As is seems pop-up lock-downs and self isolation are going to be with us for a while yet I thought it was about time I did something positive, rather than just sitting back and waiting for the 'new normal' to arrive. So, after a lot of thinking and trialling different things I am about to start online classes.
To begin with I am going to start with my tried and tested Sunflower Bowl class.
This class is one of my favourites and will definitely be suitable for online teaching. I have tried a few online classes myself lately and unfortunately not all of them have been terribly satisfactory, ok maybe, but not the best. So I wanted to make sure that the classes I teach online are ones which will work and give everyone who participates an enjoyable time and leave them feeling it was worthwhile.
After the success of the 12 Days of Christmas Block-a-Month class I taught last year I am once again teaming up with the lovely people at Midsomer Quilting to offer this class to individuals. It will be a live one-day class with demos by me along with friendly chat, lots of questions and answers and a few laughs along the way. There are two dates on offer next month - Wednesday 9th September and Sunday 13th September - so not too long to wait either! I'm limiting it to 10 participants per class to make sure that everyone has a chance to talk and ask questions and we can keep it as friendly as possible.
The classes will work like this:
It is important to note that this is not a sew-along class. I will be demonstrating the step-by-step process of creating the sunflower bowl from fabric and stiff interfacing. You will then make the bowl in your own time, either the same day or at some time in the future.
The class will be taught using the Zoom platform and will be recorded. All participants will receive a copy of the recordings as soon as possible after the demos, (hopefully there will only be a 20 minute or so delay to allow for uploading) which you can watch as many times as you wish. (But please note, after two weeks the recordings will expire on the server.)
The class will be broken into 3 sessions, all on the same day, so nobody gets square eyes. There will be 2 sessions in the morning (with a built in tea break) and 1 at the end of the day, to give everyone a chance to review what they have done. It will also be an opportunity to share (if you wish) and to ask any more questions, swap ideas and maybe even set up a closed Facebook /Whatsapp group.
On the date you choose you will join the Zoom class (starting at 10am) and watch me demonstrating live. You will be able to interact with me and other participants, asking questions as I work. It will be a fun and relaxed class, not quite like being in the same room as everyone else, but the next best virus-free thing!
The only thing I ask of you is that you know how to join the Zoom class (you click on a link in an email I send you) and to be able to mute and un-mute yourself. Its pretty straightforward.
More details of how the day will run can be found in a booklet I have drawn up which you can view by clicking on the black button below.
If this sounds like something that you would like to try then please visit the Midsomer Quilting website and book you place. (Link to booking page below). De from Midsomer has also very kindly put together a kit for us that has the fabric, freezer paper and interfacing that you need to make the set of sunflower bowls which can be bought online for £12 (inc p&p) from their website. De will post it out to you in time for your class. However, the kit is not a requirement, so if you already have what you need you can use that instead (Requirements list is in the booklet).
A link to the class booking page on the Midsomer Quilting website is below. You can also order your kit here too if you decide to purchase one:
If this is a success, and I don't see why it wont be, then I will look at converting some of my other classes into online events, so watch this space!
If your Guild or group would be interested in this as a full day class then please do get in touch and we can plan together how to get back to enjoying ourselves again.
Thanks for reading.
If you went to Festival of Quilts, I hope you had a lovely time. As usual there was lots of excellent work to see, old and new friends to meet, and a hint of controversy too.
My mum and I spent a great weekend together and came away with lots of ideas and a little bit of shopping too. One of our favourite galleries was that belonging to Russian artist Lyubov Lezhanina. (Click on her name for a link to her Facebook page). It was tucked away right in the back corner, so if you didn't get down there, here are some photographs of her wonderful work.
And now back to work....
On October 2nd I have a new 'Further Techniques' workshop coming up at Midsomer Quilting where we will be taking a more considered approach to some of the ideas used in the original 'Techniques 1' workshop. The aim of the new workshop is to add surface design to large pieces of fabric in order to create a co-ordinated collection that can be used to create a unique art quilt.
Not only is is an interesting little creature to look at, it is also a very simple shape with some interesting marks which will transfer nicely as a lino block.
To start the block I made a very simple drawing of the shapes I wanted to carve. You can see that there is no detail here - just the outlines of some vaguely moth shaped creatures and some lines giving the idea of movement. (Please ignore the faint beetle and ant shapes in pencil - this is a recylced piece of paper and they have nothing to do with the moths)
This is what I intend to carve into the piece of 'lino' (I like to use a soft plastic type material as a substitute for lino as it is much easier to cut into and doesn't crumble like lino can if it gets cold or dries out). The moth shapes will remain whole on the block and the lino material all around them will be carved away.
Using a very soft pencil I traced the outlines then transferred them onto the lino block, ready to carve.
You can see the smudgy pencil outlines of the moth shapes and also see where I have started to carve into the block, taking out the green plastic material with the cutting blade. However, it is already starting to get a little confusing as to what should be carved away and what should remain, so I took a black marker pen and coloured in all the areas I want to stay. That way I hope I wont make any mistakes and carve out a section that should stay. Once it is gone, it is gone and there isn't a lot that can be done!
