Friday, 23 November 2012

Guess what?

Coming Soon!

A new Line Dancing Machine Quilter Membership Site

We've been busy working on a surprise the past few months.

We live in a little English village, in the back-of-beyond in Lincolnshire. Yet we ship our New English Quilter frames all over the world.

Over the years we've created lots of material to help people using machine quilting frames to become more fluent at free motion quilting. We offer local demonstrations, workshops and retreats. We've also created dvd’s that teach a no mark method for learning line designs, a technique based on ball room dancing. It’s aimed to give machine quilters the necessary confidence to create bold and flowing lines of stitching.  It also teaches the trouble shooting techniques needed to get quilters, frames and sewing machines all working together smoothly.  Despite their popularity here in England, and America, Australia and beyond, we think it isn’t enough.

We need a place where everyone can come together for support and inspiration, where machine quilters can interact with each other, share knowledge and ask questions.  We've discovered from our retreats that learning together is so much more fun than learning alone. So we decided to create an on line community site. A place where classes, workshops and bite sized chunks of our video material can be instantly available to people everywhere. It offers the big added benefit of getting to ask questions and get answers directly from our instructors as well as tips and suggestions from other members.

Someone once said that quilting is like taking a line for a walk. Put your sewing machine on the carriage of a machine quilting frame and suddenly your line starts dancing. Our goal is to create an on line community, a Line Dancing Machine Quilter Membership Site where people who use machine quilting frames can get on-going inspiration and support, from us and each other.

We’re launching our Line Dancing Membership Site this December. Our introductory Christmas episodes will feature 5 festive Christmas line designs and a few quick and simple last minute projects. We’re offering the Introductory mini-series at a big discount to customers who have already purchased our DVD or attended our retreats. We hope you’ll enjoy the mini sessions and that you’ll give us suggestions and feedback to help us iron out the wrinkles as we learn how to manage the new site. We look forward to starting our new adventure with your help.  More details to follow. Meanwhile, please let us know what you think.

screen grab from the 5 festive line designs film shoot

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Last Look

2 cones of Rainbows  Superior Threads - 832 Rose Garden and  814 Gypsy
I'm handing the quilt over to Jade tomorrow. So here are a few final photos of the quilting detail. The photo above shows my progressive thread choices for the Kaffe rose border. I started with the Rainbows #832 aptly named Rose Garden but had to change to the #814 Gypsy so that I could see what I was quilting.

quilting detail in each section
 I've also used the Gypsy Rainbows to quilt the hearts in the small blue border.

quilting detail Springmaid Persian paisley stripes

The Springmaid Persian Paisley fabric was interesting enough so I used a fine Kimono Silk thread #306 Buttercup to create subtle texture in the central panel. I've just accentuated parts of the paisley pattern.

I used a  bright red Bottom Line pre-wound in the bobbin. It worked well with the trilobal polyester Rainbows and the Kimono Silk. I love how the non-pil fleece that I used as backing shows off the quilting designs on the back. I let Jade choose the backing, she could have opted for the more traditional 3 layers of top, wadding and backing. But Jade wanted her quilt to be soft and cuddly and keep her nice and warm in her attic flat - so it had to be the fleece.

fleece serves as both wadding and backing

Here's the finished quilt thrown across the 8 foot NEQ2 frame. I'm trying to catch the subtle texture of the quilting with the afternoon light from the window. 

Finally here's a shot of the binding. I found this fabric in my stash. I was so pleased because the colours were just right. I cut it on the diagonal so that it would echo the chevron stripe in the central Springmaid Persian paisley panel. Rosie said yesterday, "You know mom, one of the things that I like about this quilt is that the fabric is all patterned. It shouldn't go together, but it does!" Well, I loved making this quilt and I'm glad that it's going to one of my favourite people!

diagonal stripe binding

Monday, 19 November 2012

Eight Maids a 'Missing'

Dutch milkmaid Company logo
Colonel Elliot was a war hero in World War I, a flying ace who inherited several run down cotton mills in South Carolina.  Springs nursed them back to health during the Great Depression and into prosperity during the second World War. In the booming post war economy he manufactured sheets and pillow cases. But his company and brand were unknown. He needed a way to draw attention to his product and the advertising campaign he dreamed up is still the textbook example for how to establish a successful brand.
Elliot Springs Cotton Mill 1931 - the 'Tony Stark' of Textiles
Elliot Springs' factory had an in-house beauty contest and took the winners up to New York where they were sketched by leading illustrators.

