If it’s February it must be just a bit nearer longer days and shorter nights and maybe better light to sew by (although it goes without saying that our sewing spaces are wonderfully illuminated with the very best of task lighting….).
Chris has had such a busy start to the year with a full schedule of classes at The Corner Patch – not that much humming of sewing machines over at C&B Towers, just the whirr and clatter of the printing press as worksheets are put together.
From the Overseas Office there are reports of lots of silent sewing/quilting but very little pictorial evidence so far. However, you will note that certain C&B traditions are being upheld –
In other news our Electric Quilt Doodles page has been updated for the month – why not click over and take a look? And download the colouring sheet for a quiet coffee break.
No, not a new Olympic sport – merely the gentle (?) art of trying to get a large quilt layered up and under a domestic sewing machine in a relatively confined space. Chris seems to have been doing a lot of it lately as part of a drive to get a few UFOs out of the way and off the list. So, having created a backing and pressed it, it is necessary to create a large enough space to lay it out flat. . .
First – move the furniture . .
next – move the books . . .
Lay the backing out and pin it to the carpet.
Spray glue onto the wadding and stick it to the backing – trying not to get glue on the carpet!
Glue the wadding again and stick the quilt top down, smoothing out as many wrinkles as possible.
Carefully pick up the quilt sandwich and lug it upstairs to the sewing room. (note the technical terminology – Barbara) Don’t forget to remove the pins from the carpet first. The quilt layers now need to be pinned as the quilt is too big for just glue to hold it together. The sewing room floor is hard with a vinyl covering – ideal for pinning, unlike the sitting room floor where it is just too easy to pin the whole thing to the carpet and picking it up involves a lot of unpinning, repinning and bad language. But the sewing room floor is also too small to spread a big quilt out . .
. . so it has to be glued together downstairs and can then be safely pinned in sections upstairs.
The small brown cushion thing is a garden kneeler, a Christmas present from little sister who was somewhat bemused by Chris’s delight with this small gift and even more bemused when she announced it would ‘go upstairs straight away’. Isn’t the garden outside? It was when last we looked?
Once pinned the quilt was tossed over the bannister and the landing bookcase – with a couple of pillows under it keep it as crease free as possible. . .(is this a crucial step in the proceedings? Barbara)
. . . all ready for when Chris next has a free day to fire up the machine and get stitching.
Must remember to get some thread too.
Every once in a while we try to remind ourselves that its ok to point out some of the stuff we do apart from “just” teaching – but it’s not always the easiest thing to do yourself. So Barbara thought this short post should be a reminder of some of Chris’s output. Every month you can read Chris’s regular “Wandering the Web” column in Patchwork & Quilting magazine. Then there are the countless projects Chris has had published over the years in Popular Patchwork magazine – her Autumn Star Sampler is in the current issue
Here’s a glimpse of a very recent finish from the Stitching Studio at C&B Towers which may well be a future magazine project –
And did you know you could find a selection of Chris’s downloadable patterns at Meadowside Designs and also on Craftsy? (Chris reports that the current favourite is the Hallowe’en Spider!) (largely ‘cos it’s free I suspect – Chris)
While Barbara has been teaching in Denver Chris has been busy teaching here. Although with the lovely weather we’ve had this week it’s amazing that students have turned up at all (let alone teacher) – everyone’s been saying they could do with being in the garden, so some classes were perhaps more condensed (shall we say) than originally planned!
So on Wednesday evening we spent a couple of hours playing with machine quilting – straight and slightly curved lines with the walking foot and then doodling with the free motion, just to get the feel of it. Plenty of time to practice later at home (once it starts to rain again).
Thursday was Dresden Plate day in Technique of the Month at The Corner Patch. Chris had brought along a few examples
thrown together carefully stitched (or glued) over the years. These were all round ones – as you might expect – but we need to fill a space 4 x 12 inches so we had a choice: make three very small round plates or one large(r) oval plate. Chris was attempting to demonstrate the oval plate. No photos of that as Chris forgot the camera on the day and now can’t find the sample! It’ll be in the bottom of a box or bag somewhere. Or still at the shop?
