Two Posts in One Day..Whatever Next

Okay so heres my catch up post..we had an amazing week here in Ireland a month ago as it was National Quilting Week here and the group that I am involved with, apart from the Irish Patchwork Society held an amazing exhibition at St Mathews Church in Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow.

The church looked amazing and very kind of St Mathews to let our group use the venue. So here was our special visitor one evening, none other than Ricky Tims himself. He was over with a group for quilting week. Everyone ahd a great time, he was socharming and even signed Moiras Ricky Tims book!

All the girls and Ricky Tims

All the girls and Ricky Tims

Here are some of the pictures I took of the church and the exhibition.

Quilts on Pews

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Defining the AIDS quilt as Craftivism

  NAMES Project Foundation Quilt

I came across this thought provoking article by Cherisse Brown.. I had heard of the Names Project Foundation and the quilt made in memory of loved ones who had died from AIDS. The label CRAFTIVISM is an interesting concept – I feel that creative energy and action to change the political and social landscape for good has be a positive and challenging process.

CherisseBrown

Regarding the differences between working in paint and working in embroidery to me it is easy to suggest that this gigantic quilt not only draws on traditional American folk arts of quilting but in its tactile, homely nature provokes a stronger response from the viewer. The symbolic nature of a quilt is that of a blanket, one which offers comfort. This community act helps to draw millions of people together over one significant issue of AIDS and the LGBT’s community. The quilt enabled this community to stand as one, representing themselves as one voice to be heard and noticed, fulfilling the speech of Milk where he said they needed to ‘tell the truths about gays’. As the quilt grows and grows it represents something which is completely beyond the capability of one individual, once again emphasising the need to stand together as one voice and one community to be taken…

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Building Blocks

I have sadly neglected my blog of late – we have been so busy with all our animals here at Casa Davies , and I have had to concentrate on quilting in my spare time..which got me thinking..does anyone else have huge problems fitting all their blocks together for the final quilt?

I sometimes see a great pattern and just cant decide about the colour combinations or where and how to place blocks on the quilt. or I think I can improve on it (!) For example I decided to make a small quilt, similar to the one I had seen in Alex Andersons book on wallquilts. So I lay all the blocks out on the floor and decided to play with them..ImageSo it sat on the floor for 3 days while I played about with what i thought was my new design and nothing was working..Big frustration! In the end I went back to the original pattern which had broken up the blocks using two horizontal lines between the top and middle blocks- the spacing really helped to creat a bit of visual tension (along with my own for being so darned stubborn in the first place)

here is the finished piece ..Image

it sure looks pretty different from how I started!! What do you think?

Elephants in Wexford

Well no ..not real ones just on my quilt!!

I was online at one of my favourite places to buy fabric online www.fabricshack.com  

Well I was looking through all the fabrics for a childs quilt- even though mine have flown the nest and no grandchildren on the ground yet! I found this amazing funky fabric by Valori Wells there and I just had to buy it, but how to make a quilt out of very large animals??

Fabric by Valori Wells for Fresspirit Fabrics

Fabric by Valori Wells for Fresspirit Fabrics

I didnt even know what I was going to do but just loved these elephants..so my first design was born. That was such fun and many scribbles and overwrites. I thought if I cut out the Elephants using Bondaweb and appliqued them onto blocks along with star blocks it might work.

Embroidery panel hooped up and ready to go!

Embroidery panel hooped up and ready to go!

So I found some similar fabrics on the floor behind everything else and was thinking- the elephants are pretty, I thought the stars would need something extra, so I tried a few  embroidery patterns that might fit within the block on my embroidery machine.

I had an idea to blend machine embroidery with the blocks so this is what I came up with……….

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So this is what I came up for the free motion design on the star block……..

Free Motion on panel

Free Motion on panel

I found some matching Minky fabric for the back and completed all the blocks. The Minky fabric is gorgeously soft but I had used it before so didnt want to do anything to complex in the way of free motion quilting. it is a bit heavy for me to drag around on the machine but makes beautiful sculptural designs.

Minky Fabric on the Back

Minky Fabric on the BackAnd this is my finished Funky Elephant Quilt……………………..

And this is it finished , my Funky Fanta Elephant Quilt …..

Finished Quilt

Finished Quilt

I was so glad to get this finished, and folded up…no grandchildren to give it to yet though!! I am trying to find time to get on with my next project now although DH has promised me a revamp of my sewing room next week or so- its our spare bedrooma t the moment and I am working round a double bed and all the extras..have been promised a wooden floor and a sofa bed..Whoohoo!!!

Old versus New

It’s funny, but when, I started to think about writing a blog..all of this technology was new to me, so I figured I would be writing quite a bit about my quilting projects as a newbie to quilting and sewing. Of course I am going to do this as well, and decided to document some of my disasters as well with my new friend the stitch ripper!

