Saturday, 11 September 2010

Time to Think

I was mulling over something Eileen said when she came over to test drive the JUKI TL 98-P. Eileen said "You know, it gives you time to think." This is a perceptive comment. This JUKI does  1500 stitches per minute which is more stitches per minute than any other machine in it's class. It's even faster than many machines that cost a lot more. Speed is necessary for a flowing line of stitching. The JUKI TL 98-P is a semi-industrial machine, which means that the speed is effortless. To put it another way, the JUKI is not trying hard to achieve that speed. It is a simple and powerful machine. There are no complications to get in the way. Because the sewing machine is so capable, the quilter can relax. The JUKI is up to the job so I am free to concentrate on a steady flowing movement of the carriage. Since I'm not worried about the machine I can focus completely on what I'm doing. Like Eileen said, "It gives me time to think!"
Eileen's new JUKI TL 98-P is coming on Wednesday, she didn't waste any time now did she?!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

On the Frame

Jasper on the New English Quilter frame
This post is about Wendy, Jasper and Eileen. On Monday and Tuesday Wendy came down from Scotland for a 2 session machine quilting workshop. Wendy and I have been emailing back and forth for a couple of years, so it was a real treat to get to meet her in person. I set the frame up in the dining room for the workshop because the light is good. Wendy and I had a lovely time but Jasper thought we set the frame up for him. Jasper thinks it's a hammock!

Today my friend Eileen rang up. Eileen bought a table top frame years ago. Now she's looking for just the right sewing machine to put on her Birthday list. Eileen was wondering about the JUKI TL98-P. The frame was still up so I invited her over for a little play. We had to kick Jasper off so Eileen could have a go. Eileen loved it! After about 5 seconds she said "OOOOOOOOOOOh, I want one!"

After 10 seconds she said "I'm having one!" I think that birthday is sorted!

Meanwhile, Jasper walked into the playroom, stepped on the laptop and turned on a Garfield movie! I tell you truly! One of the kid's came running to fetch the camera! And here is the shot. Of course, once she had the camera, Jasper stopped watching. We think that Jasper is much cuter than Garfield! But he still looks a bit put out from getting kicked off the frame.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


One of the nicest things about having a stand at the Festival of Quilts is meeting the other stall holders nearby. Audrey and Tommy Brendel, from Pin Peddlers were at the stand opposite from us at the Festival of Quilts this summer. They came all the way from Etowah, North Carolina. It was their first visit to our Birmingham show. It was a real pleasure to get to know this couple and I just fell in love with all these wonderful pins and charms.I'd seen the pins before, but it was the first time I'd ever seen the charms. I needed to buy some gifts for a couple of my quilting friends and these were perfect. I'm going to carry them in my shop,  but meanwhile you can visit the Pin Peddler site and order directly. As long as you keep the total under£18 you won't have to pay any customs charges.

A funny thing happened at the end of the first day of the show. We had this gigantic 55inch plasma screen running a loop of short films about the New English Quilter, the JUKI sewing machine, Superior Threads and the La Mer DVD. The DVD trailer begins with a beach scene where I walk toward the sea. Tommy and Audrey said, " Martha, we saw you walk to the sea about 50 times today. We kept saying "Don't go!! Come back!! Come back!"  Tommy and Audrey were great fun. I hope we'll see them again next year.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Fresh Look

 Here's a fresh look at an old quilt. This schoolhouse quilt was featured in Popular Patchwork magazine way back in 2003. Last week Marina and Daryl from Quilt Inspiration, emailed me asking permission to use the magazine photo in a blog post featuring house quilts. I said no! I wasn't trying to be mean, I just hated the photo. I'd sent the quilt to the magazine to be photographed for the article and it was just awful - the colours were all wrong!  So I offered to take some new photos and pass them on.

 I'd pieced the Schoolhouse top with remnants from a Jewel Box quilt that I'd made for my daughter, Emily. The Jewel Box was my first free-motion quilt and I was pleased with how it turned out.  I'd quilted it sitting down at the sewing machine. It took every spare minute for 6 weeks and just about killed me. I was so discouraged about machine quilting. Then my dear mom gave me a SuperQuilter frame for Christmas! Once I started playing around with machine quilting on a table top frame, I was never the same.

The second photo shows the Schoolhouse quilt, loaded on the SuperQuilter frame. I was using a 30 year old school's Bernina at the time and kicking the foot pedal across the floor. I decided to quilt smoke coming out of the chimneys using black thread. That gave the quilt a nice texture and black on black hid my mistakes. Then I used a clear mono-filament thread to quilt features on each house, roof tiles and curtains and details on the doors. I was going for a whimsical style like a child's drawing. You can get a better view of the quilting detail by clicking on the images. I'd only had my frame for 3 months when I did this quilt. It just shows what can be accomplished with a bit of imagination and the right tools. I've gone on to create many other quilts but his one holds a special place in my heart.

 I've really enjoyed looking at the Quintinspiration blog. It's fun to see collections of quilts grouped around common themes. I'm very honoured to be included. Thank you Marina and Daryl!

Friday, 3 September 2010

About the Dress

1940's swing dress created by Pauline Loven
Need a period costume for your film shoot? Ask Pauline Loven! Pauline usually does much older stuff, so a 1940's dress was just a little hop back in time. Pauline creates period costumes for museums and film and often just for sheer pleasure. She has the uncanny ability to grab hold of the idea in your  head and make it happen. Amazing. This dress is perfect. Just what I was imagining. I found the perfect fabric at ZandS Fabrics,  an online fabric shop based in Pennsylvania, USA. They have lovely collections and send them beautifully wrapped, ever so quickly. This fabric is a reproduction of a 1945 print, just what we were looking for!

 Among her many projects, Pauline is also working on a 1940's swim suit collection to be featured in the Beyond the Sea DVD.So stay tuned. Meanwhile you may like to visit some of her online sites.

Martha Milne, Pat Roberts and Pauline Loven

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Dawn Dancing

Today  we did a film shoot for the next DVD in the Line Dancing Series. It's called Beyond the Sea  and will focus on adding variations to the basic steps. Beyond the Sea will have a post-war 1940's feel and we're using the fox trot as the basic dance. We wanted to shoot a dance sequence to set the tone and mood for the film.I've been working with Emily and Ryan on other projects. You may have seen them in Victorian costume as they danced the waltz for the Gainsbourough Old Hall film. They agreed to join us for this project. We had a couple of sessions over the summer, learning the steps and adding variations. Then we  headed down to the seaside at 4:30 am this morning to catch the dawn light. 

It was a perfect morning, no rain , no wind just a beautiful sunrise! All that lovely light made the film guys so happy. We've included a few stills to give you a sneak peak. The moving images are even better!

Skegness has never looked so good!

Having a preview peak. The photos are by Nick Loven, Chris Roberts and Pauline Loven.