James Montgomery Flagg sketching Springmaid beauty queen Billie Etters 1947

Elliot Springs incorporated the sketches into pin-up style style adverts. Springs provocative ad campaign changed the face of marketing. His risqué advertising made Springmaid Textiles famous and sales more than doubled. The ads also provoked considerable disapproval. Springs enjoyed the controversy, as long as people were talking about his company, he didn't care what they said.   

Springmaid  original Persian paisley detail
only the girl on the left remains in the reproduction fabric
In the original fabric, a very large horizontal stripe features 12 girls from the  Springmaid ad campaign.  The bevy of beauties was cut down to only four in the 1990's reproduction of the fabric by  Daisy Kingdom. The provocative poses of the infamous ad campaign were cut and only the four Dutch dairy maids remain.

Now you know why those 'maids went a 'missing!'  I never knew until yesterday, that the fabric in my mother's dress had such a 'colourful' history!  
Late 40's advert - boxer shorts!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

All About the Fabric

Spring Maid Founder's House Sampler reproduction fabric
Most quilts have a main 'thing' that drives the decisions about design and materials. Sometimes it's the piecing or the quilting. This quilt is really all about the fabric. All the decisions that I made about the layout, the colours, the threads and the quilting design were really all about how best to showcase the fabric. 

one of the Springs adverts, my mom's dress was similar
The fabric for this quilt is a reproduction of a fabric originally produced by Spring Mills in 1951. My mother had a dress made from this fabric. I borrowed it from the attic to use in a Harvest Festival folk dance  in 1975. I lost track of the dress during my move to England in 1989, so when I saw the reproduction fabric featured in a magazine advert in the 90's I had to buy some. 

piecing the borders
I'd been saving it for something special and when my son, Ben's girlfriend Jade admired it, I decided to make her a quilt. Jade shares my love of things retro so I knew that she would appreciate it. I didn't want to cut the fabric so I decided to frame it within a couple of borders. At first I'd considered using a pieced chevron border. I even dedicated a whole pinterest board to the idea. But I wasn't happy with the look. In the end I chose a lovely large Kaffe Fassett rose print against an aubergine background and a small blue print. It was simple. The colours were rich and it set off the central panel beautifully. 

 machine quilted with a JUKI TL98P on the 8 foot New English Quilter2
My next choice was the quilting patterns. I decided to quilt the borders differently from the central panel. I wanted to use Emily's pattern for the large rose outer border. But as I practised it on paper the design morphed into something a bit different. I used a stack of hearts for the small blue border.   The central panel is a series of stripes and I decided quilt each stripe differently. 

this #306 Buttercup Kimono Silk thread was perfect for the central panel
My thread choices also were aimed at showcasing the fabric. At first I chose a dark red Rainbows #832 called Rose Garden. But as I began quilting the Kaffe Rose fabric border it was just too good of a match and I found that I was quilting blind. So I changed to #814 Gypsy, a thread which showed up just enough so that I could see what I was doing. And no I did not unpick the first stitching! It was close enough. I used this same thread to stitch the hearts in the blue border. For the main central panel, I also wanted a thread to blend in, merely to create texture and not to draw attention to itself. This gold Kimono silk thread was perfect. 

subtle stitching that echoes the fabric design
 I've just taken the quilt off the frame and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. Now it just needs the binding! I take some photos in daylight and I'll post about why I should have called the quilt Eight Maids a Milking.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Nine Ladies Dancing