On Saturday we were back at the Corner Patch for Block of the Month and a different Technique of the Month (Saturday students are a month behind Thursday’s because it snowed in January). Block of the Month was Star Puzzle which gave us some more practice in Half-square Triangles and Flying Geese. We’ll have to show you an EQ picture as once again Chris can’t locate the sample (must be a Black Hole in the sewing room this morning – Chris). (I blame paint fumes from too much garden fence painting – Barbara).
In the afternoon we looked at hand piecing – mostly hexagons and diamonds. But seeing as it was Chris attempting to teach this we also looked at techniques for machine stitching these shapes.
Now its time to start putting everything together for the Chris and Barbara class this coming Saturday – Tumbling Stars – and really Chris ought to prepare for an EQ evening class she’s teaching next Wednesday and the following Saturday workshop – making a picnic table set using a charm pack – both at the Corner Patch (and Jane says she has a couple of places left). Here’s a picture of one of the table mats –
As the sun is still shining, its time to go back into the garden. Lesson plans can wait until its raining!
Chris has been busy finishing off things. One thing we always say to students is – remember to clean out your machine and change the needle regularly, preferably each time you start a new project. Chris was quilting a not very big quilt (about 36 inches square) when the bobbin ran out. After a few mutterings a new one was ready but when Chris took the old one out there seemed to be quite a bit of fluff in the feed dogs; despite having de-fluffed the machine before starting. So … the bobbin race and feed dogs were dismembered and thoroughly cleaned out with the handy brush provided for the purpose. This was the result –
All that fluff from half a quite small quilt. Yeurgh. No wonder the machine was starting to make noises. So Chris’s new resolution is – when quilting, do what we preach in classes – clean the fluff out every time the bobbin is changed. As well as every new project. And actually, looking at the state of Chris’s sewing room, perhaps wielding the vacuum cleaner after every quilt has been finished would not be a bad idea – the fluff everywhere isn’t quite the same proportions as the fluff in the machine, but there’s a fair amount of it on every available surface. This of course is why we buy fabric – to cover every available surface so the dust and fluff don’t show. Then there’s the whole other thing about frequent and judicious use of the lightweight sewing machine oil that should be within easy reach of every sewing machine … and the new needle for every new project….. We were really careful to point out all these basic ongoing maintenance issues in Right From The Start
Very much a case of do as we say perhaps?!
Footnote: Unrelated to fluffy machines and good maintenance practice, you might want to hop over to http://tallgrassprairiestudio.blogspot.co.uk/ to take a look at the excellent tutorial on stitching curved seam units.
… Chris is once again in sole charge of C&B Towers as Barbara has gone off in search of sea, sand and sun – not necessarily in that order. Hopefully she’s found at least one of them, but as she is wi-fi-less (horror!) we won’t know until she’s back.
So what has Chris been up to? Quite a lot of quilting, actually. The ‘really ought to get that finished’ pile has been reduced ever so slightly. Two cot quilts are complete, and washed, ready to hand over to expectant mum in a couple of weeks.
Not only that, but the pattern for them has been written up and you’ll find it here.
Slightly flushed with this success Chris moved on to a couple of tops that have been sitting about for quite some time. First out of the bag was an autumnal one. Chris had been so pleased with how the patchwork turned out that she didn’t want to ‘ruin’ it with inept quilting. Sound familiar? Chris gave herself a good talking-to: time to get over such silly ideas and just get on and quilt – no one ever got good at something by not doing it, did they? So a bit of in-the-ditch and a squiggly curve or two in the borders later and its done. Even got the binding on!
And finally … the quilt top Chris was making at Uttoxeter has had a border added (thanks, Alison, for having just the right fabric in stock!) and once more into the ditch and another squiggle round the borders and it too is done. The binding is nearly on that one as well, another good Proms concert to listen to will see it finished. Thursday night perhaps?
But today has been paperwork day and ‘tidy up this chaos’ day. Which meant putting away some old photos which had come to light in a rummage for something else entirely. And this one caught Chris’s eye. It would seem that wrapping up warm for a day on the beach in July was normal even back in the ‘olden days’ – think this was probably late 1920s or early 1930s – Chris’s great-grandmother was not going to catch a chill!
Whatever’s happening – has Chris had too much sun? Is it the effect of going away on holiday?
