Saturday, November 21, 2009


Big projects have one inherent problem - they take so much time that they are inevitably interrupted while in progress. Right now I'm sewing some patchwork Christmas gifts, which have the disadvantage that I can't show photo proof/eye candy, just in case. I already sewed a wool cloak, dark blue, for a medieval costume event. As it's very plain, any photos would be boring. I will sew the dress for the event after Christmas; the gowns I have so far are suited for warmer weather, and the upcoming event is in January, so I do want something warmer than I've had. Again, no photos.

General Christmas preparations are also a major interruption. I plan to spend time next week decorating and baking; then Christmas cards need to be written. After all, I love to get mail, so I have to produce some in return or advance, whichever.

Quilt sewing just may get postponed into January...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


There are differing opinions on the subject of whether or not to prewash fabrics before sewing them into patchwork. Some claim that their works look better if the fabric is used as new, especially if they don't ever intend to wash them. I belong to those who think that there are at least two important reasons to wash any fabric before cutting and sewing it: possible shrinkage and bleeding.

Even if shrinkage may not seem much on a small individual fabric piece, it does add up, and using strips in various directions may result in uneveness - fabrics shrink more vertically than horizontally. Even if I'm sewing a wall hanging, I want to know that I can wash it if necessary without any detriment to its shape.

Bleeding is even worse - one fabric that is not colourfast can ruin all of the others. Who's to say that some raindrops or a splash of water will never hit the surface even if the quilt does not get washed? (Murphy's Law would warn us that it will surely happen!) Most batik fabrics and some others lose surplus colour when washed and rinsed and can be used afterwards. But on occasion, as happened to me yesterday, a fabric still colours the water after numerous rinses - and I therefore eliminate it from my choices for this quilt. It's not worth the effort I put into sewing and quilting to have it ruined by one or a few pieces.

I spent several hours last evening ironing all the pieces I washed yesterday, and discovered another good reason for preparing the fabrics - it helps me get an overview of all that I have and gets me into the mood for cutting and sewing. I really enjoyed my ironing session - additionally made more entertaining by watching "Mansfield Park" on DVD while working.

Now everything's ready to go, and I can carry on cutting and sewing the over 3000 pieces of which this quilt will be composed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Warning to all handcrafters!

Do not use any animal pawprints in your products!! A most ridiculous but alas genuine legal problem has arisen for handcrafters who used pawprints, mostly those of cats, because a sportswear company whose logo is a wolf's pawprint has sued them. This, of course, gives them the legal rights to all pawprints regardless of their nature. Speaking of nature - perhaps Mother Nature will be the next to be sued?

Do make sure that you wipe your pet's paws carefully before it walks across your carpet - it could be mistaken for a fake sportswear product. Whatever you do, don't take pictures of that and publish them on the internet.

This concerns the Jack Wolfskin company in Germany; for more information, just google the name - you'll find plenty of blogs and newsposts, mostly in German but certainly some in English as well.

Here's a link to start with:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To compete or not to compete

I enjoy challenges - in this particular case I mean the quilt challenges that are set by magazines, organisations, etc. I love thinking about a topic and finding a way to make something that is in character for me while working with the theme.

Some challenges are by their very nature beyond my abilities - geographically, by skill level, by deadline. I haven't been particularly successful with those that I have entered so far, yet I keep trying. So the appearance of the Patchwork Guild's new quarterly magazine, with three challenges for its coming 25th anniversary, interested me greatly. At first I thought about the possibility of making a planned project work for the theme of "25", but then I realized that I couldn't possibly finish that big project on time for the deadline. I will therefore work on it as planned for next year, when the triannual juried exhibition is open for entries.

Then I thought about the possibilities of making something on the theme of "25". I googled the number, finding out interesting and potentially usable ideas like the 25th birthday of Tetris (that would make a fun geometrical quilt!) and the fact that Pachisi comes from the Hindi word for 25 - I could envision a Pachisi quilt. A couple of other connections occurred to me late in the evening, and I went to sleep wondering which one would fascinate me enough to get made.

I woke up knowing exactly what I was to do - nothing! Making a quilt on a theme that has nothing to do with me would only bind up much time and energy that I could more profitably use for making one of the projects I've planned for a long time.

I did find another competition for which I will make something - a quilt shop in south Germany is celebrating its 15th anniversary with an exhibition. The quilts are to be 15 by 15 cm - that's only 6 square inches. I can do that in a relatively short time, and I thought of an idea that connects with me. My daughter lives in that city in southern Germany, and the idea has to do with her childhood drawings and with a museum in that city. Besides, it's something that will be lots of fun for me, just the kind of fussy miniature that I love to do, and playful as well.

So to answer my title question - both.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've spent much time in the past months getting things settled in our new home, so there hasn't been as much time for sewing as I'd like to have. I'm also working on a completely different project which involves a lot of time and concentration. However, I managed to make time for one wall hanging; it's for a challenge and will hopefully be included in the exhibition called "Black and white meet colors". Fortunately, an idea I already had for a long time was suitable, and I adapted it. Let me introduce "Singin' in the Rain":

I worked with triangles set together to form hexagons on a previous project, and I like the way those look like umbrellas. I combined those with various cloudlike fabrics, another with lots of rain, and a dark pattern that looks like cobblestone pavement. Additionally, I used a fabric with musical notes to make the singing visible, then combined it with a quilted rainbow.

It is machine sewed and hand-quilted, with the addition of shiny little tubular beads to give the rain a bit more glamour.

The black and white musical border finishes it off; for the reverse side I used a colorful print with sunshade umbrellas. I don't suppose it will be noticed by most people, but I know it's there, so it's worth the effort.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Barbie doll's 50th birthday brought back memories of my first (and only) Barbie. I was 11 years old and saved my meagre allowance for weeks, even waited for a sale to buy one (my mother did not approve and refused to purchase it for me). I couldn't afford to buy the expensive clothing, so I began sewing clothes and making furniture for my Barbie.

Unfortunately, neither the doll nor the clothing have survived, but I did unearth my first (doll-sized) quilt when going through toys for our recent move. It is not a work of art nor a perfect example of sewing skills, but it belongs to my personal patchwork history and has survived decades.