Friday, 27 August 2010

New Friends

Quilt by Liz Mayock: Quilting by Tracey Pereira.
 As seen in the latest issue of Irish Quilting Magazine

I had a fantastic time at the Festival of Quilts last week and I will show you all the goodies I got soon BUT I am just way too tired this week. I think I have driven over 500 miles in the last few days going from the Festival in Birmingham, home then off to the South East to teach a beginners longarm class to lovely lady then up to a very rainy Reading to deliver a forgotten Festival Ticket. The Reading trip was horrendous too - 1 hour 30 minutes to drive 49 miles, 2 hours to drive the final 1 mile!

While I was in Birmingham I did meet some lovely new friends though so for todays post I thought I would  share them with you. Lizzet has recently started an online retail shop called 

The Fabric Loft

with some very yummy designer fabric. She has some young, youthful and funky fabrics in the shop at the moment .. which I just love! You can visit her shop here.

I also met Vivienne from Rainbow Disks. Rainbow Disks publish e-books that I really like too. I have several of their titles already and I did buy 3 more. I find they suit my lifestyle just perfectly. If you haven't encountered e-books before they are super! Essentially they are PDF versions of a book on a CD style disk that you load into your computer. You can view them direct from the disk or copy them to your hard drive. You can print the whole book locally or just print pages of interest. Photo images are very impressive too and because they are delivered in a digital format you can zoom into the pictures and really see all the detail close up and personal!  

Annette Morgan and Katherine Guerrier both have a couple or more titles in the Rainbow Disk portfolio now. You can see them here  and on Amazon too. Definitely worth a look.

Who else did I meet .. well Fiona Pullen is a bright new spark in the world of sewing and I just wish I had her youth and vitality. She has recently started The Sewing Directory which is an amazing source of all things sewing and craft related in the UK. You can just about find everything in her site ... including my new ad ! (lol) Fiona is building her business with lots of content now so be sure to check her out here.

I met a lot of other wonderful people of course too but the last one I want to share today is a virtual one. Today I want to pay-it-forward by sharing Annabelle with you. Annabelle commented on my blog while I was away in Birmingham. I am always tickled when someone comments on my blog and I always try to make an effort to go visit you ... so please leave me a message!   Annabelle is having a giveaway on her blog today. She is giving away a lovely crochet flower book (.. so Emma if you read this be sure to leave her a comment .. this is right up your alley!) Here is the link to Anabelles blog.
So ladies and gents, please enjoy my new friends too and if you go visit them tell them I sent you!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Its Christmas !

Once upon a time there was a very hungry quilter ... she made 
one feathered star block ...

Rather rashly on Saturday last week I added my name to the Mr Linsky list over at Quilt Sue and joined the christmas quilt along.  I decided it was about time I finished all those chrimbo projects I have had for years. So, I spent the afternoon pulling out christmas UFO's from the ever-mounting pile ... well piles actually. In fact I had to spend  along time locating the piles because I had hidden them to stop me feeling so bad when I saw them.  I haven't found them all yet either!  But here is a quick run down of the projects I want to get finished. 

one  small quilt top...

one strippy tumbler top...

one  lone double pinwheel block ...

one  cheery lap quilt ...

2 happy borders ...

a bunch of half square triangle ...

some half made pinwheels....

a few log cabin blocks ..

a  collection of fabric to make trees...

a whole kitty of kits.....

one fancy stitched hot pad...

and one christmas bell...

By christmas she thinks she might be a little sick of them!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Barefoot Bricks : Inspired by Kaffe

If you have never been to the  Victoria and Albert Museum in London  you should really should consider adding it to your 'bucket list' (.. thats the list of  things you are going to do before you kick the bucket!)

Its an amazing building that you can just get lost in for hours days! The exterior architecture is worth 6 visits alone but step inside and its a truly mind blowing experience. 

I have been several times to the V & A  and each and every time I find something new and inspiring. On my latest visit to see the Quilt 1700-2010 exhibition I found this great book by Kaffe Fasset in the museum shop. 

Kaffe Fassett's V&A Quilts: 

23 Beautiful Patchworks Inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum 

Now I have to say I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Mr Fassett ... sometimes I looove his stuff and other times not. 

This book I love! 

