came up with this.
One of the loaves is decidedly crazy - I think I can see the image of ET in it, or an elephant, or a cat. I wonder what it tastes like. My friend is going to get the normal looking one.
I have found another of the Soft Geometry collection - a cushion cover. The edge is a dark navy blue although it looks black in the photo. I seem to have had a zigzag theme going on.
Living in France has its drawbacks - really good fabric shops are few and far between, and when you do find one that stocks patchwork-suitable cotton fabric, it is usually very expensive. Luckily we live in the internet age and I soon found some wonderful online fabric sellers - fabricrehab (brilliant name, although I thought that if you were in rehab, you weren't allowed access to your drug of choice ….) and cottonpatch . They both have an amazing range of fabrics and deliver to France at a reasonable cost.
I also ordered some fabric from a french online seller - who took my money and then promptly disappeared from view! Fortunately I had paid by Paypal, and after reporting them and giving evidence of my many unanswered emails to the company in question, my money was refunded.
My biggest and best discovery though, was made when I was visiting my daughter Kate, who recently moved to Rochester. It is the shop called Hometown (there is a bit of information about the shop here). It is the most exquisite experience to go in an wander around the fabulously stocked shelves. Colour is paramount - all the shelves are arranged in shades of every colour and then there are wicker baskets sitting at worktop height, again ordered in colour, just right for flipping through to find a fat-quarter or several! The quality of the fabrics is high, even the cheaper ones (plains and spotty varieties) are good quality cotton. I could spend many happy hours there - have done in fact - but my time there is limited to when I am visiting, which is not often enough!
There is a large selection of books for sale, and all the usual notions set out on a display cabinet, again giving the pleasure of a rummage through to make an unexpected discovery - I found a box of quilter's safety pins, and a purple marker that magically disappears in time - brilliant for using on fabric to make sure you are sewing where you should be! I also found a little kaleidoscope prism that said it would let you see a whole quilt's worth of patchwork by looking through it at just a small block - but I haven't got the hang of that yet - it is lovely anyway!
They also stock a wide range of wadding, including bamboo which is really soft and lovely to use.
They have a loyalty scheme running whereby you collect stamps (as in stamped ink) on a card and when you have 12 of these you can have 1 metre of fabric for free - brilliant! This is where I bought the first fabric for the Moses-basket quilt.
P.S. For most recent work go to my Etsy shop
So, today, Richard Mott the Master Farrier (a new Allan Ahlberg character?) was due to come out to the neighbour's donkeys - and the neighbour had to go to Brittany for the day - guess who was left holding the donkeys …
I am a bit scared of horses and donkeys, to be honest, especially when on the same side of a fence. The neighbour, let's call him Pierre, didn't think it was necessary to put head collars on them as he thought they would be easy to catch, hmmm.
Luckily we have a friend, Vanessa, who is used to animals such as these (in fact she rescued a donkey who had previously lived on Pierre's land, and had to have serious farrier work carried out to get his feet back to normal) and she willingly came over to lend a hand, bringing head collars and donkey treats with her. We (four of us) managed to corner the pair and with much patience and cajoling, Richard, impressively aided by his wife Angela, who I am sure is actually a donkey-whisperer, was able to perform a minor miracle on the jenny, whose hooves were so overgrown that they were curling up and causing her legs to splay. Big respect all round (even a little bit to me, who held onto the jenny whilst her hubby was being done!)
A cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit later and I have recovered enough to take a photo of another of the "Soft Geometry" collection found since yesterday's entry. I am still looking for the little framed piece that I know is somewhere . . . . .
"You could make the baby a Moses-basket quilt, Mum!"
This was the suggestion of Anna, one of my daughters, back in May 2011, who had just announced that she was expecting her first baby in January 2012. This would be our second grandchild, following the arrival of darling Ada in October 2009. It was years since I had done any patchwork, and although I loved it back then, I felt decidedly rusty and didn't really feel confident enough to make any promises.
Back in the olden days (the 70s/early 80s), when Kate and Anna were tiny, I made patchwork cushions, children's clothing - incorporating patchwork, wall hangings (OK, only small ones), table runners, and framed pictures. I got really into it and even sold some things in a local craft gallery as the "Soft Geometry" collection.
I am wondering where all these things went to - the ones that didn't sell … After much rummaging I have found an ancient cushion cover from around 1978. It isn't in the best condition, but it does have a frill!
Also a couple of photographs - one of me selling patchwork cushions and children's clothes at a craft market in Goole, Humberside in 1978, with a tiny Kate in tow, and another of Kate aged about 8 years sitting next to a "Soft Geometry" cushion.
So I set about looking out my old bags of fabric and quickly realised that I would need to go shopping. What a revelation that was! There are so many tools and gadgets available these days to facilitate the making of patchwork, and I was a willing shopper! Luckily YouTube has videos on just about anything you need to find out about and I began some serious research. I found the Missouri Quilt Company pretty quickly and spent a long time absorbing their wonderfully easy to follow techniques. (e.g. this one ) I decided I needed a cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler as the very basic essentials. A simple task you might think - but there are so many on the market.
I decided to work in imperial units, as most of the equipment and patterns are in inches (although you buy fabric in metres - bizarre!) So I went for an 18" x 24" cutting mat and an Omnigrid 6.5" x 24" ruler. I got quite a small rotary cutter, the Olfa 28mm blade.
Next stop - fabric!