Friday, 29 May 2009

More 'flaws' than Selfidges!

Detail of "Ginger Bliss" 12" x 12" 2008. 
(Cotton, bubble wrap and bobbin quilting)

As a child and young women my drive for 'perfection' would often lead to frustration, trantrums and tears. With maturity I have learnt to adopt a more 'laissez faire' approach to many aspects of my life and whilst I will always try my best  I am now able to accept the notion of "let do".   I have come to appreciate that perfection , like beauty,  is very much in the eye of the beholder and what is considered  a so called 'defect' by one will be viewed as a 'style element'  by another. For many of us it is often a natural response to counter praise by drawing attention to our imperfections. I am not quite sure why we do this - perhaps to cover congratulatory embarrassment  or most probably because we believe our mistakes detract from the work. We become focused on 'the parts'  instead of appreciating the 'whole' .  I am sure I am not the only one eho has heard the response  " well if you hadn't have said ... I wouldn't have known"  when pointing out a so-called mistake?    I have a friend who is afraid to make mistakes. She is not able to 'let-go', let things be and develop her own style. She will accept nothing less than perfection and  as a result makes very little. She is a follower of  Seneca who said "quality is better than quantity" ?  But there is also a view that suggests  it is better to create imperfect work today than to wait until you have achieved perfection tomorrow.  I now agree with the later view. Whilst my work may not be perfect I am at least creating and with each new creation I learn something new, improve a known technique, refine my skill base and become more familiar with my own strengths and weaknesses. All of my work has  flaws in it. Yes I will 'rip' and redo major trouble spots but I will now question if it is necessary to do so beforehand and I no longer draw attention to them if I decide to leave them because they are the essence of what makes my work mine!   

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ring-a- ring o Rosies

Quilt on the quilting frame

Outer Borders - Back of quilt

Centre quilting - back of quilt

A new quilt has eventually come off the quilting frame today! I say eventually because I had serious doubts I would ever be able to finish this one and poor old Rosie would be waiting a month of Sundays for her quilt. Rosie pieced this 110" square quilt for her master bedroom and spent many hours looking for the right shades of green and lemon to coordinate with the multi-blue floral furnishing fabric dotted throughout the top. I know how much she is looking forward to getting this quilt finished and on her bed and I feel sooo bad that it has taken me sooo long to quilt for her. The month of May has conspired against me though and has seen me pulled emotionally and physically in all directions, and mainly from my children in one form or another.

No 1 son passed his pre-divers assessment, came home elated but was informed the next day that he could face waiting up to a year to get into HMS Raleigh ... surprisingly depression followed .. and not from no 1 son but mum and dad. Love him as we do there comes a time when children should fly the roost (lol). But good news followed and he will join the Navy as a Diver - second class on July 19th! Yeah! He is very pleased .... and rightly so I think too!

DD has been in the throws of exams and I have been ferrying her back and forth to school for what seems like weeks. A last minute invitation to interview for art college also presented itself but meant a flying visit to Devon - a 4 hour drive for us and after a morning Drama exam too. It was a good job the drama went well and the roads were clear! I was mentally exhausted by the time we got there. But good news again .. she was offered an unconditional place on the day! This was great until we discovered that the city she will be studying in has 30,000 students and most of them had already booked accomodation for the forthcoming 2010 school year. Frantic or what! Well good news again - I have now found her a lovely house with, what sounds like, a lovely landlady.

No 3 son has had several school activities needing my attentence at school culminating with a really great sports day last Friday, where I managed to get a little sunburnt! On the plus side No. 2 son has been surprisingly quiet throughout May inspite of his uncanny ability to miss/forget the school bus home and ring for taxi-driver mum to take him home - which is all very well if its planned! Asides from this, DH is STILL seaching for the perfect car and is currently sharing No.1 sons Mini yet somehow I am often needed to drop him off to work or pick him up.

So, all in all I have been busy and you can perhaps see why quilting this rather large quilt has taken me way way longer than I had planned. Add to this its 'quirky' measurements and it was a bit of a task!

Medallion (or bullseye quilts as they are sometimes called) are a bit of a bugger at the best of times to quilt on a longarm frame. If they aren't perfectly square in the centre, incremental inaccuracies can accumulate border by border you end up with a monster in need of taming. Somtimes you can work with them and gently coax them back into square, other times you dont stand a chance! This one was an in-betweeny! Each border was slightly out and each block was not really a square or a rectangular in many cases (what do you call a 4 sided polygon where all sides are different lengths?).

