Monday, 22 February 2010

Fabric dying workshop

Last week I went on a workshop to learn how to dye fabric using the microwave.  Who would have thought it could be so easy!

We began, surprise, surprise, with all the Health and Safety stuff, but I suppose that's unavoidable these days.

The truly amazing thing was how many colours we managed to make just using the 3 basic colours:  red, blue and yellow.

My primary school memories of colour were that all colours come from these 3 primary colours, but somehow it doesn't mean the same as when you add a little more blue to the red dye and see the transition from red to purple or add yellow and see the colour heading towards orange.
So, anyway, to the procedure:  we started with plain prewashed muslin.  The prewashing bit is important because the dye doesn't take if your fabric hasn't been washed.  You can get blotchy bits like the yellow in the photo - although those particular blotches are caused by using a fabric that doesn't hold dye well.  That was another part of what we did - trying out different fabrics to see which ones held the dye properly.
We made up a salt solution with hot water, a dye solution using the microwave dye powder and added the 2 together in a microwavable container.  Put in the fabric (precut into fat quarters), stir well and microwave.
After we had played around with different proportions of colours to produce a range of colours, we experimented with folding and tying the fabric and using 2 different dyes on the same piece of fabric.  The workshop leader even brought some salt shakers that we used to sprinkle black dye on for extra effect.  A really informative and fun workshop!

Then after all that time spent working with colour, I went home and made some clutch bags using just one colour for each - and fairly plain colours at that!  I think I'm waiting for inspiration to strike on how best to use all the dyed fabric.
Later in the week I had a phone call from someone who described herself as 'your dying friend'.  You can imagine my panic - I didn't even know any of my friends were ill.  Turned out it was someone who had been on the fabric dying workshop with me.  Phew!  That was a relief.

Thanks for calling by my blog.  See you again I hope.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Baby Crib Quilt, Having Babies

Well, another week has flown by.  I've been working on a new baby crib quilt for a friend - well, for her soon to be born baby, not for her.

I decided to make the numbers in patchwork rather than applique them on and it was easier than I had expected, although the number 4 took a couple of attempts to get it right.

I'll post full details on my website once I've completed it.

I love doing baby quilts because the quilting is so much easier and quicker with a small quilt.

I've also managed to make a few shopping bags to keep for unexpected present giving - thank you's and such like.  I picked up a Happy Days remnant for not very much and hope that I'll get about 6 bags out of it in total.

I didn't begin very well because I thought that I would save time by using a rectangle and folding it over for the outside of the bag.  Only when it was sewn together did I realise that the girls on the back of the bag were upside down.

Out came the stitch unpicker and the bags are now coming together nicely made from 2 squares with the girls the right way up on front and back!

I seem to have concentrated on sewing for babies quite a lot over the last few weeks and it made me remember my three when they were born.  Given that the youngest, daughter Samantha, will turn 20 in a few weeks' time, it shows that I'm talking about a long time ago!

When Ben, my eldest, was born, I was working full time and I was huge from quite early on in the pregnancy.  By the time I was 6 months pregnant I looked like a beached whale and people were starting to ask me when he was due.  I breezily assured all and sundry that there was ages to go yet, so it was a bit of a shock to the system when he arrived 9 weeks early.

He weighed the same as a couple of bags of sugar and I could hold him in one hand.  Naturally he had to spend some time in special care and it was a worrying time.  I was given some doll's clothes for him and they fitted a treat, but now he's a great strapping rugby player, so his early start in life hasn't held him back.

By the time my second son, Tom, was born, we had moved into the country about 7 miles from Ludlow.  One day I was driving to the shops when I realised that the steering on the car was really heavy.  When I investigated, I found a flat wheel.  I was in the middle of nowhere with no-one around to ask for help - this was in the days before mobile phones - so I changed the wheel myself.

Not the brightest of things to do, because I felt something give as I pulled on the wheel brace.  Later that day I went into labour and Tom was born that night, 2 weeks early.

So when I became pregnant for the third time, I naturally assumed that I would not go full term.  It was quite a surprise when Samantha lasted the full 40 weeks.  The days leading up to her birth were quite stressful because we had no water:  the mains water pipe had burst somewhere under the fields. 

The water company provided us with a water bowser because of my pregnancy but it meant I had to carry buckets of water into the house regularly.  Any water for drinking had to be well boiled to rid it of the excessive amounts of chlorine it contained.

After that, we decided that pregnancies were becoming too eventful, so we stopped at 3.

Thanks for calling by my blog - talk to you again next week.


What's In A Name

Hi Everyone,
This is the first blog that I have ever written so I'm feeling a little nervous.

As I come from Ludlow and I am a quilter, a good place to start seemed to be the Ludlow's Favourite quilt block.  Pause for blank looks.  You probably know it as Churn Dash, Broken Plate, Old Mill Design, Picture Frame or Puss in the Corner to name but a few.

All quilt blocks seem to go under many, many different names:  sometimes they are exactly the same as each other, sometimes they vary only in colour.

Change some of the pieces round a little or use different colours and you have Sherman's March.

All of which made me think about names in general.  When the children were small, we lived in a house in the middle of nowhere (as we described it), although it was actually in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  And it truly was beautiful there.  We decided to keep some animals to make use of the land - and to keep the weeds down.  If possible, we allowed the children to name the animals and it actually tells the tale of their growing up.

Our first 2 sheep were named Annie and Clarabel after the carriages in Thomas the Tank Engine.  They were named by the boys.  My daughter Samanths named the next year's lambs so they were Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail after the Beatrix Potter stories.

Then as time passed by they began to be named things like Clemons, after Mike Clemons the rugby player.  My children were growing up!

On the subject of sheep, I can remember reading an article about Dolly the cloned sheep where the reporter said she was unusually human-friendly.  Any sheep that has regular contact with humans becomes human-friendly.  Mine would shriek with delight if they saw me come out the house and dash over to the fence so that I could rub their chests or tickle behind their ears.

Truffle the dog was actually named something like Toffee, but his name became warped by children trying to talk while their milk teeth were falling out, causing a certain amount of lisping. He comes running to the sound of food or 'walkies', so it doesn't actually matter what his name is.

But that's taken me off the subject of quilting - my obsession.  I'm just starting a shoofly quilt which is yet another variation of the Ludlow's Favourite quilt block.

I'll add posts to this blog along the way as I get more of the quilt completed.