Two Pieces of Scotland (And a Touch of Fake Trapunto)

Hello Everyone,

We have some unexpected mild and sunny weather here in Western Scotland at the moment, despite a few snow flurries a week or so ago. Spring really is beginning to feel closer and the snowdrops down through the garden look thicker and whiter than ever.

I have just a couple of pieces to show you today as I am trying to sort through a pile of unfinished projects. One or two went wrong, some just need a little tweak here and there, some need quilting and some need binding. After a while it gets annoying to have so many sitting about in various stages of unfinished, so it’s time to deal with a few at a time.

Even the two I am posting here have been in the pipeline for over a year. I am amazed how long it takes me to finish something. I think that it’s down to having too many pieces at different stages at the same time. However, I see from posts on an online EPP group I joined, that this is nothing unusual. We all seem to get excited about the next project and make a start on it before we have finished the one we are already working on. From now on I am going to start fewer projects at one time, with a view to finishing them more quickly – ha, well, that’s the plan.

‘Down in the Glen’

The first of my finished pieces is ‘Down in the Glen’ which I completed months ago but I wasn’t satisfied with how it looked. I thought that if the trees stood out a little more the scene would have more depth, and so I decided to unpick them and stuff them with some cotton fluff, of the sort that you stuff soft toys with. I couldn’t face unpicking all the trees and sewing them down again after after having just painstakingly sewn around each one, so I put the quilt aside for a while.

Eventually I felt ready to make the changes but found that the stuffing I intended to use gave a rather uneven, lumpy result, so I used a medium loft quilt batting/wadding instead. This gave a more even finish and it was fine for the house roof but gave a flatter look to the trees than I wanted, so I think perhaps a higher loft batting might have worked better for those. I didn’t want to start all over again with different batting so I will just keep this in mind for the next time I do a  project of this nature. It is now finished and the above photo shows it being ‘auditioned’ in a frame. It hasn’t been stuck down to the backing board yet, so it’s not evenly placed and tending to crumple towards the bottom as it tries to stand upright. I need to attach a label on the back before I stick it down.

‘Dog Log’

I have become increasingly unhappy with my bindings, which seem to chop off fussy cut piecing at the edge of quilts, as in ‘Dog Log’ above (also recently finished), or show too much of the binding inside a frame or mount. I have got around this with some quilts by altering the size of the centre space in a mount to hide the binding, but In future I am going to add a further pieced border around my mini quilts for the binding to fold onto, so that this stops happening. I have now unpicked ‘Dog Log”s binding to add a border and binding that will allow the dog house at the top to regain its rooftop and for the dogs and the fence to be seen in their entirety on the other sides.

The second piece I have to show you is the first ‘Luckenbooth’ design that I created, finished just in time for Valentine’s Day this year (see my 19 March 2018 post, ‘Update – Work in Progress’) for more about the Scottish Luckenbooth and its purpose). An online friend said the colours gave it a soft look. This was intentional. I wanted to get away from the hard reds and pinks we usually associate with hearts on Valentine’s Day. This love token is not about passion; it’s about  something quieter and more lasting.

‘Lavender Luckenbooth’

The heart and the crown have also been stuffed with a piece of low loft batting, cut to fit each shape – 3 triangles for the crown and a whole piece for the heart which was then embroidered down the pieced seam on the upper right with feather stitch. Again I think I could have got away with a higher loft batting, especially since I am going to put it in a box frame. A  good press and a frame and it will ready for someone to put on their wall. I would love to think this little quilt could represent a symbol of lasting devotion between two people. That would be so gratifying. There could be a secret message on the back.

The method of stuffing fabric as a decorative feature is called Trapunto quilting, from the French meaning ‘to stuff’. However, traditional trapunto is more complex in that it uses two layers of fabric and cutting and stuffing is worked from the underside, to create a raised surface on the front. My, much easier, fake Trapunto is more like a simple stuffed appliqué which can give fabric pictures a little more depth and interest in a fraction of the time.

It was my hope to open an Etsy shop this January but I have come to realise how much more I need to do, gather together and pay for (more frames and mounts,  perhaps my own domain, a way for people to pay easily, packing materials and lots more), if I am to be as professional as I want to be and offer a great service and I just can’t afford it all at the moment. Next year is probably more realistic. I am disappointed but I will go on adding a few pieces to my Folksy shop from time to time and of course I am always available for questions, which I will answer as best I can.

My next post is going to be a brief step away from Scottish themed quilts to something I have wanted to experiment with  for a while; a fabric picture based on one of Deborah Brochart’s design guides: Third Plus. I also want to talk about the value (or not) of copying designs and following formulas as opposed to charging off on your own path. And I’d like to know what you think about that, too.