Cutting or sewing innaccuracies of just one 16th or one 8th of an inch per seam doesn't sound alot until you realise that there masy be as many as 20 seams (or more) in a row. Add these togther and you can easily be out of square an inch or more per border and eventually the whole quilt top can take on a dog-eared effect with elongated corners. Some quilts can be brought back into square on the final border but the centre then puffs up like a parachute, alternately some borders may be ok and others not giving smaller but as problematice "ripples " border to border. But whatever the characteristics of the 'out-of-squareness' the innaccuracies become very evident when they are placed on a square quilting frame and somehow the quilter has to try and quilt these out - which isn't always easy! But then as one of my teachers said years ago ... " if it were easy it wouldn't be worth doing" . Uhm ! I'm not sure I would always agree with him, even if I do appreciate his sentiment.

Unfortunately many people seem to forget that each 'round' on a medallion quilt is infact a border and this means that you should measure opposite sides and ensure they are the same length before applying them.

Some time ago I wrote a booklet on how to apply borders. I have been known to give these these to customers with problematic quilts! I have one ready for Rosies. On the upside it has come together quite well in the end and the overall difference is just 1 inch across 2 sides with the other 2 being spot on. With a proper blocking session this 1" difference could be made to magically dissappear too. I have a tutorial almost finished on how to block a quilt so watch this space!

For those that are interested in such things I used almost 7000 metres of 50wt Aurifil cotton thread in 3 colours and the patterns I used are mainly from a series by
One Song Needle Arts called "Carmens Roses" plus a beautiful heirloom rose design by Shannon Hicks which unfortunately I cannot find a link for anymore. I have looked for it but it appears to have been discontinued, although it would be worth asking Shannon if you really wanted it. I echoed all of the designs and quilted a simple freehand feather as a background fill to create the psuedo trapunto effect. I used Matildas Own wool/poly blend batting which I have to say is my all time favorite.

Unfortunately with all the stopping and starting with my May conspiracy I have lost count of the number of hours I spent quilting this one but I think its in excess of 50 hours.

Do you like?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A Sapphire Wedding Quilt!

Do you remember 'the baby' I was working on a couple of weeks ago? The quilt that I sailed waaay to close to the wind with, with me finally getting it bound, sleeved and photographed by 3pm on the closing day for entries .. eek! Well it may have been cutting it fine but guess what ? the quilt was juried into the "Inspirations by Hungarian Blue-Dyed Textiles" exhibition! Woo-hoo! I am soo pleased for Pam and John - the owner/makers. Pam made the quilt as a celebration for their 45th wedding anniversary last year. They were married 45 years on the 6th of the 7th month in 2008 - 45, 6, 7, 8! (Great number sequence! ) The quilt - "A Sapphire Wedding Quilt", was designed by Pam to include the  Single Wedding Ring  (or Crown of Thorns) block and uses 29 different
Kekfesto cotton fabrics. It measures 2m wide x 3m long ! Yep it big but then Pam doesn't do small quilts. It was soo long in fact I couldn't find anywhere to hang it to photograph it properly so I had to let the bottom drape onto the floor.

I limited the quilting designs to a beautiful feathered Heart design by Kim Brunner, my own rope wreath, and a beautiful single dove - which I think is one of by One Song Needles Arts - but cant be sure. There is some continuous curve quilting and loads of stitch in the ditch too! The background is all freehand quilted with a mini baptist fan type design. All in all around 75 hours of work from receipt to delivery! My hands ached after all the meander detail but I really like how it turned out.

The quilt will be on display for the best part of a year travelling around venues within Hungary but starting on June 13th in Papa in the Kékfestő Múzeum (Museum of Indigo Resist Dyeing) and can be visited until 19th July 2009.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Space Invaders!

Last week was Outer Space week at school with the children doing lots of 'alien' activities. On Friday they had a dress-up day. I hate dress up days .... why do schools have them? It falls to everyone else other than the child to make the costume ... and that usully means me! Whats more, the idea I have for the costume is NOT what my child normally wants and trantrums may quite possibly ensue if we aren't in sync. Take last week for example. I suggested an alien monster costume - stuffed socks for additional legs, some shredded cardboard for monster hair etc... NO that would not do... "I want to be a astronaut in a white suit made from cardboard boxes", and being the obliging mum that I am (not usually) I made said costume. " Fantasic" we all agreed. But come the morning of the parade " ... ugh I dont want to wear it ....."


Don't you just love them? No matter, these things happen I suppose and he is only 5 still. I've had the same with all the others too. A child that wouldn't be in the navitity play because it involved wearing a tea-towel on his head, a child that wouldn't go trick or treating unless he had a bat costume - dispite the fact I had JUST made him a requested ghost costume the day before and a child that couldn't possibly be minnie mouse unless she had bright shinny red shoes! To continue the alien/monster outer space theme we had another birthday party on Sunday for Archie this time ... guess what he got? Yep a personalised pump bag ... much to my little-ones disgust "please dont make him a pump bag!" Is mum starting to embarass him I wonder? I do put paper and pens and some sweeties inside too!