You may remember seeing this some months ago when Chris was attempting to make a back large enough to fit, with enough overhang for longarm quilting.
And now ….. Here it is on the kitchen table being tacked. By hand. No pins. Does this mean …. I fear it it does … Chris is going to attempt to (dare we say it?) hand quilt this monstrous thing.
The reasoning behind this seeming madness (and for those you who don’t know – Chris does not (repeat, not) do hand sewing) is that quilting by credit card is unaffordable at the moment and the thing is too large to be mauled around inthe small space where the sewing machine resides. So … hand quilting it is. For the moment. Do not expect to see a post of the finished article for some years. The last quilt (also a Welsh design) that Chris started hand quilting is still not finished some 20 years later! Although, thanks to stirling work by Ann Jermey, it’s not far off and ‘will do’ for now (and probably for ever, unless Ann comes to stay again).
It was made with Viyella ‘ends of rolls’ from a long-defunct shop (anyone remember the White Hart fabric shop?) and has a wool wadding which – as you can see- is bearding horribly. Never mind, it has been bound and lives behind the settee where it does a great job as a ‘poorly’ quilt for snuggling up in when watching daytime tv and nursing the ‘flu.
It was a glorious sunny day and we were all (24 of us) indoors slaving over hot sewing machines trying to master FMQ. Barbara had brought the technology – we had a video demonstration no less, although Chris was in danger of impaling herself on the tripod at one point. With such a full class this video technique worked extremely well, enabling everyone to see clearly what was happening, where the needle was going, and what the hands were doing and even to follow along too.
Mind you there was an awful feeling at the beginning when so many machines didn’t seem capable of being set up for free motion …. two of them finally defeated us (one didn’t have a darning foot, the other machine was convinced it knew what to do and us mere mortals were wrong) so Chris nipped home and collected more darning feet and another spare machine … we did have visions of half a dozen folk going home before lunch without having achieved a single stitch. But in the end we got nearly everyone’s machines to cooperate and soon a busy hum and whirr filled the air as everyone looped the loop, and drew Es, garlics, and pebbles. After a lunch break out in the sunshine (admiring the Bowling Green) Barbara showed everyone how to draw a feather with their machine. Quite a few brave souls attempted it – and achieved success. We also had a go at following a drawn design on tear-away tissue. This proved more complicated than it looked but, once more, a bit of practice and most people were pleased with their final attempts.
We’re both doing that well-known teaching activity – filling boxes and packing cars! It’s the first class of our Sampler Quilt series tonight and it will probably take what feels like hours to get everything assembled and ready to go. The venue at Stone Station is great, with a very helpful caretaker who will set out tables and chairs for us, and the parking is easy and level. But there’s so much stuff! The sewing machines, the display boards, the demonstration things, the handouts, the books and magazines to browse, the fabric basket, the big refreshments bag, the irons and ironing boards – by the time all this has been collected and packed into the cars, unpacked and set out, packed up and back to the car, then out of the car and back indoors we feel like we’ve done an intensive workout at the gym!
Here are a few more of Chris’s Sampler blocks that will be on the demonstration table tonight –
Too much to do and can’t decide what to tackle first. I ought to make some more sampler blocks – especially the Lone Star one – but couldn’t get the fabric choice quite right, then cut it out with the wrong measurements so it doesn’t fit together. Bother. Obviously not in the right mood for cutting and piecing.
Perhaps a little quilting? There are innumerable tops awaiting a little tlc, a border or two maybe, some wadding, backing and stitching. But which one to tackle first? And have I got enough backing fabric? I did have, long ago when I first finished the top … but where did I put it? Or have I forgotten and used it in something else? And even if I do get round to tacking it all together – what design do I stitch? And have I got the right thread? And enough of it?
I have made a lot of samples of the small bag for the bag workshop on Jan 23rd. Did those last month – last year, even! But have forgotten to do Blue Peters necessary for class. I’ve found some more fabric and wadding – good start. But, no Vilene. A trip to the shops is required, but the car is covered in snow and its cold out there – isn’t it?! Maybe I’ll just light the fire and find my library book – its nearly due back so I need to finish it, don’t I?
sample small bags for class
And so another day of dither and delay and procrastination unfolds … !