Wednesday 21 May 2014

Rotary cutter revelations

I am somewhat of a sceptic when it comes to technological advances - I have an ancient Nokia mobile phone, I wind the windows of my car open and shut by hand and my sewing machine dates from the early 60's. And when it comes to patchworking I cut fabrics with scissors, that is I used to and then a couple of Christmasses ago my husband gave me a rotary cutter and a quilting ruler. My life was transformed!
Rotary cutters are basically pizza cutters but for fabric and used in conjunction with a cutting mat and a quilting ruler you can produce beautifully straight and accurately measured cuts.
Mine is made by Olfa and measures 45mm diameter and my ruler is 24inches long and 6 inches wide and is calibrated every which way - joy!
This Saturday I am giving a demo of machine patchworking, at Sew Patchwork in Thame, which will include how to use a rotary cutter and I have been busy making up samples to show some the different effects you can create quickly and easily using strip patchwork.
Lovely simple technique!
Chain stitching blocks together
Creating an elongated checker board with
a strip of two fabrics chopped into squares
Same strip as above but assembled to create
lightening flash

Friday 16 May 2014

Crash course in patchwork - results!

I have just got from the WI's Denman College, Marcham a very convenient thirty minute drive from home, having taught my crash course in patchworking.
The course is aimed at patchwork novices and I hope to inspire them and liberate them from pre conceived ideas as to what is the right/wrong way of patchworking, encouraging them to find their own style whilst mastering some basic skills and gaining confidence.
I recently had a lovely note from a student who had attended another version of this course earlier in the year, to say that having done my 'Whacky cushion' (her description) she had designed and sold twelve cushions and been commissioned to make six for a hotel on the Galapagos Islands - as a teacher I can't wish for more......

So here are today's successes and what I love is the variety of designs and approaches and all the smiles

Happy student with pretty cushion
The first row of something which will be much bigger
Lovely mix of fabrics, especially those dots
Large panel with added embellishments and machine embroidery
Panel made in to bag
And on the back 'lightening flash' strip patchwork
Highly textural panel using furnishing fabrics, love the tufted strips
and the very three-d 'pom pom'

More creative stitching at Denman suited to beginners especially but all welcome, and you don't have to be a member of the WI to attend the courses-

13th - 15th October, super creative cushions, ripping, gathering embellishing to your heart's content

13th - 14th November, hand stitched patchwork using templates

1st December Patchwork for beginners, Christmas stars

9th - 11th January, Happy scrappy patchwork, getting creative and having fun with patch work

Monday 12 May 2014

Hand stitched patchwork

Inspired by my recent trip to Danson House, to see the 'Things we do in Bed' exhibition, which author Tracy Chevalier put together, I thought that I would have a go at patchworking by hand, minus templates. TC showed some hand pieced samples that she had been working on whilst writing 'The Last Runaway' and she was happy for us to have a close up look at them. So here's what I made,  and what fun it turned out to be!

I love each process of patchworking;
First choosing the fabrics, I sit and make little pile of fabrics I think go together and move them around a bit and swap them over until I am happy.
Then I press the final selection of fabrics ready for slicing and cutting into shape with my indispensable rotary cutter and quilting rule
Then there's the design bit - in this case I did it in my head and committed nothing to paper, that way it's infinitely flexible!
So then I chop some strips and start to assemble them - it's a pretty organic, make it up as you go along method - but I like that
Then there's the actual stitching - I looked up various chapters about hand stitching, got a bit confused about some of the stuff they said about stopping and starting at specific points on the seams, put the books away and started.
I used single thread with a thinnish needle, pinning seams together then running stitch to join them and then carefully ironing them flat. I tend to iron on the back first to ensure that all the seam allowances really are flat and don't twist and flip midway, then I press again on the front to get a really neat finish.
The panel grew surprisingly quickly and it was very satisfying stitching by hand - rather quieter than my ancient Singer, I could listen to Radio 4  without having it up full blast!

I may well put together a course for this technique as it's so therapeutic, rewarding and speedy.

Drop me a line if you would be interested. . .

Fabric selection
Pinning and stitching - note multiple stitches on the needle,
this makes it a really quick method of patchworking
The back of the panel showing stitches and pressed seams
Work in progress on the ironing board
Finished sampler

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Car boot booty!

It's that time of year when carboots appear on the calendar and sunday mornings start rather early. So last sunday I was up and out of the house by seven and on the road to my favourite carboot sale, located on a picturesque village green. The sun shone and the sellers were out in force, I think the last one that was scheduled had to be cancelled due to utterly dismal weather conditions.
The dealers were also out in force,  always interesting to see what they swoop in on.
So I took some pics of things that caught my eye, I hasten to add that I did not buy these items just smiled at them and then moved on.
I spent the princely sum of £12 on a pile of plants, a beautiful, unworn 'Toast' dress complete with price tags, a shirt for my boy and a delightful little Japanese jam pot for a friend who collects such items!

Child's ironing board
Great little car
Fire screen!
Tin type write - I have one of these already - somewhere!
Ancient box of gentlemen's collars
Tiled coffee table with apt thought

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