Sunday, 24 June 2012

Memories of Martha

I'm adding this post to the FAL Linky Party as it was the main thing I declared at the beginning of the quarter. I did have one other quilt I wanted to finish, but I haven't even started on that yet!!!

Just before Christmas 2010 my Aunty Martha passed away. She was a difficult woman, but special in her own way. She was also very close to one of my cousins Kathleen. My Aunty Mary, Kathleens mother passed a few months later making it an even more difficult time.

Kathleen is one of the few people in my family who is as obsessed with crafts as I am although she is a compulsive knitter. When she said how much she would love a quilt I knew it was from a genuine appreciation of them and the work that goes into them rather than just wanted something for the sake of it. A lot of my relations wouldn't ever understand how much effort goes making handmade items and I have been hurt in the past by how little care has been taken of things I have made people.

But I knew I would make Kathleen a quilt. And as I had been the one to clear out Martha's home and kept some of her sheets I knew I would use them for the backing.

Then Becky hosted a quilt-a-long with a paper pieced block she had designed and it seemed perfect for the quilt. So I started, in early 2011. And bit by bit I got there. Long after the qal finished I was still making the blocks.

Eventually I was ready to start quilting, but it took me months to start as I was constantly changing my mind of how I wanted to do it. I quilted it in four pieces and then put them together. Then for some reason I decided to hand stitch the binding down for the first time in about 3 years! So that took even longer.

Then, last night it was finally finished. I estimate that there was between 80-100 hours of work on this quilt, but it was worth it. It used 49 different fabrics and 2 different variegated Aurifil threads, one yellow based, one green. It ended up 60x64 inches. It has loads of flaws, but I won't tell if you don't go looking for them!

This quilt is one of the few that had a name from the very beginning.

Memories of Martha.

What I've been up to

I seem to be up to loads at the moment but don't have the time to get to share it with you, therefore I am going to do two posts this evening to get caught up.

Firstly, the LMQG has an exhibition running at John Lewis' on Oxford Street for the month of June and some of us met up last weekend for lunch there and a good gossip. Then we moved onto Tricolette for some more chatting and sewing.

I know I am biased, but they do look very good in the display. Mine is at the bottom right. The theme was "what does modern quilting mean to you" and the interpretations are as varied and diverse as our guild.

I also went to the Sandown Quilt show yesterday. I have to admit, I found a lot of it quite boring and not very inspiring. A lot of the quilts and the stalls felt to me stuck in the past. I didn't spot a single piece of kona solid or any of the designers that I have come to love but then I don't think a lot of the visitors would have wanted that. I overheard not one, but two customers asking at different stands about cat fabric! I know, I know, just because it isn't my taste doesn't make it have less value but I think it was clear that my taste didn't match the majority there. I just felt that a lot of the work wasn't stretching either the sewer or the viewer.

However there were some pieces that were totally extraordinary and it was worth the entry fee just to get to see them.

I've been stalking Ferret online for a long time and knew she would be there. I even made myself go and talk to her and tell her how much I admire her work and she was delightful. We had a good chat about FMQ and she even mentioned that she might organise a 5 day FMQ retreat one day. If she does, I'm up for it. Because to learn from the person who can produce this - would be a privilege.

This is called Prometheus and is a whole cloth. See to the left the edge of a person, that gives you a sense of how enormous it is.

And here are some detail shots.

She also had a couple of others in the exhibition and more on her stand but I know I am coming over as enough of a fan girl as it is.

There were some other quilts that inspired me but I wanted to share this one with you. I've been stashing black and white fabric for ages, without really having a plan to how to use it. I've always been worried that the finished quilt wouldn't have enough zing in it. This one proves me wrong.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

You learn something new...

Have you ever had a little grumble to yourself when you get a comment from a no-reply blogger? I know I certainly have, especially if I don't notice until after I have written a reply to them.

But it turns out it may not be their fault - its Bloggers.

For full details follow the link

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Retreat goodies

Unfortunately since the joy of last weekend its been back to ordinary life and work so I haven't had time to post about the goodies I got at the retreat before now.

On arrival we got a fully loaded bag of treats - but I didn't have time to really look properly until it was all over. I did on the day spot the Aurifil pack which brought about a little squeal of joy and there was a zip I used in one of my classes.

Look at that mini charm pack of walk in the woods, and those London Fabrics; the Oakshott didn't really photograph well but it is a beautiful mauve colour.

Liberty of London were also on hand showing some of their new quilting cotton which are being launched soon. I managed to come home with this bag and this little selection of fabrics, the first two are silks and the last one is a big piece of cotton.

I still haven't thought what I will do with the silks, they are so delicate and I've never sewn with anything like that before. Some of the other retreat goers have already make some lovely bits. I'll think of something eventually.

I also took part in the ugly fabric swap but sort of cheated and scored! I didn't mean to cheat, but I was deep into the jelly roll race when it happened so didn't want to stop. Someone else took my bag up and gave me the one they were holding. The bag I got had a load of really good fabrics that all match - and some were green! Results.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What a weekend - part 1

Months and months ago I saw the team at Fatquarterly were putting a quilting retreat together. That would be fun I thought, but they are always the other side of the Atlantic and I would be too nervous to go that far without any experience of what a retreat is. Then they said it was being held in London!!! No brainer, I was in straight away.

