Sunday, 30 October 2016

Free Motion Quilting - What I have learnt

As you know I love patchwork. I have made clothes and bags, but patchwork is my passion!
It all started back in 1996 when I spotted a patchwork quilt in a magazine and immediately bought a small cheep sewing machine. That fist king size quilt has pride of place in my bedroom and is still used to build dens!

Faded and worn, but a den building staple!
For  person who avoided sewing lessons at school because they were for girls that is quite an achievement!
When I started patchwork I was  determined hand quilter. I couldn't seem to get the machine to quilt in the way I wanted it to, so I stopped trying - I didn't realise I needed special feet and strong enough thread.
In 2011 that all changed when my youngest son requested a quilt for his birthday which was 3 weeks away. I undertook a self taught crash course in machine quilting. The joy of the internet is that you can find out pretty much anything and I was able to find out why my previous attempts had never worked. The quilt was finished at 2am on his birthday and he still pulls it out to snuggle under whenever he can.

The birthday quilt designed by mini.

My first attempt at free motion quilting!
So my free motion journey has been a relatively short one - especially placed in the context of the 20 years I have been making quilts. And it is a journey I have loved. In fact I often love the free motion quilting more than the patchwork.
As a sewing teacher I have taught free motion quilting to all my patchwork classes. Some students love the challenge and throw themselves in whole heartedly, whilst others give it a go and then run away screaming!
It is a hard skills to master - especially on a small domestic machine - but is one that is worth working on. My free motion is not perfect and nor do I ever expect it to be. I have the privilege of knowing that if I select a thread that matches the fabric I am working on then all of my faults will fade into the background of the quilt. They will add texture and interest. Even if the thread doesn't blend in the not so perfect pebble will look perfectly fine in a sea of not so perfect pebbles. They will all look amazing together!

'Mistakes' make up part of the whole design.

For beginner to free motion quilting this idea of just doing it, ignoring the little 'mistakes' and trusting the journey can be tough. It can cause a project to be rejected. But you must keep going, keep quilting, keep moving forward. Each time to quilt with our machine you are getting better. Each pebble will blend in with the other pebbles.  You will never reach perfection but you will create a unique quilt that will wrapped around you family and friends for many years - 20 years and counting in my household.
When in doubt - just keep quilting!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Making Changes.....

2016 so far has been a year of epic changes.... moving house and town, changing schools -twice and changing job!

As with any changes all of this has taken a toll on our family. We love where we now live in Stroud. It has taken 5 months but we finally feel at home. It is a great town with lovely walks into town and all sorts of lovely shops.

Image result for images of stroud

The rest of life is settling down, but we have had to make some changes. The boys have stopped Saturday morning activities for a little while - family time has been needed to help us all settle in.

And I have made the decision in the last 2 weeks that my creativity has taken a nose dive in the last 18 months through work pressures, teaching commitments and life! Like so many of you I can't function without being creative. It is part of my soul and without working on something creative my brain starts to suffer...... I suffer!

So..... I have decided to stop teaching. I love teaching and passing on my skills and creating fabric addicts! But I NEED to work on my own creations. I want to finish my City and Guilds, I want to create new items and I want finish my stack of half finished quilts.... I want to do something for me!

It has been a hard decision and I am heart broken to leave my students, but having made a commitment to look after myself more I feel better already.

Just some of the things I have been doing since my decision to slow down: crochet (3 blankets on the go at once), bread making and finishing the quilt top for my Tulip Medallion quilt.

Sometimes hard decisions lead to a happier life.... a hopefully a more creative life!

See you soon,

Friday, 26 August 2016

Making Progress: Quilt Design and Life

Over the last few months things have changed dramatically in the Quilting Along the Grain household!

Over the Easter break we were told we needed to leave our much loved home in Tetbury. Our landlord had decided to sell the house. Unfortunately the  rental rates in Tetbury had risen beyond my income so we had to make the heart breaking decision to leave Tetbury and start again somewhere...

After looking at our options we decided as a family that Stroud would be the best place for us - midi and mini attend groups here and maxi needs to the train line to get his new College in Swindon. As in most places rental properties appear on the internet and then disappear in hours so we were very fortunate to find a four bed Victorian terrace in our budget.

So four months on we are semi settled into our new home and life in Stroud. New schools and finding new friends has been a journey with lots of tears, but we are slowly putting down roots.

In the move I lost my beloved studio.... it really did make a weep! Now I have a very small space in my bedroom with lots of fabric in bags and equipment everywhere.

I have been focusing on the Medallion Quilt to get me through the settling in process. Sewing has always been my refuge when things around me are changing. It helps me to anchor myself when all around me is swirling.

Here is the progress I have made:

This is my new sewing area. I have managed to carve out a little space with some wall space to hang small design work. 

To the tulips I have added a round of Flying Geese and Economy Blocks in the corner.

I wanted to break up the ridged shapes with some colour so I added a layer of strips of colour.

The next layer is a round of different coloured foundation pieced stars.

I love the way that the quilt is growing and the fabrics by Blueberry Park are simply beautiful.

I think this is last layer of design and I am really excited to be entering the final phase of the patchwork design. Next to write the instructions for the quilt so I can start teaching the design in three weeks.

I hope you like it too!