Sunday, 30 September 2012

Foraged flowers

After our quilt show, I was able to take home one of the table displays that Barbara made to decorate our refreshment area. Two weeks later, the flowers have died off but the foliage still has some life left in it. It seemed a waste to throw it away so yesterday I set myself the challenge of creating a new display using only foraged items. I have to admit thinking I'd probably have to supplement my finds with some bought flowers: I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

My favourite find was this chocolate cosmos. I was loath to cut off the flowers as they had taken so long to emerge this summer. However, the seed heads were just as lovely and interesting.

Eventually, from a forage around mine and my parent's gardens I gathered: rudbeckia, lavender, rosemary, aster, aubretia, berberis, hypericum and skimmia. One of these (I think it was the hypericum) gave off a lovely orangey scent as I was trimming.

And here's the finished display on my fireplace. I'm no florist but I think this is pretty good! But then I couldn't really go wrong with such lovely materials to work with.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

My quilt show entries

In Welcome to the Show! I teased you with mentions of the quilts I'd entered into our exhibition. Well, I'm embarrassed to admit there weren't many. I think I've said before that my quilting has been neglected lately so I only had three small items to submit.

The first was part of the button-up group challenge. Did you guess which was mine? It's in the middle row on the far left. 

We were all given two pieces of fabric - mine were the coral (behind the fan) and the dragonfly batik. Every block had to contain at least one of these fabrics, plus any others of our choosing from a limited colour palette. We were also given an A3 pattern of the layout. Other than these restrictions, we were free to use whatever themes, designs or techniques we wished. As you can see, my blocks include a mixture of foundation-piecing and machine applique.

This is my favourite block. I'm pretty sure the pattern was from Quilters Newsletter Magazine.

My next entry was again a group challenge: the teabag quilts. These were so-named because we were all given a teabag to dye a plain piece of calico. The challenge also specified the dimensions and that the only other colour must be red.

I'd been looking for an opportunity to have a go at the folded flowers in Kumiko Sudo's book, Fabled Flowers. Although I worked on some other ideas, this was the one I kept coming back to.

The flower pattern I used is Clematis and I also used the Akebia Sashiko design in the same book.

My final entry was this one, 'Drunk on Batik', inspired by 'Oilslick' by Susan Iacuone in the book Quiltskills. I have to confess here that the quilt was actually made several years ago but had never been exhibited. It could really do with more quilting which I intend to do in that mystical and probably imaginary period called 'some day'.

And that's it. Three years since the last exhibition and that's all I could muster. Note to self: must try much harder for next time. In fact, since then, I've started working on Chickpea's quilt and am determined to complete it. If I aim to sew at least one length of thread a few times a week, it might just be finished for Christmas. Doesn't sound so daunting when you say it like that.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Visitors' choice

The public has voted and I was really pleased to see just how many of the quilts got a vote: testimony to the wonderful work of the ladies in Bolton Quilters.

The winners were separated by only a few votes. And, in traditional fashion, in reverse order they were:

In 3rd place: 'Commemorative Quilt' by Joyce Thornton and Kath Worthington. The quilt was designed and made by the members of Holy Trinity Parish Church for their Dreaming Dreams project. The names of church members are hand-embroidered on the blocks.

In 2nd place: 'Floriade' by Jacqueline Martin. This is the quilt which won Best in Show, Best Machine Applique and Best Bed Quilt at the Harrogate Show.

And in 1st place: 'Pastel Daisies' by Hilary Woodward, which was her first bed quilt. The central design was taken from a quilt by Julia Reed (though I think Julia was inspired by Lynne Edwards) but the borders were Hilary's own. She's holding the crystal bowl which is presented to the winner of Visitors' Choice.

Of course, we all have our favourites, and this was mine: 'Leaves in the Breeze' by Lise Payne, from a Piece O'Cake design.

Hope you enjoyed this visit to our show. See you again in 3 years?

Next time, I'll reveal my entries for the show.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Welcome to the Show

Bolton Quilters welcome you to our 5th Exhibition. Come in and I'll show you around.

First into the main hall where we have the large quilts. This is 'Wedding Quilt' by Ann Dwyer, made for her grandson and his wife.

'Morris and Custard' is Jacqueline Martin's interpretation of William Morris. The blue ribbons were won at the Harrogate quilt show last year (and I wish I'd taken a photo so I could remember what they were for).

I also wish I'd made a note of who this was by (I'll add her name when I find out).

This beauty was definitely made by Vivien Thornton. 'Bears Paw and Flying Geese' was made for her mother who sadly didn't live to see it completed.

OK, let's head to the hall downstairs. On the way, we'll stop to admire this button-up quilt which was the group challenge last year. We were all given a pack containing two fabrics and strict instructions on which additional colours we could add. One of these is mine - can you guess which one?

The downstairs hall is busy with demonstrations, traders and the smaller quilts and quilted items.

The long narrow quilts were also a group challenge, inspired by a similar challenge by Stalybridge Ps & Qs. We were all given a teabag to dye some calico and instructions to use only red as the other fabric. Our quilts were entered in the Harrogate quilt show in 2010. Again, one of these is mine.

Quilters don't just make quilts. Here's a selection of toys, a box, placemats and coasters.

And another group challenge, set by Elizabeth who specified round, with only black and white fabrics with one other colour.

Back down in the hall, there are some small quilts to admire. I love the colours and the fabrics in this one.

This is 'Sweet Pea Wall Hanging' by Kath Worthington.

Look at how realistic the flowers are!

Now let's make our way to the Christmas room where the table is laid for dinner. Does the music make you feel festive?