I hope this photo makes it all clearer. The black sections will be left alone for the time being, and all the green areas need to be carved away with the cutting tool. All those little grooves that remain in the carved away section produce beautiful graphic marks on your prints, so don't try and make it all super smooth.
SAFETY FIRST: If you try this then you MUST only ever carve away from yourself. That blade is super sharp and not only does it really hurt when you slip and stick it into yourself, it goes in deeply too and there will be a lot of blood and maybe tears. You need quite a lot of pressure to carve into the lino so accidents, which do happen, are not nice.
Make sure the hand which is holding the lino block is never in front of the hand holding the carving tool. Although this sounds obvious, it is easy to forget and let that free hand hold the block in such a way as to almost guarantee you will get cut. Turn the lino block often to make sure you are always cutting away from yourself and your free hand.
It took about half an hour to carefully carve away all the green material around the black shapes, and the block was ready to have its first trial to see what else was needed to add interest. Using a roller and some printing ink I inked up the block and made a trial print onto a piece of scrap paper. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of this very first print, but once I could see how it looked I wiped the block clean with a tissue and carved a little more removing areas where I wanted more definition and where I wanted more detail. This is the print I made next.
You can see it is not a good print, but the purpose of this one was simply to see how the extra detail I added looked. The moth on the right was looking more like a wasp with the marks I carved into the wing sections - so I knew I needed to cut some more into that area to sort out that problem. But I do like the small straight lines I made in the body of the moth on the left.
After that I made a further trial print. The photo below shows this and the ink and roller I used to ink up the lino block. Again, it is a terrible print, but it showed me enough detail of the marks I had cut into the lino. I still don't like the waspy looking one though. Those lines on the wings are all wrong. I'll have to work on that some more.
Here is the finished block - still a bit wet after washing off the ink under the tap.
And here are two of the early prints in my sketchbook. I have added a little colour to the one on the left with Markal oilstick. I had intended working onto it with watercolour paint and pencils - but I have discovered that the new ink I have purchased is not permanent once dry and so is pretty useless for my purposes! Aagh!! The moment any water touches the print the black ink smears all over the place and not only ruins the print, but turns everything black. So choose your ink carefully, or use acrylic paint which also works well, and is permanent once dry.
I will work on this block some more, make some better prints and then print up some nice fabric to share in a few weeks time. If you decide to have a try at lino cutting, and it is great fun, please do take care. Put your work onto a non-slip mat or a whole newspaper (to protect your table in case of slips) and remember to keep your free hand behind the cutting tool!
Thanks for reading.
Trying out Terial Magic
To see how it worked I took a few pieces of cotton quilting fabric from my scraps bag and sprayed them until they were moist. Following the demonstration on the Terial Magic website (click here) I put my fabric into a small tub and sprayed it. Once it was quite moist I squished it about a bit to make sure the liquid had penetrated throughout the whole piece, and then squeezed out the excess liquid (I put this back into my bottle).
After smoothing it out I left it to air dry on a flat surface for the 15 minutes stated. After this time it was still very wet - it was a winter's day in the UK, so not very warm - so I left it for around another 20 minutes of so, by which time it was only just damp. Obviously the temperature plays an important part in this, so use your judgment.
NOTE:At this stage the fabric was slightly stiff, but not noticeably different to when I had started.
I then took the fabric pieces and ironed them, as per the instructions. I used a hot iron directly on the fabric (no ironing sheet) and the heat obviously had an effect, as the fabrics became smooth, very crisp and stiff. There was no residue on the iron and no flakes or 'gunge' on the fabric.
According to the blurb that comes with Terial Magic these are two of the drawbacks of using starch. Another thing they mention is that insects like to eat the starch and therefore your fabric. I must say that I have never noticed this, but I am not a regular 'starch user'(!) so I am not able to say whether this is an issue or not. They also say the stiffener in Terial Magic is not edible by insects - so if this is important to you it may influence your choice.
What to do with this stiffened fabric
The stiffened fabric was interesting.
It folds crisply - just like thin card, so if you have a project that needs firm creases or needs to stand without support this may be a good product to use.
I tried a few origami ideas...
The crispness of the fabric made it perfect for folding techniques. I can imagine it would also be particularly good when piecing small, fiddly shapes or pieces cut on a bias.
Origami links for the above
For the folded dress, click here
For the yo-yo hexie, click here
Next I tried some needle turn applique
And then I tried stitching some raw edged leave to a piece of fabric
The stiffness of the leaves made it easy to position them on the fabric and the raw edges, once again, did not fray.
The blurb also says you can use the stiffened fabric for machine embroidery without and further stabiliser. As I don't have an embroidery unit I can't let you know about that - but if anyone does and has experience of this product it would be good to find out if the claims are true.
So - do I like Terial Magic? Yes, I think I do. It is similar to starch, but has a nicer feel, doesn't gunk up my iron and the treated fabric is nicer to stitch. I don't often need fabric that is stiff or crisp, but when I do I think this product would be a useful addition to the tools I already use. Thanks De - when I run out I will be buying another bottle from you!