However, I have been on one of the sewing machine forums for the Janome 7700- a machine I bought last year and absolutely love. Anyway the consensus is that now, Janome are to bring out an upgrade for the 7700 with all new bells and whistles. I don’t have much detail on it yet, I think its in the ‘to be announced’ category for the Autumn/Fall.

Well this got me to thinking about all the technological advances in sewing machines and I am wondering what you all thought of the leaps there have been in technology for machines. The first machine I remember is my grandmothers Singer Treadle machine which I grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s. They are now called Antique! Anyway picture on the right is what I remember. My gran could make anything from curtains to quilts on it and all the clothes  in between . I would often remember seeing her sit for hours making things, hearing the whirr of the treadle as she pushed it to its limits. She could make it hum! And wherever we lived, it came with her, it was her most prized possession and always occupied a seat of honour in our house.

I can remember when the first electric machines became mainstream into stores in England too..this picture   holds quite a lot of memories for me as when i was 19 I got a job working for Jones in London, demonstrating their machines. It was crazy-I had left school, working my way towards college, and I literally walked in off the street with no prior experience of selling anything, and a very rudimentary knowledge of sewing. Certainly never seen an electric machine in my life. So I started demonstrating machines like the one in the picture..and they were cutting edge (pardon the pun) at the time. The machines were very brightly coloured, especially the hard carrying case of the Jones, Britain was just coming out of post-war austerity, everything before the mid sixties almost looked grey as far as I can remember it anyway, and then there were these huge splashes of colours in everything. Not just clothes and decor but in products as well. Design was becoming not just functional but appealing to the eye as well.

Jones was an interesting company to work for..originally british, were bought out by Brother in the late 60’s I think, but as there was quite a lot of negative press regarding Japanese made goods at the time, they kept the British name for a couple of years.So I started work in London. Hire Purchase was also a new construct then as well, but if ladies wanted a machine, they had to bring their husbands into the store to sign the loan agreement. Can you imagine that happening now??

Customer service was also good too – I remember selling a machine to a couple who were staying in London for a few days and the company made me take the machine to their hotel in Kensington, I had to travel on the underground with the machine and all the other bits, to their hotel after I had finished work and set it up for them and show them how it worked.They were so pleased, I even got tea and cake from them in the hotel!

So now I have to roll forward to 2011!! It’s been that long since I used a machine! I decided to buy one last year and the first one I bought for just basic stitching was the Janome CXL 301- which is this fellow on the right. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw it. The only thing I recognised was the foot pedal!! I didn’t know how to thread it or use the controls, it seemed more like using a computer accessory with all the buttons. But I loved it. The  manual was Ok and I managed to work it out eventually. I even made my first quilt on it using Alex Andersons quilt book for beginners. I wasn’t easy, just a rail fence design but I was so pleased to complete it.

So now I am fast forwarding 3 months from my original purchase. Hubby decided I should have a really neat Birthday/Christmas present and I phoned my dealer up to ask about quilting machines…more bells and whistles! So it was a choice between the 6600 and the 7700. I picked the latter because of the wider throat plate and when i tried them both out I just fell in love with it somehow. Of course she is not an ‘it’ anymore. My dealer was great and I had to put in my beloved 301 as a trade in and he gave me the purchase price of her off the 7700, which was great. This is one amazing machine. I found she quilts superbly,makes my free motion  quilting look far better.

There are a couple of things I don’t care for but that could be just a personal preference.  I don’t like the fact there is no low bobbin reminder, which would be a really good idea, there is no built-in or optional magnifier ( I hear the new Janome will have this). But have to say, that for increasing and decreasing stitch length, I find the touch screen not at all intuitive, I would prefer a wheel or button! What does that say about me I wonder, is that just an age thing or do other folk with this machine find it hard as well. Do you get used to the touch screen eventually?

I love the automatic thread cutter button, the lights, the zillion stitches that I havent even got to grips with yet. Oh yes and all the feet that come with it as standard.The power and graduation of speed is flawless as well all the other things.Regular home maintenance seems to be key here also, I really have to clean out the are around the bobbin regularly. I have got to listen to the sound of my machine now and when she starts to sound a bit ‘throaty’ I know its time to clean, if I haven’t done so before.

It seems to me that technology have really taken over in every area of life, even our machines.I often wonder what our grandmother’s would have thought of the new machines like the  Janome 7700. Not just an electric machine ,but stitches that are fully programmable and automated  at the press of a button. I know we have machines nowadays that do so much more than plain straight stitch but what do you think about the way technology is adding to the functionality of sewing machines? How far can manufacturers refine our machines to make them better. Will they be lighter machines in the future that can do so many things, rather like computers now that are lighter and smaller and have limitless capabilities. I for one will be very interested to see the new Janome this Autumn and what is being offered in way of improvements, functionality and design. They are amazing machines!

Phew!! I didnt expect to write as much as that!!