These were part of the Christmas 'Add a row' challenge. I think by now you can tell that our group is big on challenges!

Jackie made a complete Nativity set of these dolls.

Sadly, the Christmas room is the end of our show. Hope you enjoyed your visit. Why not have another look round while you wait for the results of Visitors' Choice? I'll give you the results next time.

PS. I'll reveal which quilts were mine in a future post.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Recipe for a quilt show

Yesterday my quilt group held its fifth show. We've learned a lot over the years about how to keep the visitors happy. So, what is the recipe for a successful quilt show? Here's a few ideas.

Interesting displays to draw the eye. Small displays fill those awkward gaps and give a professional finish.

Provide gentle reminders not to fondle the fabric (like this one, made by yours truly). But have white gloves ready for a closer look.

Music to enhance the atmosphere and for some impromptu dancing. Yes, really! I spotted more than one lady shimmying by!

The chance to win some gorgeous hand-crafted goodies. Our bag tombola always has a queue of excited hopefuls.

Demonstrations of different techniques: Julian does the most beautiful hand quilting. I had to say that because he said he would be reading this!

Demonstrations of other interesting crafts are always welcome too. Barbara showed how to make ribbon flowers using a shredding tool.

A Visitor's Choice award so everyone can express their appreciation.

And finally, refreshments. No-one goes hungry at one of our shows!

But what's that you say? Something missing? A vital ingredient?

Oh yes, of course. Don't forget the quilts. Lots and lots of quilts.

Why don't you stay and I'll show you around.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Button switch

I recently bought a shift dress from Tesco in a lovely jade green. It looks great on and the fabric is of decent quality. The only thing which lets it down are the tacky gold buttons.

I dislike gold buttons anyway. These might have been redeemed if they'd had some kind of detail but no, they're completely plain. The buttons had to go. First I raided Mum's button tin but couldn't find anything suitable.

A trip to John Lewis uncovered these unusual rose swirl buttons. Ridiculously expensive but they would add the unique touch I was looking for.

Interestingly, I told the shop assistant what the buttons were for and she said she often does the same thing with shirts from Primark: good buttons make the whole outfit look more expensive.

And this is what the button looks like on the dress - much better. I like the idea of adding my own touch to something, no matter how small.

And this is me doing my best Victoria Beckham model pose. Me and Chickpea had a lot of fun trying to get a decent shot though the neighbours must have thought we were a bit mad!

I wore the dress at work for the first time this week and was amazed to get several compliments. Even my Dad commented on it and he never notices what I'm wearing. Not bad for a £16 supermarket dress and just goes to show that you don't have to spend a fortune to look good. Must have been the buttons!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Carrot harvest

It's been a lovely Sunday, possibly one of the last nice ones before Autumn kicks in. So, time to tidy up the garden with some weeding and pruning. And also time to harvest the last of the carrots. I'd already harvested a few to use in a cake but had noticed that the rest were slowly being eaten away.

The slugs have munched their way down leaving behind a perfect empty husk. If it wasn't so annoying, I'd probably find it fascinating and strangely beautiful. As it is, if I wasn't quick, there'd be nothing left to harvest.

This is what emerged from the pot. A few extra weeks of growing time didn't make any difference to the size, with the longest being a mere 10cm. In the past I've had ones which were 10 inches (26cm)! Oh well, at least there's enough for a meal. Fingers crossed for a better growing season next year.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Harrogate Quilt Show

I've been neglecting my quilting of late. Pressures of work and other interests mean I have less time. I'm also in the middle of hand quilting a double 'Grandmother's flower garden' for Chickpea and I'm losing the will to live. There are 56 of these flowers and I have 17 to go plus the border.

What's needed is a trip to a quilt show to remind me why I fell in love with quilting in the first place. The Great Northern Quilt Show at Harrogate is a chance to renew my enthusiasm. Me and a couple of friends from our quilt group go every year. It's a 1.5 hour journey and we pass through some lovely countryside, including seeing these domes at RAF Menwith Hill which look like gigantic golf balls.

First impressions? We usually go on a Sunday but this was Saturday and much busier. There was a good number of quilts but the show still inevitably suffers from being so soon after the much bigger Festival of Quilts. However, I spotted a few gems.

My first love has always been traditional and scrap quilts so 'Spanish Plates' by Christine Marriage ticked both boxes. It was longarm quilted and won a Judges Merit.

The unusual use of colour as well as the striking shapes and composition attracted me to 'In a spin' by Hilary Beattie. It won Overall Runner-Up, 1st Theme, and a Judge's Choice.

This caught my eye as a quilt Chickpea would love and she did. It's 'Anyone seen a dragon?' by Amanda Carter and is based on a picture by Anne Stokes.

GNQS no longer has a Visitors Choice award but if it did, this would be mine. 'Asters 2' is also by Hilary Beattie. I loved the colours, the delicacy and the multiple layers with the background asters in net and the foreground in applique. It won Art Quilt, Judges Merit and Judge's Choice.

Of course, you can't leave a quilt show without adding to your stash. I had a wishlist for a quilt I'm planning with bold patterned fabrics and was pretty restrained in sticking to that list with only a few extras thrown in.

But the highlight of the show? To our great excitement and delight, Jackie from our quilt group won three rosettes: Bed Quilt, Machine Applique and best of all, Champion Quilt!!! Well done, Jackie! For a photo, you'll have to wait for a posting in a few weeks as our group is having a quilt show of its own.

PS. I wasn't sure of the 'rules' of posting photos of other people's work on a blog. If you are the maker of any of these quilts and are unhappy at their inclusion, please let me know and I'll take down the photo.