And I waited, and I waited, and I waited - and it finally came this weekend!!!!

I spent yesterday recovering from it but it was one of the best weekends of my life. Up there with my 21st celebrations but a lot less blurry as no alcohol was involved.

Saturday was manic, overwhelming and utterly fantastic. As usual I arrived early to a big hug from Lynne and a goodie bag from John. There were a few other quilters in before me and then over the next hour another hundred or so arrived.

We had also been given a name bingo card so there was a lot of milling around trying to find those named. As everyone name tags were in the breast area this involved a lot of starring at boobies! One way to get to know each other. My mate Amy had to take it one step further though bless her. She had seen my wonderful name badge made by Di and wanted to stroke the stamp on it - so she did even though it was sitting right on top of my boob. Very very funny.

Eventually I got to my first class which was being given by Lucie Summers. I'm met her a couple of times now and she is fast becoming one of my favourite people as well as being sickeningly talented. She showed us how to do her porthole technique and I think you will agree that even with my crumpled sample below it is very effective.

In the afternoon we started sewing our Iron (wo)Man challenge top. Teams of 6 or 7 were given a bunch of fabric to do what we wanted. Because of classes etc. we worked on it in shifts. A little huddle to plan what to do and then Annie and myself cut and pieced the blocks before some of the others tidied them up later and assembled it. I never even took a picture of this (doh!).

Next it was my biggest fear. Zips! I hate them and even though I finally cracked how to put them in a cushion back I haven't tried anything else. Claudia fixed all that and I made this little pouch. Fear gone! Well as long as Claudia is around me anyway.

That was going to be my sewing for the day. I knew I was signed up for the jelly roll race but thought I would do it Sunday as I was totally shattered. But no, Michael found out and wanted to compete. Although it only needed to be against the clock, he needed someone to compete against and talked me into it. Oh dear. All I can say is either my machine was a lot slower than his or he cheated and snuck a loads of strips into my pile because it was never ending! Well he won obviously, after 1hr and 10mins solid sewing (I might have chatted a bit during it to people but he never stopped). As soon as he finished I put mine aside to carry on with it on Sunday.

Then finally it was time to relax, lounging in the bar area for a while chatting with guild members and a few others then out to dinner organised by Susan. I had a brilliant chat with Tammy, Judith and Jennie broke all the small talk social conventions and went straight into political and serious stuff. Very interesting to hear different viewpoints.

After dinner, I went back to the hall to pick up some bits as it was on the way to the car park. There was a quiz going on and like a kid who didn't want to miss anything I sat watching what was happening even though I was totally wiped out.

Sunday was a lot more mellow as that first manic excitement had passed. I set up my machine early intending to get the infernal jelly roll top done, but I chatted. A lot.

Then I had a class with Kerry on freezer paper piecing which was very relaxed and I can see me using this in the future.

After that I went back to the jelly roll - and chatted and chatted and chatted. After lunch I realised I had another class coming up so put my foot to the pedal and went for it. When I realised I had sewn the last row I may have squealed a bit - quite loudly. I was so glad it was done. In truth, it probably only needed about 20 mins sewing to get it finished but it took me half a day! You can see in my face what it had done to me!

My last class of the weekend was frame purses with Katy. I ended up sitting in the back in the naughty corner with Trudi and Trash. Trudi may look innocent but there was a lot of oo-eer missus innuendo going on in that classroom coming from her, but despite all that I managed to finish my purse and am delighted with it.

After that it was all the goodbyes and I couldn't face trying to see everyone. I said goodbye to a few people and left just before the end. Wishing it wasn't over but so very happy I had been a part of it. The energy of all those like minded people coming together to meet and have fun and learn new things was indescribable. There were loads more brilliant people I didn't name check, if I had remembered I had a camera most of the time I would have snaps of them.

However, you can read about others experiences over at

The next post will be about the goodies I received. This one was too long as it is.

Monday, 4 June 2012

This time last week I was...

On a train on my way to a city I have never been before, even though it isn't that far away. The train journey only took just over two hours.

Sometimes though, you need someone else to give you a push to get up and do something and Leanne was the one who did it for me this time. She came to London for the Fat Quarterly Retreat (more on that later) and suggested a day trip.

So by midday we were here at Sacre-Coeur overlooking Paris spread out below us.

Then we hopped back onto the tube (very easy to manage, just like London) and the next stop took us to here!

What you may be able to see from the picture is the Seine is just in front of the Tower with a little bridge in front. More on that bridge later!

We got a bit closer to the tower but didn't go up inside. Heights aren't my favourite anyway but the queue was wrapping around the bottom and we didn't want to waste the afternoon queueing in the heat. Yes it was very very hot.

Thats were the bridge came in. We were waiting for a river boat but desperately needed some shade, so we hid under the bridge!

The leisurely river cruise showed us more sights including Notre Dame,

but we stayed on until we got the the Louvre. Don't let that sky fool you, it was still roasting hot even though this was about 5pm.  

On the left of the picture you can see a series of arches on the lowest level. That's were we had a nice relaxing dinner surrounded by the natives before heading back to the station and home.

Fabulous day!