Friday 27 March 2015

Vintage renovation

I was recently asked if I could renovate an old piece of patchwork and turn it into a finished quilted item. After a couple of beats I said yes and so that is what I have been doing this week. I think it dates back to the '30's, that is a guess based on the fabrics used and nothing more scientific or informed. It was interestingly constructed; each log cabin style block was hand stitched together and then hand stitched on to a backing using running stitch in the seams, 'stitch in the ditch'. These backed panels were then sewn together, again by hand, and the piece was left unfinished....until this week.
I decided to back it with calico and and to fold the baking on to the front to create the edging. I used a lightest of adding as I didn't want to put a strain on the delicate seams and began by laying the three layers out on the lounge floor; calico, wadding and patchwork. I crawled  around pinning through the layers trying to keep the top as smooth as possible. I then carefully double folded the edge over, pinned and tacked it in place. After a lot of umming and ahhhing I decided to hand stitch the edging to keep in the spirit of the original patchwork. It took a little while (a couple of episodes of 'Breaking Bad' to be precise) but it was well worth it. Then I sorted out 80 small double hole buttons and started to quilt, from the centre outwards to the edges. I compiled a mix of softly coloured embroidery threads that reflected the colours in the patchwork and placed a button on each intersection of four blocks - that's how I got to 80 - and stitched them on and finished them off with a knot on the topside, I left tails of a couple of centimetres for extra interest. I hope that my client will be pleased - I'm pretty chuffed with the finished item.

Here are some pictures of the process 

The patchwork before any work, untrimmed,
no wadding, no backing, no quilting
The reverse of the patchwork shows a variety of
fabrics used to back each block and hand stitched
Detail of the front showing the eclectic range
of fabrics used
Buttons sorted, I deliberately mismatched them, it felt
appropriate for the patchwork
Close up of button and knot detail
Corner detail and the back of a button and knot
- that little dimple
The finished quilt

Monday 23 March 2015

Paper cutting in Woodbridge

I had a bit of an adventure last weekend - setting off for Woodbridge, Suffolk  Friday afternoon, praying I would miss the M25 rush hour, which seems to get longer and longer.
I had been invited to run a paper cutting workshop for Art Safari who are based in a lovely building, the Harbour Master's Office, right on the quay, with views out to the boats and water.
The new tables were fresh out of their packaging and set up ready to be decked with papers, cutting mats, resources and scalpels - all very exciting. Once set up and ready for our students to arrive on Saturday, we went to the Anchor for a delicious supper and much chat.
Saturday dawned grey and dull but that didn't stop us having a great time and the sun managed to creep out by lunch time which added extra sparkle to the day.
Several fish were cut, a wedding card and a beautiful baby panel - I'm always thrilled to see what people come up with and look forward to hearing about how they develop their new found skills.

Paper cutting at Banbury Mill

Another weekend, another paper cutting course this time at the Mill right in the centre of Banbury ( I have been busy busy this month). There is a great arts and crafts room within  this rabbit warren of a building, which also houses a cafe, a theatre and several studio spaces. the arts and crafts room has plenty of space and light and my students produced more fabulous designs and cuts and yet, again I am thrilled and amazed at their creativity. They never cease to amaze me, especially as pretty much 99.99% of them have never paper cut before.
Busy cutting
Portrait of a pet pug
A particularly delicate cut
Birthday card for a thirty year old
A beautiful bird with foliage
For a new born baby
A panel for the family - 'l' and 'y' to be added later!!

Friday 13 March 2015

Looking forward to this....

Last night 'Alexander McQueen : Savage Beauty' opened at the V and A and yesterday morning I bought my tickets so I am very excited.
An extraordinary designer and visionary whose influence has seeped into so many creative areas.
I took this photograph early one morning, as I walked from Marble Arch to Charing Cross Station, my route to Goldsmiths College when I was doing my PGCE. I saw some amazing sights at that time of the day including the Queen's cavalry maybe fifty or sixty horses trotting down Oxford Street, and this. It is one of A Mc's iconic pieces - a beautiful red cape? cloak? those words are really too timid for this dramatic garment that could grace any fairytale queen, and an incredible golden head piece to add that extra excitement.
It was displayed in Selfridge's prime site corner window and the window cleaners were about their daily job. I took this just as the suds started to clear and it is one of my favourite pics - mysterious and beautiful.

Thursday 5 March 2015

More Paper Cutting at Denman

It's been a busy busy week and it's not finished yet. After my Lancashire federation patch working bonanza and returning home on Sunday, a rapid unpack and quiet moment, I repacked the car with paper cutting kit and returned ready for my next course which started on Monday evening and finished yesterday.
And look what my paper cutting novices produced, so proud of them!

Busy busy designing and cutting

So very intricate - the squirrel was this student's first cut
Hoopi birds in a Polish style - great colours
Two lovely cuts

Monday 2 March 2015

Pride of Lancashire!

What a fabulous few days I have had with some wonderful ladies from the WI's Lancashire Federation. Much hilarity and jolliness and a very large dollop of creative cutting and stitching. I am always thrilled when students say how much they are enjoying themselves and how they didn't think they could do something..but look....they have.... and some.
Everyone made the most of having time to design and make and chat and laugh all in the comfort of the textiles room - some very noisy moments and then some very quite moments of concentration where you could, literally, hear a pin drop!
Hugely rewarding for all involved and I look forward to seeing them again at some point.

Me with my lovely ladies
Flowers and gingham perfection
Love the patterns and use of colours 
Visitors from the other courses -
they were very impressed!
Over view of what was made
Fifty shades of blue!

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