Sorting the Dye Pots

I spent a few minutes sorting out my procion dyes this evening. They used to live in two boxes on a high shelf, then as I used them more, the boxes didn’t get put away, so just got in the way.

This evening, I moved some low quality paint that I don’t use often up to the top shelf, and sorted my dyes into trays by colour palette, with the pots of powder in the same tray to make mixing easier.

 This let me see which dyes I needed to mix a fresh batch of – apparently I love turquoise, orange and coral sand. Ice blue and old gold are new additions after the Hilary Beattie retreat in July.

And this is the dye trays, labelled, in pride of place next to my paints. I have a couple of spare trays, and I am hoping to learn more dye techniques on our Embroiderers’ Guild branch workshop with Edwina Mackinnon in November. The only problem I have now is that I have run out of pots.

Moka Pots – Quilting the Focal Points

I got my sewing machine back from repair today, and it is much better. I finished machine quilting the focal points, and I’m pleased with it so far:

This is the piece so far. The black strips are sealing the edges of the velvet, to stop it fraying. I like it, but I will need to,include black in the hand stitching, bring the hand stitching over the edges, and go for a monochromatic border to balance it up.

My (Mostly) Coffee Pots Sketchbook

At the Bramble Patch retreat in July, I showed Hilary Beattie my little sketchbook, and she really liked it. She asked if she could borrow it to share with her Facebook and YouTube followers, as it’s a great example of a play/sketchbook for learning your materials and trying out ideas.

Hilary has now posted the video, and I thought you might like to see it, both to see the book in more detail, and also, for me at least, it is fascinating to see my work through someone else’s eyes.

Watch the video here on Hilary’s YouTube channel.
Her channel is well worth subscribing to, and you can also follow her on Facebook here. She is very generous with her thoughts and ideas.

Bumble Hole Mini-Quilt

I’m excitedly looking forward to picking my sewing machine up today; it has been serviced, the bobbin case has been replaced, and I have ordered a pack of new Janome bobbins. The non-Janome ones look so alike, but I suspect a non-Janome one was causing my problems.

So in my excitement, I have decided to spend some time this morning composing another small quilt, using the fabrics a I printed up on Bumble Hole. I only had a few fabrics printed, so I was struggling for choices, whereas I print in volume on paper, so I find the composition so much easier. I need to remember to print on fabric in the same volumes as I print on paper; I don’t really know why I don’t do it – I have a whole box of plain fabric to print on, which is now immediately by my print table. I do not have much which is ready for overdyeing (the way I work means that my fabric needs to be soaked in a soda ash solution), and that may be part of it.

So, this is the composition I have laid out:

I need to work out which bridge print I prefer for the top, as well as generally if I am satisfied with it.

Cutting Stencils – Jugs

I have a lovely pair of stamps I had cut of a beautiful silver jug I own, but as I don’t have any other stencils or stamps to go with them, it is a bit hard to make a series of artwork. Of course, I don’t need to start anything right now, as I have enough on the go already, but the lure of spending an hour cutting stencils was too strong.

So I drew and cut these 4 jugs:

A bit hard to see until they get painty! The bottom right one is based on the jug stencil, then I will cut stamps to match the rest.

The Mens’ Gymnastics final hadn’t quite finished, and I was keen to see if Max Whitlock would make it a double gold, so I passed the time cutting these strips from the stencil acetate, using pattern scissors. I think they will be good for masks on the Gelli plate.

I have got some new acetate for stencils – it is frosted on one side, so I think it is actually presentation folder covers. It’s quite thick, so should be long lasting.

Free machining and blocking

I’ve been working on the background of the coffee quilt, getting it all quilted before I put the focal points on.

Fitting in a bit of stitching in the mornings, and a good few hours on Wednesday and today, I’ve now got all the background quilting done:

I had a few problems with my machine, despite cleaning it regularly, there were still some lint buildups, and it started making a birds’ nest in the bobbin case, so I left it for a day and then re-cleaned it, and luckily it worked fine again:

The all over quilting is a checkerboard pattern of alternating squares of coffee beans and wiggly basket weave grids:

It is easier to see on this photo of the back of the quilt:

Some of the stitching is quite dense, so the piece needs blocking. You can see how distorted the middle section is here:

Here it is, all pinned out on my blocking board:

I’m looking forward to getting it off and stitching the focal points next.

Festival of Quilts Part 1

I had a wonderful day at the Festival of Quilts. Simon and I thought we had got there early enough, but the queue was massive. Luckily we got in fairly quickly and headed down to see Hilary, to say hello before she started demoing!

I took photos of the wonderful Art Textiles: Made In Britain, as well as some of my favourite competition entries, which I will share in another post, as they are on a different camera.

What I do have photos of here is my shopping. There are lots of lovely traders at FoQ, and so I topped up my supplies:

I got a holder for safely Lino cutting, a bottle of setacolour, three spools of King Tut thread in red, and two greys, some 505 spray, a couple of new rotary cutter blades (I think I have only changed the blade once since I got it in 2003!), a holder for machine bobbins, three spools of bobbin fill thread, two new Rollagraph pattern wheels, and two pieces of gorgeous Alter Ego fabrics.

The red King Tut I got is the colour I have been using on the Moka Pots quilt: to give you an idea of how much I had used, here is an old and a new spool:

It really is excellent thread for free motion stitching – the colours are really rich, the variegation is lovely, and it is very resistant to breaking. I have not had one thread breakage in all he stitching I did on the Moka Pots.

The Alter Ego fabric is destined to be the background for a pair of quilts which are in the early planning stages for next year. They do amazing hand dyed fabrics in such a wonderful range of colours. I just wanted to get them all but I had to be restrained. Here is a picture of both pieces spread out on my blocking board, so that you can see the wonderful dyeing:

Their website is here,, but they only sell at shows, so if you want to get some you will have to go to the NEC this weekend!

All in all an excellent day out, and well worth a visit if are a fan of textile art.

Free machining troubles and some book pages

I was making good progress on the Moka pots quilt. I got all the focal points bonded on:

I then started machine stitching on the newly applied focal points, when my machine made (another) terrible crunch. I took it apart to clean, and noticed this big gouge in the bobbin case:

In front of the hook.

After a bit of a glum moment, I packed the machine away, and did some hand stitching on the Bumble hole book, working with lovely perle cotton:

A lovely way to relax after the annoyance of the machine incident. I’ll take it in for a service soon.