Now for those Doodle birds!
These are a few pictures I took during the workshop at Midsomer quilting last weekend. Brilliant aren't they?
And how about these two amazing Doodle Poodles? My thanks to Chris D who was so inspired when she got home that she made these two fantastic pieces. I just love them! Thanks for sharing them, Chris, I think you have cracked free motion quilting!
I hope you have enjoyed seeing all this brilliant free motion work. Thanks for looking.
Nesting flower bowls - they just keep getting more beautiful
It has been flower power all the way form me this past week.
It started on Wednesday with the ladies from the Wiltshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Quilters in Steeple Ashton
Then on Saturday and Sunday I was at Midsomer Quilting - creating even more fabulous flowers. I think we made enough to fill a whole florists, and not only that - we can all smile and know that the future of quilting is going to continue. The age range of the people at the workshops this week spanned from age 9 to ............... well, more than 21!
I think you will agree - they all look amazing. What I love the most is that no two bowls look the same. There are so many ways they can be varied; just by changing the colour from yellow to white - a sunflower can be transformed into a daisy. By changing the thread colour the visual texture alters the flower; smoothly stitched free motion lines make a gentle, delicate flower, whereas bold embroidery stitches make for a vibrant, flashy bloom. There is lots of room to experiment and try new ideas.
If you would like more information on this and other workshops, please click here
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the fun we all had this week.
Thanks for reading.
Since everyone at the workshop was already an accomplished quilter the quality of the finished work was excellent and lots of ideas were explored.
Thank you to Maureen, Liz, Birgitta, Chantal, Ann, Del, Sheila, Diane, Maureen, Liz, Barbara, Alison and Steve for a great day.
Here are some pictures of the day as it unfolded
Lunch was followed by...... more cake!
Exploring layers of transparent fabrics and different colour choices
Some of the semi-finished pieces
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the fabulous work the ladies of Hardy Quilters created. It was a great day with lots of experimentation and exploration with the techniques of faux trapunto, free motion quilting and the layering of transparent fabrics. Thanks, ladies. I would love to see your pieces when they are finished.
Doodling v Drawing
Let's just clear one thing up.
Doodling is not the same thing as formally drawing.
A doodle is a drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. So, if I sit down and focus on just drawing, then that is a drawing. To be a doodle I am drawing, but not really thinking about it.
Doodling has a bad reputation
Now - when I was in school, doodling was severely frowned upon as being a waste of time , or even worse, proof that you were not concentrating. How wrong they were!!! Recent studies by Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth have come to my rescue and give scientific proof (obviously the best kind) that doodling is NOT the product of a wandering mind, but, in fact, the complete opposite! Doodling is not my mind 'daydreaming' but rather a way to force it to stay focussed on the present.
In fact, much like chocolate and red wine, doodling has benefits. Who knew?
So what, exactly, are these benefits?
Doodles and Quilting
Which brings me on to my latest project: Doodle Birds. I am actually revisiting a technique which I tried out about 5 years ago, early on in my ventures into Free Motion Quilting. I decided I wanted to get better at FMQ - and there is nothing like a bit of practice to see improvements. It all began with a doodled bird.................... and this is where I have ended up.
It takes time and patience to create a Doodle Bird, but it has improved my FMQ enormously. If you think you would like improve your FMQ then why not give one a try? I will be teaching a workshop at Midsomer Quilting in Somerset on 14th November, but why wait? Get out a pen and some scrap paper, phone a friend and go for it! What have you got to lose?
For more info on the workshop click here.
Here are some pictures of the great work in progress.
The techniques we used included:
fused raw edge applique
using soluble thread
free motion quilting
layering transparent fabrics
cutting away fabrics to reveal lower layers
creating a net from thick thread
The workshop was quite intensive, and we didn't manage to complete the whole quilt in a day, as I had hoped. But everyone had a great time, and people who had never stitched free motion quilting before all had great success in stitching the scales onto their fish. It is always such a pleasure to see people learn something new.
Thanks so much for looking!
'The ones that got away' Midsomer Quilting, May 16th and 17th 2015
The original version of this quilt, 'Sardine Run', was on display at Radstock Museum earlier this year. Following lots of very nice feedback from visitors, Chris from Midsomer Quilting has asked me to run two one day courses next year, teaching the techniques I used to make it.
Given that the original quilt took a few weeks to make, I decided to design a smaller version for the courses that can be completed in one day. I don't know about you, but generally, when I go on a course I feel much more satisfied when I know I have something that is mostly completed. Obviously it depends on the type of course, but for me, what turns a good course into great one is knowing I have learned as many new skills and techniques as I need to finish the piece of work.
With this design my aim is that you will go home happy!
If you would like to learn the techniques I used to make this quilt then please contact De*** at Midsomer Quilting on 01761 239333 to book your place.
I look forward to seeing you.
***De has very kindly offered to put together a kit with small pieces of a variety of suitable fabrics and other embellishments should you wish to purchase that. It might work out to be more economical to buy the kit as you need a lot of small pieces of net, organza, cotton fabric etc. Speak with De for more details closer to the date of the course if you wish to have one.***