One of the great things about the holidays is that they come around again giving me another chance to finish my projects. I call this quilt, Nine Ladies Dancing because of the gorgeous retro fabric. You can read the back story in the link to the previous post. I posted about this quilt last Christmas! So I'm not post early for this Christmas just late from last year! I got stuck on the design part and didn't get un-stuck until a couple weeks ago. So I am very chuffed to be finishing it. My daughter Rosie, filmed  a short video clip of the quilting. I'm quilting a heart design on a chevron stripe in the fabric.I think Rosie did a fantastic job with the filming and the editing, she's 16!  I'll post more tomorrow.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Starry Night

Emily came home last week for a film shoot. And while she was here she saw her sister Ellie working on an art project inspired by Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night. We had the 6 foot Art Quilter frame loaded up with some black fabric and fleece all ready for a film shoot. So Emily decided to thread paint Van Gogh's Starry Night. I'll let her tell you herself:

Emily's Van Gogh on the 6 ft Art Quilter frame

"Quilting is so fun! Last week, I was at home for my university Reading Week. One of my little sisters, Ellie, was doing an art project on Van Gogh's Starry Night piece.

She'd done a beautiful pen rendering of it on paper, and on seeing it I was struck by the notion that I could quite easily do the same thing on the Art Quilter!

The long, repetitive movements that Ellie created with the pen strokes could be also created with my sewing machine needle and thread as I guided it on the frame!"

Ellie's Starry Night colour sketch for her patterns in nature school project

"So, while I was practising some designs for our Christmas film shoot, I decided to have a go at Van Gogh!

First of all, I found a good, high resolution picture on the internet of Starry Night, and put my laptop by the Art Quilter, so I could see what I was 'painting'.

 I simply used the Art Quilter like an easel and drew myself a rectangle to 'paint' in, which helped me keep proportions correct. Then...I just went for it!"

"There were a lot of thread changes, and some practising outside of the box to see if the colours I wanted to use would actually work - they sometimes didn't! - and I kept my thumb on the Stop/Start button on the Nifty Grips , which helped with precision. I mixed a lot of threads together, for example the light blue variegated Rainbows and the purple King Tut, to make the background, which just meant that I got more colour for my thread! I also added the black thread in last, as it was easier to go over and cover up the lighter colours than it would have been to do it the other way around." 

Van Gogh's Starry Night  interpreted in thread by Emily Milne
I love how Emily really captured the movement in the original painting. Isn't it amazing what you can do with the right tools and some great thread.
Two views of the original and a bit of background on the piece.

Starry Night is Vincent van Gogh's most famous painting. "This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big," van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo. A work rooted in imagination and memory, Starry Night's sweeping brush strokes convey movement as a flame like cyprus tree unites the churning sky to the quiet village below.

Painted by Vincent van Gogh in June 1889, currently in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Doing Demo's

I love doing demo's! Lots of our customers who purchase our New English Quilter and Art Quilter frames are opting to come and collect them instead of arranging for shipping. We're offering free tutorials - so new owners can get off to a good start. I really enjoy the tutorials. They provide an opportunity to get better acquainted with our customers. There's plenty of time to go over any questions. We take the frame apart and set it up again. We discuss loading options so that new owners are clear about how to load a quilt on the frame. We go though sewing machines and tensioning and basic trouble shooting. We look at lots of quilts and and try various threads. Finally, we spend a bit of time with pen and paper showing how to create bold and flowing line designs. We pack a lot of information into a few hours! People leave happy and confident with lots of ideas. They come as customers but leave as friends.

Lynda's mussel shell background. 
 I'm so glad to get photos of projects. Lynda has created some lovely texture to go behind the embroidery on these pillows. In the beginning lots of little projects are the best.

Stephanie used fleece to back this little crib quilt
 Loops are one of the best line designs to start out with. They help you to gain fluency as you circle every which way around your quilt top. Stephanie has been doing lots of little projects. It's the perfect way to make good progress. I'm always thrilled to get photos! A big thank you to Lynda and Stephanie!
Stephanie used loops as an all over pattern