Its beautifully presented with heaps of inspiring photographs set in the V&A building. Buy it as as coffee table book and you wont be disappointed. Buy it as a project book and you'll be amazed! Its packed with LOADS of contemporary quilt projects inspired by some of the V&A collection of magnificant old masters - 23 projects to be exact. But even better than this - they are not onerous projects either which is probably the reason why I was actually inspired to make this quilt top this week! 


Inspired by the Brick Cot Quilt,  my rendition uses a collection of 10 Pink and Blue FQ's from the Tanya Whelans Barefoot Roses range of fabrics. 


The textiles collection at the V&A is vast but only a very small portion of them ever make it to front of house, which is a great great shame. Hopefully the success of the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition will encourage them to more on display.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Sunday Shorts : "Ohh - thats a nice quilt!"

I've been visiting this week!  I took a trip with the kids to Alton Towers .. yuck .. oops Yum I mean!  Its a theme park  .... do I need to say more? Fortunately my youngest is only 1.2 metres and since you need to be 1.4m for most of the heavy duty rides I managed to avoid them.. hahaha.   Unfortunately the water rides were within limit and so were the water cannon pirate ships so I got exceptionally wet  instead.  But we all had a great day and amazingly didn't leave the park until 7.45pm !
Even better we had a short drive home to warm clothes and an overnight stay at my sisters house where I had a lovely surprise!  Well I say surprise - it shouldn't really have been a surprise but  I am thrilled to see that she is using her wedding quilt on a regular basis.  It honestly made my heart leap to know that it was in use .. and if you are quilter - or indeed anyone who has given a hand-crafted gift  - I am sure you will know what I mean. 

This quilt was her wedding quilt and made 4 years ago from a simple X-star block in gradated blues. I forget the name of this block but X-quisite stars rings a bell if this helps anyone. 

I had forgotten just how nicely it had turned out. In fact when she was showing me her newly decorated bedroom I remarked how nice the quilt was before I realised I had made it!  Anyway -- here are a few piccies of it and a "Sunday Short" of some video  sneaked after she went to work the next morning .... but dont tell her -- she might be cross with me! 


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hello ... my name is Tracey. I'm a Quilter!

Hello peeps, its me again ... with a new blog and a new name!  Chubby Mummy is now officially retired and Tracey Pereira ... dot com!  is operational!   Over the next few weeks I'll migrate the tutorials over to Tracey Pereira  dot com!  so they aren't lost forever.

BUT ...
As a  BIG thank you to you all for clicking through to my new blog I welcome you all to download my Summer Bag pattern.  It aired in Sew Hip magazine a while back and got some nice reviews so I hope you enjoy it to. If you do ....  click to follow me!

So ...its onwards and upwards guys !  I have lots of things planned for this blog so please click the follow me button so you don't miss out.

Summer Patchwork Bag Pattern

Summer Patchwork Bag RFS

How to Block a Quilt

Tutorial: Blocking a Quilt

It has to be said that "Blocking a Quilt" is not a common activity for most quilters. Me included! But I will always block a quilt before I enter it into a competition or exhibition. Other quilts such as utility, juvenile and baby quilts can most certainly be blocked but probably really aren't really worth the effort. Well certainly not in my household where they are frequently dragged into the garden , used as a tent or a parachute, or up-chucked on every now and again! But for heirloom quality show quilts I will always block them before I put on the binding to make them as flat, square and true as possible. Blocked quilts always hang, drape and show texture so much better than those that haven't. What's more a blocked quilt retains a memory of its size and shape and will travel much better too.

But to block a quilt means you will have to thoroughly wet the quilt before you begin .. (is that palpitations I hear?) Yep .. I said thoroughly wet your quilt! Now you are panicking aren't you, but don't worry though its not that bad and you will be so glad you did when your exhibition quilt romps home with a ribbon!

So what is Blocking and why do should we do it?

Put simply, blocking is a way to flatten out and ensure a quilt is square and true at all major visual elements such as blocks and borders. It will remove the built in stresses introduced into the fabric fibres during construction and quilting and will ensure the quilt hangs flat without ripples, puckers and waves. The drape of the quilt is greatly improved,particularly where heavy or dense quilting has been used and the textural quality of the quilting becomes much more apparent.

When we quilt, especially machine quilt, we add stresses, tension and possibly even some minor distortion into the fabric fibres and a good " blocking" will help to relax the fabric fibres and reduce/remove any distortions and size variation throughout the quilt blocks. Some quilt tops are not square before quilting. They might have 'wiggly' borders and/or individual blocks that are out of true. If we are careful when we quilt we can introduce a " little attitude adjustment" to help correct these problem areas and a good blocking prior to binding will underpin and support these adjustments.

