Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Brownie Points

Derek and Marge came up from Surrey
When they're not backpacking in Asia and Africa, Derek and Marge are busy renovating their Victorian home. Marge fell in love with our New English Quilter frame when she saw it last year at the 2012 Festival of Quilts. This year she had another look and placed the order. We created a custom 9 foot 10 inch frame for Marge so she could take advantage of every bit of space in her new sewing room. I'm so looking forward to the photos! Derek enjoyed the home made brownies so here's the recipe. I think he earned some 'brownie points' for all that travelling!

Things you'll need
Brownies are an American favourite. But we Americans usually make them from a box! This recipe is from my English husband's father. They're made from scratch but really easy and only use one pan. I think that they taste just as good as the box! So here's an American favourite made in the UK.

Milne Family Brownie Recipe

 Melt a half a slab of butter in a sauce pan over low heat.

Take the pan off the heat then add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder

 Stir together with a wooden spoon.

Add one cup of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla. If you don't  have the 'proper' measuring cups, don't panic, just use a tea cup and guess. This isn't a fussy recipe!

Add 2 eggs one at a time and mix with a wooden spoon

Add 3/4 cup of self rising flour and stir together

Put into a greased 8 X 8 pan and bake at 200 c for about 15 minutes. 
For best results the brownies should be slightly underdone.

Cool and slice into 12 or 16 squares. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Between Friends

Mair and Carol sharing an 8 foot NEQ2 frame

Mair and Carol are best friends with lots in common. They met years ago at the local surgery when their children were babes. Now, their love for quilting keeps them close even though the kids are grown. 

Mair and Carol were at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham this summer when they saw our New English Quilting frames. They got the brilliant idea to share a frame. Sharing made the frame affordable and they thought it would be fun to learn how to use it together. So they rang me up after the show and ordered an 8 foot frame and Nifty Grips to replace the foot pedal on their sewing machine. They decided to get a table too. Carol and Mair opted to come and collect their New English Quilter frame and get a free workshop. 

Choosing threads from various Superior Threads ranges
It's a bit of a drive coming up from Gloucestershire, so Carol and Mair spent the night in the lovely Stables Studio B&B across the street.That meant that we could have a relaxing time setting up the frame, learning how to load a quilt and playing around with lots of new line designs. We had time to go through my stack of quilts and get lots of ideas for beginning projects. Shopping for threads was fun too. I really enjoyed getting to know Carol and Mair. Sharing their New English Quilter means they'll have half the trouble and twice the fun! 

a parting shot before heading home

Monday, 28 October 2013

NEW Table

Our updated 8 foot Purpose built table
Our purpose built table has just been updated. Here's a view of the 8 foot size. It now comes in two 4 foot sections. There is a leg directly under each corner and we think that it gives greater stability. It's a bit heavier to absorb the inevitable vibrations but still light enough for girls to set up and take down. There's a bit more wood in it and a bit more work so the cost is £55 more than the original. We've been sending out the new table with this weeks orders. We'll post some photos of the 6 and 10 foot 7 inch versions soon.

another angle - notice the leg in the middle to absorb vibration

Saturday, 26 October 2013

V and A

Rosie outside the American Embassy in London
 Yesterday Rosie and I went down to the American Embassy in London to get Rosie registered for her American passport! Everything went well and now Rosie is officially Half and Half.

The American Embassy in London
 Our train didn't leave until much later in the evening so we had the whole day to enjoy London. We did a bit of shopping and had lunch and went to the V & A. The Victoria and Albert Museum has something for everyone. I thought that these ironwork exhibits were inspiring  for machine quilting line designs.

I think these would make amazing whole cloth quilts!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Straight Line Quilting

Straight line quilting on Izzy's quilt by Tina M at cruzio dot com

Last weekend, was my first visit to Ally Pally in about 10 years. I was expecting to see lots of knitters and embroiderers so we brought our 4 foot Art Quilter frame that sets up like an easel. We thought that the free motion embroiderers would love it. They did. What surprised me was that so many modern quilters were interested in our larger 6, 8 and 10 foot New English Quilter frames. 

Modern quilters are essentially no fuss minimalists. They like to use solid fabrics, improvisational piecing and asymmetric takes on traditional blocks. They often use straight line quilting that can be done on a home sewing machine. Tina at the Little Blue Cottage  whipped up the beauty at the top of the page for her daughter Izzy. She won a Judges Choice Award for this piece below. Both are brilliant examples of straight line quilting.

