Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Paper piecing for little toes

Drawing out diamonds onto freezer paper
Am loving doing my first paper pieced quilt, a baby one mind!  I have long been inspired by Lucy Boston's work, and the sorrowful memory of giving up on a Grandmother's Flower Garden piece when I was younger. I pleasantly agonised over my choice of fabrics for Evie's quilt, it gave me the perfect excuse to browse and buy at the trader's hall at the Quilters' Guild AGM in Dundee.  I'm glad I took the time, I'm very happy with the soft eastery yellow and bright yet not too bright fabrics that go with it.  The orange is actually left over from Isabel's quilt but goes just perfectly.  My plan is to eventually make a larger quilt with smaller patches for myself / the house from my box of hoarded scraps and daughter's outgrown clothes, a memory quilt in the style of Tolly's grandmother in Lucy Boston's The Chimneys of Green Knowe.

I'm using freezer paper for my patches.  Personally I've found it far and away the best thing to use for paper piecing because it sticks to the back of the fabric when ironed on and so stays neatly in place while you're tacking the patch down.

First trial of pieces
How to create my templates took me a while to figure out, messing around with printers, but far and away the most economical way to use the freezer paper to get the maximum number of templates was to draw them out myself.  Cue some work with 60 and 120 degree angles and a soothing time spent cutting out templates, and some questions as to how a parallel line can 'move'.

I ironed a few paper pieces on to my fabrics making sure they were at least half an inch apart, then cut them out giving myself at least a quarter of an inch all round to turn over.  Once I'd tacked a few I laid them out to get an idea of how many I was going to need, and then I worked out all the fiddly half hexagons and half and quarter diamonds I was going to need for the edges.  
Final design
I always knew the design was going to be stars and hexagons, but I didn't know how I was going to assemble the diamonds into stars and how big the stars and hexagons were going to come out.  I had thought random would be fine, but then looking at it decided on expanding concentric 'circles' of each kind of star and to match the orange with the green and the blue with the white.  The green stripe was slightly fussy cut in that I decided to keep the stripes lengthways, but this was the direction of the weave.

I broke out the isometric paper and drew out what I had already (coloured in shapes, left).  To keep the pattern right I worked it out beyond the edges of the quilt (unfilled shapes, left) and could then just count how many setting edge pieces I was going to need of each colour.  I had to make the white patches black because my brain just couldn't cope with remembering which ones should be white!

Paper piecing is the ultimate take along sewing, the tacking was done on the train to and from Stirling, and even kept me occupied on a cold Perth station platform as the snow came down.   Piecing is now taking place in front of the tv under a duvet as the Scottish 'spring' flexes its claws, and it's growing fast.  All I have to figure out now is how to bind the quilt and back it.  I'm thinking knife edge binding, it will be a new thing for me, I've always done continuous binding before.  And I might just do tied / knotted quilting rather than continuous.  No more babies please!

Book making - a whole new world

Folded paper pocket books
I write a diary on a daily basis and have always felt a little dissatisfied, I stick into the pages articles that I read but writing in a bound diary has limitations.  I would like to be able to include more, in addition to the fabrics, wool, threads and small pictures I include I would like to be able to just add in a knitting pattern page rather than having to copy it out or have it reduced so small it cannot be reproduced.  I am fascinated by art journalling and, as you can tell, I blog, but I need a way to bring it together.

On the last weekend of March, the last days of the beautiful warm weather before the snow swept in, I biked to Arbroath to Fran Marquis' house and studio, Springfield Creative Arts Centre.   I nervously made my way in but was quickly made to feel at home by Fran and our bookmaking tutor for the weekend, Kirsty O'Connor.   Fran's house is just beautiful and I wanted to have everything in sight!  The studio room has a high ceiling and is perfect for use as a studio, full of light and space.

I spent the first day reliving all the best aspects of doing art when I was younger, creating papers and cards for our books using paint, paper paste and stamping, getting thoroughly messy and really enjoying myself.  We broke both days for a delicious lunch provided by Fran, even able to put up with my gluten free diet.  On the Sunday we created folded books out of our papers and Kirsty showed us all her tips to create the kind of professional finish I didn't think I was capable of.

Kirsty will be coming back in September and I am so there!  This time we'll be doing stitched books, and this returns me to my first paragraph.  If I can learn how to make books, I can journal on a day to day basis and bind the result, either on a year basis or divide it up if that's too big.  I can write on writing paper and just include in and cut down everything else to size, sketches, articles printed off from online.  I can use the teeny envelopes you get to hold ephemera such as travel and cinema tickets, little things that are so evocative.