On a practical note, techniques such as Trapunto often require a full wetting to remove water soluble thread and once wet the quilt will need to be laid out flat and reshaped before drying. Heavy quilting used to create faux trapunto effects also respond well to blocking as the wetted quilt will shrink up to accentuate the trapuntoed areas. If left unblocked the quilt may look distorted and hang poorly. However, once dried a blocked quilt should hang flat, square and true and retain this shape until the next time it becomes wet.

The Blocking Process

Step 1 : Half fill a bath tub with luke warm water. Not cold and not hot! Add at least 5 or 6 dye-magnet sheets - these are the sort that attract surplus dye floating in the water.
Even if you have a large capacity washing machine I would still advise using a bath tub for this step simply because you can see what is happening to your quilt while it is in the water and you can gently agitate it to remove soluble thread, quilting marks and any localised soiling.

I use Colour Catchers - available on the laundry aisle at Tescos and other supermarkets. I think they cost around £3 or so for a box of 12 . I also add a small amount of liquid soap such as orvus paste or similiar.

Step 2 : Add the quilt - keeping it as loose and open as possible. Leave it to soak for a few moments then agitate the water around the quilt and use the palms of your hands to gently agitate the quilt itself. Do not wring or maltreat the quilt at this point otherwise you stand the chance of breaking quilting threads!

Look at the excess dye in the water!
The dye magnet sheets will prevent this going back onto the quilt.

Remove the dye magnet sheets

Step 3 : Drain the water from the bath tub and refill with luke warm water.
Gently rinse the quilt and drain the water again. DO NOT wring the quilt to remove the excess water.

Let the rinsing water drain away. Gently pump the quilt with the palms of your hands to help with the draining process but DO NOT WRING! It will take 5 -10 minutes for enough water to drain from the quilt for the next step.

Step 4 : Place a large clean white towel or sheet in the bottom of the bath tub. Roll the quilt onto the sheet or towel. ONLY use the sheet or towel to support, lift and move the quilt.

Step 5 : Move the quilt to your laundry room and gently place it into the drum of the washing machine. Note: European front loading machines are big enough for a queen/king size quilt once they are wet!

Step 6 : Spin the quilt to remove as much water as possible.

Step 7 : Remove the quilt from the washer and place it in a bucket for support while you move to an area large enough to spread the quilt out flat.

Step 8 : Lay the quilt out on the floor.
I have a laminate floor in my studio that I am happy to put a damp quilt directly onto. (If you are not happy to do this securely tape a piece of plastic sheeting to the floor area first.)
Lay the quilt on the floor and gently tease the quilt into shape. I start at the centre of the quilt and use my hands to pat and tease the quilt outwards making sure it it flat against the floor as I do it.

Step 9 : Check for square.
You will need to check for square several times as you adjust and readjust your quilt. I pick a major design element such as an inner border first to check the squareness as follows:

Using a metal tape measure measure the diagonal right to left through the quilt. Make a note of the measurement.

Now check the left to right diagonal and make a note of the diagonal. Is it the same as the right to left? If it isn't then your quilt is NOT square. To make it square gently manipulate your quilt until BOTH diagonals are the same.

If you find your are having to stretch your quilt out to make it square use T-Pins if your base floor is carpeted to secure in place or use small lengths of grossgrain ribbon pinned to the edge of the quilt on laminate floors. These ribbons can be pulled out to gently adjust the quilt and can be secured to the floor with masking tape. Usually I allow a good 5"to 6" extra on the quilt top to account for any shrinkage during quilting and blocking so I prefer to ease in out of squareness as opposed to stretching it out.

Once you are happy the quilt is as square as possible, check for waviness! I use a 90 degree laser level to check this out. See the red line on the blue border? One you have positioned the laser you can tease the border in or out to meet the laser line.

A metre metal rule is also helpful in this straightening process. Be patient and take your time to get things as good as they can be. I think I spent the better part of an hour or more getting this quilt laid out the best I could. You can see how wavy this border was before I blocked it.

Once you have laid your quilt out and it is is as flat, square and unwavy as possible - LEAVE IT ALONE! Let it dry for at least 24 hours or longer. A fan will help speed up the drying process but do not move the quilt until you are satisfied it it thoroughly dry. The quilt is now ready to be trimmed, stabilised and finished with a nice binding. See here for details on how to stabilise and finish the quilt.