Adrift by Tina Michalik March 2013 Judges Choice Award at QuiltCon
Straight line quilting has some excellent features. It gets people out of stitching in the ditch! Stitching over the pieced lines creates an overall pattern that holds the quilt together visually. I do like the fresh and clean look.

Tina described this straight line method as "paying homage to the walking foot" and "not for the faint hearted". Perhaps stitching line after line does get a bit tedious. The modern quilters that stopped by our stand at Ally Pally last weekend used the words "mind numbing" and "time consuming". They wanted a way to complete a quilt quickly. Several people felt that the straight line quilting was limiting and  wanted a quilting style that could be more personal and creative. When they tried the New English Quilter frames they found just the right tool for the job.

New English Quilter frame - a great tool for the modern quilter
The Modern Quilt Guilds are a young movement. They're still growing and adapting. Perhaps those straight lines may head in a curvy direction

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Textile Students

Textile Students on the 4 foot Art Quilter frame
 Ally Pally is a fun venue. It's full of students and teachers.School kids in their uniforms on a fun day out and University students too. These girls are on a Textile Course at university. Look at their faces, they just loved the frame. They loved the gorgeous variegated thread from Superior Threads too.

The Art Quilter frame with the Juki TL98P straight stitch
Being able to effortlessly glide the sewing machine over the perfectly tensioned layers of fabric was quite a novelty.

Textile students 'drawing with the needle' at Ally Pally
They really appreciated the control this gave them as they played with various line designs on the practice piece of fabric. It was sooooo much easier than wrestling with the fabric under the arm of the machine! It is the perfect tool to help them complete their textile projects quickly and to a much higher standard.

everyone had a go with the Juki on the Art Quilter frame
Now they really really want one! It's right at the top of their Christmas list.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching Show 2013

The Knitting and Stitching Show 2013 October 10th - 13th 
 I'll be demonstrating Art Quilting on our 4 foot New English Quilter frame this year at the Alexander Palace Knitting and Stitching Show. I'll be with Franklins Group Ltd, the UK JUKI Distributors at STAND F30.

Ally Pally entrance visit us at stand F30
The show runs from Thursday October 10th until Sunday the 13th. I'll be there all day Thursday and Friday and possibly Saturday. Come and visit!

4 foot Art Quilter and Juki TL98P
You can test drive the Juki TL98P straight stitch sewing machine on our machine quilting frame and try the Juki Exceed range for free motion quilting sitting at the machine.Our 4 foot Art Quilter frame was created with the textile artist in mind. It sets up like an easel creating the perfect surface for free motion embroidery, thread painting, felting and machine quilting.

See Martha with the JUKI people
at Stand F30 
for textile art demonstrations.
Alexander Palace is built on a hill giving a panoramic view of London

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Up from London Town

Siobhan came up from London town last Saturday to collect her 6 foot New English Quilter frame, her 6 foot purpose built table and the Nifty Grip speed control handles that we made to go with her new Juki TL98P sewing machine. Siobhan's a founding member of the London Modern Quilt Guild. Like many modern quilters, she's keen on fresh colours and simple striking designs. But Siobhan loves creating interesting texture and wanted a tool that would enable her to go beyond the straight line quilting often associated with modern quilts.

Siobhan having a play with the Juki TL98P on the 6 foot New English Quilter 
During the free workshop, we took the frame and table apart and put it back together so that Siobhan would know just what to do when she got it home. We had a session with the  Juki TL98P sewing machine too so that Siobhan would know how to oil it and clean it and tension it just right for free motion quilting on a frame.

some of the quilts we looked at during the demo
We looked at lots and lots of quilts and talked about ways to become fluent with various line design stitches.

The Village Haberdashery
Siobhan told me about her favourite London quilt shops like the Village Haberdashery in the photo above, and what fun it is to be a part of London's Modern Quilt Guild that meets the first Sunday of each month in a quintessentially English pub called the Star Tavern in Belgravia.

A Flying Geese project - one of Siobhans quilt tops
I asked Siobhan to bring a few of her unfinished tops so I could get a sense of her quilting style. We were able to audition various threads and play around with line designs that could be used for the quilting. I really liked this Flying Geese project and Siobhan chose a wild and wonderful Neon thread from the Rainbows range of Superior Threads that is going to look gorgeous! 

Siobhan headed back to London Saturday afternoon with her head spinning full of ideas and a boot full of machine quilting tools. I can't wait to see what she gets up to!I've asked her to send me a photo of her new studio set up. I'll post it here when she sends it.