January journal quilt

One of my new year’s resolutions was to make a journal quilt each month. I had intended a different theme altogether for January – but somehow, this is what emerged – and is probably a good record of how I spent my spare time this month – organising my stash and marvelling at how much I have accumulated – Where did all this stuff come from, indeed!

I have started organising my patchwork fabrics and have been slicing most up into 2 1/2 inch strips so I can turn out a variety of interesting scrap quilts for charity, and also just because scrap quilts are my favourite – why only use half a dozen fabrics when you can use hundreds? I love scrap quilts.

Anyway – all this slicing and dicing produced a pile of selvedge edges and combined with my musings while I was working – voila – January’s journal quilt. I now have to make a little companian piece – part of my resolution was to make a postcard size piece to send to my good friend Gay in North Carolina, so she didn’t just see what I had done on the net, but also had a little piece to hold as well – so that is tomorrow’s project – except I have to go back to work tomorrow, after a four day weekend! Still, a postcard won’t take long, and I still have a lot of those selvedge edges left. Unfortuntely, I don’t have another one of those cute miniature rotary cutter pins – damn, I’ll have to think of something else special to include – I think I have an idea – watch this space!

Gorgeous gifts – and a serious tidy up

Aren’t I lucky? look what lovely little whimsies my friend Annette made for me. They are Christmas ornaments – I was supposed to get them before Christmas, but life got in the way. Annette and another friend and I have now made it a tradition to meet just before Christmas for afternoon tea at the Hyatt Hotel. Very posh and indulgent. We had to cancel at the last minute as Annette’s grandson decided to arrive early via an emergency Cesarean, so we arranged to meet today, and duly exchanged our gifts.

My gift to her was a goody bag filled with silk ribbons and luscious fabrics. I have been having a big tidy up. Early last year, my middle daughter moved back home rather suddenly, and I had to clear out a spare room – which I had of course taken over for my ‘stuff’. It all got bundled up and just stuck anywhere I could find a spot. That is one reason I wasn’t all that productive last year – I couldn’t find anything, and tended to exhaust whatever energy and enthusiasm I had just trying to locate the wherewithall to make something. She has moved out again now so have decided that the time is ripe for a big clean up and sort out.

I have moved my sewing machine and my embellisher into the one room, and finally have a proper design wall to work on. I have started working through the boxes and piles of ‘stuff’ and doing a serious cull. Where on earth did it all come from? I’ll never live long enough to use it all.

The patchwork fabrics are getting cut into 2 1/2 inch strips ready to be sewn into charity quilts. The fancy stuff I have culled to one medium size box per colour grouping – pastels/darks/cream & golds. That is still more than I will probably ever use myself – the rest I am giving away. I am quite horrified by how much stuff I have – I feel like it owns me, not the other way around. Time for action!

What do other people do? I can sew the patchwork fabrics into quilts and either keep to use, or give away, but what about the fancy stuff? I like CQ and silk ribbon embroidery, but just how many pretty things does one need? Personally, I’m not into ‘pretty things’ sitting around the place – dust catchers, my mother used to call them!

Oh well, I have to go finish my January journal quilt, which turned out not at all like I was planning, and keep clearing up my lovely new sewing room – trouble is I got waylaid on the weekend – no sooner had my lovely design wall gone up than I just had to put something on it – so merrily dragged out a pile of fabrics and started creating a simple tesselating design I’d seen in a book the day before – now it’s not like I don’t have a pile of UFOs that I could more usefully deal with – no, I had to start another one. I couldn’t help it – that big blank white design wall just had to have something on it! And this is rather bright and cheerful, don’t you think?

Embellisher play

My friend Gay in North Carolina remonstrated with me (by email) that I didn’t post often enough, so I will try and do better and manage a mid-week post or two – trouble is I don’t have much time to create mid-week because of work. Oh well, I’ll just have to try harder.

Here are a couple of ATCs I did on the embellisher. Base of commercial felt, topped with fabric, yarns, scraps etc, topped off with tulle. The blue one has a little machine work on it, the red one has no additional stitching – yet – maybe I can use that as a base for this week’s TAST challenge.

Mum’s embroidery

Typical – I don’t post for a week, then have three in one day! Oh well – I wanted to share this with you. My mother stitched this just before she was married, which was in June 1939, just before the start of WWII. This is one of a set of three embroideries on linen. She said that she wrote away to a magazine for them – I think she said they were free, you just had to write in and ask, and they came with embroidery threads. The designs are printed on in blue – you might be able to just see the outline of the cloud – click on the picture for a bigger size view, it will be quite clear then. If you look closely, you will also see the faint outline of a third dove directly below the one in her hand – I don’t know if Mum forgot to embroider that one, or decided it was a bit too busy, so left it out.

