‘Morning Star’ … a journey of a thousand stitches

Actually, it is likely to be somewhat more than a thousand stitches. I guess it would be several thousand, but as I didn’t count them whilst I was making this wholecloth quilt, I will never know the exact number of times the needle entered the soft peachy cotton fabric.

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I have always been fascinated when I have come across old quilts or coverlets in museums or books. I always find myself craning over the rope barriers in museums to take a closer look, to find out more about the maker.

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My mind sets off wondering how those women managed to create such beautiful, intricate and timeless treasures without the luxury of a fabric store with all its choice of fine cottons, without a ‘daylight’ bulb and without all the notions and mechanical aids of today’s modern world.  How different it was for those women of my past who didn’t have a fabric ‘stash’.  It is nothing short of miraculous how they did it  and I love how their strength and tenacity is preserved in the fibres of those beautiful hand made quilts.

These are some of the things that I pondered as I stitched ‘Morning Star’ and in my own way I felt connected to those women as my hands busied themselves with the rocking motion of the needle. I yearned to create something timeless as they had done, to create my own little piece to enchant the eye with intricate patterns.

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The journey began with a sketch on squared paper, doing my best to draw out a ‘scaled down’ version of the actual thing.

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I knew that if I could come up with a design for just one quarter of the quilt, then I could mirror and flip the pattern to create a whole quilt. I started with a design for the centre star; I practiced drawing feathers and gathered quilting templates from magazines and books.

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I ‘scaled up’ the design to a life size version and I transferred it on to fabric, mirroring and flipping the pattern until the whole top was marked out.

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I tried out several different thimbles, but the one that I found suited me best was a Clover leather thimble with a metal centre on the pad. By the time I had finished quilting ‘Morning Star’ I had worn a hole right through the metal on two thimbles and was on my third!

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Whilst the thimble protected my finger on top of the quilt, the finger on the underside took quite a battering and I was forced to stop on many an occasion when it would start to bleed from repeated stabbings.  I didn’t want to risk getting blood on the quilt!  Someone recommended that I use ‘udder cream’ on the afflicted finger which I found a highly amusing notion at the time, but I have to say it did help to sooth my chapped skin 🙂

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It delighted me to work simply with just the cloth and the frame. It was a real escape, simply to sit with the gentle rhythm of the needle as it gathered all those tiny stitches and lulled my racing thoughts.  I was able to lose myself in the doing of it and I loved it.

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Morning star 2

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I stitched ‘Morning Star’ back in 2005, so it is already a few years old and my hope is that I might get to hand it down to a grandchild at some point in the future and tell them the story behind the stitches.

I would like to tell them about those strong women who have gone before us, who stitched by candle light, making do with the materials that they had.  I would like to tell them about how every stitch in a quilt represents a moment in time in the life of it’s maker and I would like to explain to them that, although every tiny stitch stands alone, it is also part of the whole; connected to the rest.

Just like a family.

Natalie x

giveaway … coming soon

Just gathering together a few wee whispers of inspiration and planning to stitch up something a little bit lovely for a giveaway coming soon … 

… if I can bear to take my scissors to this gorgeous Tilda fabric!

giveaway fabric.

 

Natalie x

a parcel and a swap

I posted my ‘wee sheeps’ pouch to Lindsay today. Exciting to think that those ‘wee sheeps’ will be travelling all the way across the pond to Pennsylvania! My! this blogging stuff really can take you places!

Wee sheeps parcel

Next up…. is the Very Berry Handmade Textile Artist Trading Card Swap (phew! try saying that after a few glasses of vino!). I have until the end of May, or there abouts, to design a 2.5” x 3.5” textile card to swap with someone else in the group, so I’ve been looking through my stash for inspiration.

Fabric inspiration

The theme for the swap is “Something New”, which pretty much gives me infinite scope, since the whole process of blogging and swapping is all pretty “new” to me! I wanted to make something that will bring a smile to the person receiving it in the mail and I hope this little offering will do the trick 🙂

ATC borders

ATC final

It’s been fun making this little example of teeny tiny loveliness and, if I get time to try out a few more designs before the swap deadline, I’d love it if all of you would help me choose which one to swap! 🙂

Happy Stitching Everyone!

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fabric finds and other cool stuff

fabric finds3I must confess, it’s been a few years since I’ve been to a quilt show (I know, shocking!), but a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a couple of tickets to the British Quilt & Stitch Village at Uttoxeter Racecourse. So, that’s where I’ve been this weekend – gazing at beautiful quilts and embroidery, not to mention  spending a small fortune on fabric and other cool stuff!

I didn’t intend to spend so much, really I didn’t, but with all that fabric, those buttons, that ribbon and all the other brilliant ‘stuff’ all under one roof, I was doomed from the start!

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With exhibits and traders spread over several halls, the experience was a lot more leisurely than the likes of the Malvern and Birmingham quilt shows; none of that pushin’ n shovin’ malarkey! Just how I like it 🙂

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I found some gorgeous new pastels to add to my stash.  I think I should have enough to make a quilt from them all now, so I’m on the look out for just the right pattern.

I also stumbled across these cute wee charms that you can tie on to handmade gifts.  Can’t wait to use those!

handmade charms

charms

This is cute too.  A little patchwork-styled sitcky note holder!  How fab is that!

sticky notes exterior

sticky notes

I am easily pleased, I know, but I did buy something else that was awfully sensible (for me anyway).  I’ve always looked at those daylight lamps – you know, the ones with a magnifying glass to help you see your stitching better?  When I’ve looked at them before, I could never quite justify the expense.  But, lately, my eyes have been feeling a little strained and my eyesight isn’t quite what it used to be. So, I took the plunge and am now a bonafide LED, daylight, magnifying lamp user! I used it last night for the first time and I wish I had invested in one years ago – what a difference it makes!  I would definitely recommend it!

So, my debit card had taken a battering and I was already headed towards the exit.

Honest I was.

Then I spotted this little lot.

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What was I to do? I mean, really?

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I may never set eyes on such loveliness again, I thought. So, needless to say, those beautiful linens are now keeping good company with the rest of my fabric stash.  I just had to, right? Right.

With all these new additions to my stash, it really is time that I used up some of my existing stock, so to speak. I’ve been working on a little set of fabric storage boxes, which I’ll share with you in my next post.  But until then, here’s a little peek at my progress so far.

aqua fabric storage box progress

Happy stitching everyone!

pot of love

I just love small projects!  There’s a certain ‘cuteness’ and charm to them and I love the fact that they don’t use a lot of fabric and are quickly finished.  They’re also great if you want to whip up a quick gift for someone, like this little ‘Pot of Love’ I made for my Mum recently.

POT OF LOVE

The idea is that you fill it with goodies, such as sweets, chocolates, sewing notions or any other small gift  (I put  Mum’s favourite Lindt chocolates in this one!), attach a little poem or message and present it to someone you love.The great thing is that, once all the choccies have been devoured, you are left with a pretty little clay pot for a flower or plant.

This is  the wording for the little poem that I attached, which you can use, or you can write something of your own

This tiny pot is filled with love

Do not doubt its worth

For any love that we can give

Is the most precious gift on Earth

The fabric used for the pot cover just happens to co-ordinate with the little pillow I made earlier – I think they have a charming rustic look about them, don’t you?

POT AND CUSHION.

I had a lot of fun making it and I hope you do too.  You can download the free PDF pattern for the Pot of Love here.  Happy stitching everyone!