For details on how to launder a quilt look at the free download on my website here How to Care for your Quilt

How to make a simple quilt label ...

Like many aspects of quilting there is always more than one way to do something! Making labels is no exception. I have used lots of methods in the past but I quite like these methods here for producing a simple, fast and professional looking label. It also avoids any hand stitching too. I quite like hand stitching - find it really relaxing but not when I'm in a hurry to get something done! This little tutorial offers a couple of alternative methods for making labels that you might not have tried before. Have a go and see what you think.

Step 1 - prepare fabric for printing ...
my hand writing is not the best and I prefer to make printed labels. I start by following the instructions on BUBBLEJET to soak and prepare my fabric for inkjet printing. You can skip the next couple of steps if you use purchased printer fabric sheets.

Step 2 ... Press and Starch the fabric
press the fabric so there are no creases in it. If you use spray starch on the reverse side of the fabric only you will get a nice crisp piece of cloth. (I believe the reasoning for starching on the reverse side of the fabric ensures the starch penetrates the fibres better .... but dont hold me to that!)

Step 3 : stick your prepared fabric sheet to Steam a Seam 2
this stuff is fantastic and is great for applique work but I found it works great for making printer paper! I just wish we could buy it in the UK! It has a waxy paper on both sides of a heat reactive sticky sheet that is can be used to permanently stick fabric to fabric or fabric to paper or indeed paper to paper! (and possibly lots of other combinations too!) 

Remove one of the waxy protective sheets and hand-press on the prepared fabric  - do not iron! The sticky surface is tacky enough to create a temporary bond that will hold while you put it through your printer.

Step 4 : trim the fabric 
trim your prepared fabric so it is the same size as the seam a seam sheet .. which is US size letter size. You must make sure there are no loose threads hanging outside the sheet or you can mess up your printer.  I always make my fabric bigger than the sticky sheet and trim to size afterwards.

Step 5 : print your label...
using whatever computer program you wish prepare your label wording. (I work with Word and used one of the template label makers with a name badge format.)  Usually I name my quilts but since these were going to charity or be house-quilts I decided not to bother. I put my name, where I live and the date I finished the quilt  ... I also added my website should anyone want to contact me about the quilt. I also chose to colour my label to suit the backing fabric so it would blend it somewhat. I am not a lover of in-you-face labels unless I am sending them off to exhibition in which case I am all in favour of big writing, big labels. 

Step 6 : trim the label to size leaving at least half inch border

Step 7: using iron-on interfacing stitch all around label
using a lightweight iron-on interfacing place the rough side of the interfacing to the right side of the label and stitch around all four sides. Tip ... dont start in a corner .. it may pull down inside your machine and get tangled and then you will get upset!   Start half way along a side. Also when you get to the corners sew 2 or 3 stitches at 45 degrees. This will produce a nicer looking corner.

Step 8 : trim around label.
trim to 1/8" inch around the label and make a small slit in the middle of the interfacing.

Step 9 : turn the label right side out.
carefully push the label right-side out and using a blunt end bodkin or other device push out the corners. If you have sewn a 45 degree corner the corners will round off nicely. using your fingers smooth out the edges and very lightly press the extreme edges to flatten. (Don't iron the centre!)

Step 10 : stitch on the label
place the label in the corner of your quilt and sew to backing fabric by hand or be brave and machine stitch in place!  I wouldn't recommend a machine sewn edge for an exhibition quilt but for a charity or utility quilt it works really well. It takes next to no time to do and wont come off easily. It takes a bit of courage to do it though if you haven't done this before. 9 times out of 10 you wont even be able to spot the machine stitching on the front of the quilt.

To speed things up on a couple of quilts I missed out the ' bagging' stage of the label alltogther and  used the steam a seam to stick the label to the quilt. I did add an extra line of machine stitching around the edges for additional security though. It was a little stiff on the first quilt so on the next one I cut out the centre of the steam a seam and made a 'border' of sticky stuff.  This felt much softer and is the way I would recommend in the future.

I have since washed and tumble dried a quilt with the stuck on label and it came out just fine. The edges were all in tact - no fraying at all and it didn't lift off the quilt either. The label did loose a bit of colour though compared to the original unwashed label but not enough for the identification data to be lost. 
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