She has used buttonhole for the orangey flowers in the lower right hand corner, and for the lace down the back of the girl’s dress and on the sleeves. The rest of the stitches are detatched chain, french knots, straight and stem.

The other two in the set are a fishing village scene with boats bobbing in the harbour – looks like Cornwall; and a typical thatched cottage set in a cottage garden with a path leading to the front door. I am glad there are three of them, as I have three daughters, so will leave one to each as a memento of their grandmother, Yvonne Messervy Barrett, 1919-2000.

Here is a photo of her and my father on their wedding day.
And here is the last photo I took of her, six months before she died, on New Year’s Eve, 2000.

She was always sewing, embroidering, knitting, crocheting – Thanks Mum.

Hedebo stick and ring

Well of course as soon as I mentioned Hedebo sticks I just had to go off and find the one my husband made. This was his first attempt, and actually, it isn’t quite right. The rebate, or depth of the ridges (or whatever the proper technical term is) isn’t deep enough, so the rings slide off. Although once he understood what the problem was he duly went back to The Shed and made one exactly right – except I haven’t got that one, as I gave it to my friend Annette who started this all off in the first place, wanting to make Hedebo daffodils. This one is 13cm long.
I used the very bottom of the stick where it widens out to the handle to make this ring. I haven’t quite got it right where I ended off (at about 9 o’clock) – maybe I needed one more stitch, or maybe the tension where I started and finished isn’t quite right. This is 1.7cm across (1.1cm across the inside)

I think these little guys have potential, especially combined with machine stitched rings using the Flower Stitcher foot , and maybe some free form rings stitched on Romeo – I think I will file that thought away in my ‘things to explore further’ file. I know what I can call the finished piece – going around in circles – although I am more inclined to go off on tangents- hmmm, I think I see a theme emerging for my 2007 Journal Quilts – the first of which I haven’t made yet, but I have until 31 January, and I hate to waste a good deadline!

TAST week 2 – Buttonhole/blanket stitch

Here is my little piece for week 2. Pre-felts embellished onto some upholstery fabric, blanket stitched with three strands of Wildflowers variegated silk thread. I had an offline discussion with Sharon B about the difference between buttonhole and blanket stitch. According to some traditions there isn’t any, but to others, there is. This link illustrates it quite well.

Right at the end of the post it mentions Hedebo embroidery. For more info on that, check here
I think I took a lesson in this once – it is very precise (read, tedious!), so naturally, I didn’t get very far with it. But a friend of mine was interested in the potential of those little rings, so my husband, who is a woodworker, made her a ring stick like the one illustrated and she made beautiful little 3-D flowers using the end of the stick to fashion little ‘cups’ which became daffodils – unfortunately she doesn’t have a blog (in fact, she does’t have a computer!), so I can’t show you.

I hope to get a couple of other pieces done later today, but at least I have done something!
BTW I have found upholstery samples to be a good source of backgrounds to embellish on, using my Janome Xpressions – I can pick up big bags of samples from the local furnishings store for a couple of dollars. This one is that sort of faux velvet stuff used in upholstery – the sample pack had a whole range of colours, sort of like a colour wheel, with at least six different shades of green and the pieces are about A4 size, so quite useful.

A late addition to TAST

My husband cooked dinner tonight, so I found time to do that bit of shadow work I wanted – except at the last minute, I decided to do it a bit differently – cut the leaf shape out of silk organza using a fine tipped soldering iron, then backed the fabric with Romeo water soluble and stitched across that. There is a piece of greeny silk behind as backing.

Take a Stitch Tuesday

Well, I dutifully started off by doing a piece on a counted thread base in the traditional sampler format, and nearly DIED of boredom. Now I remember why I don’t do cross-stitch – oh, the tedium, put the needle in this hole, bring it out in that one, count how many in between – aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!
As you can see, by the last row, I was really starting to lose it and thought, bugger it, I’ll put that needle in and bring it out wherever I damn well want to – so there.
So I think that will be the last of my attempts at the traditional sampler approach.

My next attempt was using herringbone to embellish a watercolour felted background landscape – much preferred this approach. I also wanted to do a piece using herringbone on sheers a la shadow embroidery – but got caught up in preparing a welcome home dinner for the prodigal daughter who just returned from six weeks in the USA – so didn’t get to it, but I think I still will.

I wonder what next Tuesday will bring??