New EPP Ideas for a New Year

A collection of eggs from my family of ducks. Aren’t they lovely?

Hello Everybody and Happy New Year!

I’m sorry there was no blog post from me in December 2019. My  husband and I caught a virus which we  didn’t manage to shake off until Christmas Eve. And then, two days after Christmas, with my son and his girlfriend coming to stay the next day, we lost power from all our sockets. We did discover two sockets on a different circuit and so we ran extension cables, attached to further extension cables, from these to whatever we needed to use. There were cables all over the house and up the stairs where individual items were constantly being unplugged, swapped around and plugged in.  I found I couldn’t have a heater and an iron on at the same time, or the washer and the dryer without overload and the result was a strong smell of burning that sent me running to disconnect  one of them. This went on until well into January.  It’s so easy  take these things for granted until they vanish, isn’t it? And now it feels so wonderful to have all the cables disappear and the power return. Despite the inconvenience it  was an adventure of sorts and certainly a holiday season that I won’t forget.

As we only used essentials my sewing light was not a contender and this is something I really need to be able to sew in the low light of winter. Before the power went, I did make a set of three, double-sided, accordion houses as a gift for my son’s girlfriend and made a start on a few others, which I didn’t manage to finish.

Double Sided Accordion houses with a Spring like theme.

Here are a larger set of unfinished ones, which are double-sided as well:

Above: Larger Accordion houses with a coastal theme Below: Larger Accordion houses with a farm theme

and a mini set of Japanese Indigo ones, also unfinished as yet. They are just one and three quarter inches ( 4  1/2 cm) from the point of the roof to the base!

After Christmas, in the little space between Boxing Day and New Year, I worked on a  block I started a while back and wanted to finish.  January was just around the corner, when skeins of geese fly over our house on their way to warmer climates and I wanted to record that in fabric.

‘Geese Flying Over’ 8 inches square

I chose a blue grey palette to suggest our  overcast January days and added a group of fussy-cut geese (these may actually be swans but let’s not go there), all pieced together in a  traditional Flying Geese block. I have called it ‘Geese Flying Over”. Now I just have to appliqué a house into the bottom left hand corner and the top will be done. Still lots more work to do before it’s finished, though.

What should you expect from this blog in 2020?  My plan is to add some ‘special’ posts between my ‘work in progress’ posts to feature a variety of experiments with fabric. I hope to include flower pounding and leaf hammering, vegetable dying, fabric bead making, the use of crayons, coloured pencils and paint on fabric, weaving with fabric, fabric collage, writing text onto fabric and a whole lot more.  Each of these techniques can be used to enhance any EPP project and I hope to show you how. I will also experiment with more of Deborah Boschert’s Design Guides, flag up some of the best tools for EPP , try out some new wall quilt ideas and make one or two traditional American schoolhouses as I just love them. All these in addition to my usual Scottish-theme- incorporated-into- traditional-American block-pattern mini quilts for the wall.

Till next time….


Could You Sew to a Timetable?

A ‘quilted’ hill just a few miles away, taken this time last year.

I don’t know about you but I find that the patterns I have earmarked for Christmas or Valentines day never get done in time because I don’t start them early enough. I begin some things and drift on to other things I fancy and end up with a pile of quilts at various stages of not done.

So I thought why not make a timetable with a couple of quilts to do  each month and a couple of UFO’s added in, in case there is time for them?  That way I could factor in Spring Autumn, Winter and holiday themes  and begin them well ahead of time, too.

I could check my list each month knowing I only had to concentrate on those few. The ones that were not finished by the end of the month would be left as  UFO’s to be carried forward, or not, and I would move on the following months’s projects.   I have made plenty of timetables in the past, for exams, for housework, for writing and have never been able to stick to them but I’d thought I would give this a go, regardless. Of course it would mean that, in most cases, only the pieced quilt tops would be finished. It would be unrealistic to imagine I could quilt and bind them as well but I would make good progress, right? Hmm.

My list for July was to make:

An Attic Window with something Scottish in the window:

I ended up making two Attic Windows but they still need something in the windows. The piecing and embroidery in  Hill and Heather, mentioned in my last post,  was done early in July.

‘Foxes in the Den’, begun months ago, didn’t get a look in, but I managed to complete ‘Dog Log’:

If you remember, when I added the binding it cut off the edges of the images around the sides of the quilt, so I had to add a narrow pieced border and sew the binding over that that to reveal the whole image. It does make a difference so I’m glad I did it. This is how it looked before:

‘Dog Log’ with cropped images – not a good look!

That led me to squeeze in another dog quilt this month, a  much smaller (five and a half inches square) spin off from the one above (just under nine inches square). Here it is,  a Dog in the Cabin block that I need a name for. Any suggestions?

‘Sniffing the Morning Air?’ Log Cabin Block

It reminded me of another dog quilt I made for my son years ago called ‘Mr Pickles in he Cabin’.

Its amazing how far two fat quarters with dogs and bones can go!

And so to August. The main thing on my list for August is to make one of the unmade quilts that I bought the fabric for years ago. This was a pack of Laura Ashley pre-cut fabric squares called ‘Whitley’ Bay that I bought from France. It had a sailing ship on the top square but  when I received it, many of the images were not centred on the cut square. Who wants to use part of a sailing ship? I don’t buy cut squares now unless I can see every one. I started making it using more pre-cut squares with checks and stars that I bought from Ebay but they are quite thin and not of the quality that I would buy now. If the description says the fabric is suitable for dressmaking or shirts, I don’t buy it because I know it will be too lightweight. I didn’t know that then.

I had intended it to be cot size, using nine images, but I have cut it down five images, so it will be faster to complete and I can be rid of the pressure of it. I have done my best with the images but in these days of precise fussy-cutting, perhaps it’s isn’t really acceptable.  Here it is in progress with just the triangles to do to complete the top:

‘Whitley Bay’ in progress – just the edge and corner triangles to add to complete the top

I have teamed the Laura Ashley and checked squares with some duck egg tone on tone fabric and I have some fun decking fabric for the back:

‘Coastal Painted Planks’ by Makower UK’

Maybe that will help improve the rest of it though, as the saying goes, you can’t (often) make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

This month I also have  two new quilts ‘Little Star’ and ‘Walk in the Glen’ to make. In addition I need to appliqué some shapes to complete the top of ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’,  add the windows and doors to ‘ ‘Liberty square’ houses, finish two half-done Angel quilts and fix a problem with one called ‘Into the Blue’.  So August is more about fixing and completing than making, it seems.

I’m not sure if this is good progress but it is progress. I might be asking too much of myself, especially as soon it will be time to work in the garden again before winter but I can always make my list shorter. It’s early days. It will be months before I will know if this idea will really work in my favour.  I am sure I will still drift away from it often and make something completely different, just because I fancy it. But what the heck? This is meant to be a pleasurable activity.

So,  I’m thinking timetables can work if you see them as flexible, just to help you along. And if they work for you, rather than you for them. What do you think?

I have some very nosy neighbours at the moment!

Till next time….

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……