So, until next time……


A Duck, More Ducks and Some Sewing

I had this ornament before Daisy, my black and white cat, brought in a duckling. Prophetic, eh?

I have discovered that ducks and sewing don’t really mix, even though they may give equal pleasure. One makes you a whole lot wetter and muddier.

My life has been duck-full lately. I stopped sewing for a spell in the garden. When was that? April? I gardened happily until June when my cat brought in a duckling and deposited it,  unhurt, on the living room floor.  You may remember me mentioning this in passing in one of my earlier posts (EPP Loves the Hexagon).

Baby Maple that Daisy, my cat, brought to me

My little duckling has turned into a beautiful female Mallard with all of her mature colouring. She is aptly named, Maple.

My grown up Maple

When she was five weeks old I decided to buy her a friend, a lovely Aylesbury duck which I was certain was a female. I called her Alba.

Then one day, a couple of weeks later, when I opened the shed door for a moment to put a tray outside, Maple flew out of the open pen,  through the small space above my head and into the sky. After a couple of days and assurances from several people that she would not return, I bought another Aylesbury duck, a female friend for Alba, called Lilly.  Maple, I decided, was a wild duck after all. I had simply taken care of her until she was ready to go out into the world.

In the meantime, I had been having doubts about Alba. If she was female she should have had a well developed quack by 9 weeks but all she had was a croak. I had Lily delivered by the seller, so that I could ask advice from someone more experienced. And Alba, it turned out, was a male. So now I had a mum and dad. Not really what I had in mind, originally.  After Lily’s arrival, Alba began showing off , becoming quite skittish and bossy, so he has been renamed Bossy-Boy. And it suits him perfectly.

Bossy-Boy is at the back, Lily in the front.


But that’s not the end of the story because, no sooner had my Aylesbury pair settled in together, Maple returned. I couldn’t believe it. She came sauntering down the garden path and led me a merry dance around the garden before she let me pick her up. She was very hungry and thirsty and seemed happy to be returned to the pen. She has become more and more tame over the weeks since and clearly loves being part of our duck community.

So that’s my duck story. But not the end of it, I’m sure.

Dismayed to find it was already August, I thought I had better get some sewing done. Usually I do one quilt and finish it and then think about starting another but I thought I would try a different approach this time.

‘Monarch of the Glen?’ I plan to embroider over the stags head as well as hand quilt the surface.

Having got so behind I thought it would be a good plan to complete a series of mini quilt tops, all the same size, one after another and finish them later.  I could do this more quickly which would make me feel as if I had made good progress. I decided to do three Scottish themed ones and a couple of fun ones. All of them are based on traditional, out-of-copyright blocks, re-imagined for my own purposes.

‘Dog Log’, a variation on the traditional Log Cabin block


‘Liberty Square’. The house shapes that circle the square will be more obvious as houses, with windows and doors, eventually.

It was a good idea but didn’t really work. Too many of them needed small changes and when you have half a dozen quilt tops needing little changes, it doesn’t do much for motivation. I must say that I would recommend buying paper pieces if you can afford them. I make my own templates and because I am not a maths whizz, they are always slightly inaccurate. The bought ones are a breeze to put together and you don’t have to spend ages tweaking a block that is not quite square, or has a wonky triangle in it somewhere, and so on. I make my templates, not just to save money but because my ideas don’t always have standard shapes to fit them.

‘Harbour Side’ – a take on our Scottish seaside communities, little boats in a harbour with tartan accents.

‘Close Community’. Two tartans meeting around 4 neighbouring houses (still unfinished)

Followers of my Facebook ‘Forest Moor Designs’ Page, will have seen these five new mini quilts already, so apologies for that, and  I am afraid that, even though I have lots more cut out and ready to go, I have done nothing since. I am hoping this blog post will motivate me to have something more to share soon. I have about twenty (all 8 inches square) to complete, before I move on to something new.

Just a couple more things:  I framed one of my mini quilts to see how it would look in a frame. This is ‘The Wind in the West’: 

Not too bad, but in future I will make the quilt to fit the frame and not the other way around. That will ensure that borders don’t show and triangles don’t get chopped off (lesson learned).  Also, I have a new logo for my sometime-soon-to-be-opened-I-hope shop on Etsy. Someone said the font is not very clear, and I agree, so my daughter and I are working on that. I do love the way the crosshatching looks like little sticks in a forest, though.

So that was what I did in August but I am determined to have a few more mini quilts to show before the end of September.  I have also been thinking how lovely it would be to have two Indian Runner ducks when my husband gets around to enlarging the pen….  ; )

Till next time……