Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Organic Fabric

When the latest newsletter from Seamstar dropped into my in-basket it took me about 30 seconds to decide to swoop a purchase of the Circa 60 Beach Mod by Monaluna for Birch Fabrics.   I love the idea of environmentally friendly organic cottons although I will be honest and say I wasn't completely sure what made them organic, or even environmentally friendly for that matter until I went and looked on the Birch Fabric website

According to Birch, traditional cotton growing accounts for almost 25% of the chemical pesticides used in agriculture but more distressing to me is the fact that The World Health Organisation estimates that 20,000 to 40,000 people die from accidental pesticide poisoning each year, most of them in developing countries. It is safe to assume that many of them are cotton farmers. 

I have to say I hadn't really thought about the impact of my hobby before but with 50% of the textiles market using cotton it is probably correct to say that the "gentle art of quilting" is guilty of contributing more than its fair share to global warming. (I'm not so sure I like that !)   

Unfortunately 'organic' usually comes at slight premium but with high street shops increasing their demand for organic clothing the support for organic cotton farming will grow and the price of 100% organic cotton cloth will hopefully normalise.  At the moment though expect to pay a few more pennies per FQ than non-organic. 

 I am only aware of a couple of organic cotton manufacturers 
producing for the quilting industry too,  

Birch Fabrics and Cloud 9.  

Although Spoonflower  also offer organic cotton base for on-demand fabric printing too. Luckily an increasing number of designers are willing to design for organic cotton so we do have plenty of fabric design choice! 

Granted most of it in the retro-modern design genre but hey thats suits me!

But who am I to say "buy organic". It is up to each of us as individuals to decide what and where we buy and asides from fabric design and price there are other factors that may affect our purchase.  

I will tell you I was slightly disappointed when I got my Mod 60 bundle. I was expecting traditional quilting cotton but not s. Whilst the 'hand' of the cotton was soft it was also slightly stiffer due I suspect to the tighter weave and increased thread count. It also had the look of a poplin and made me think dress-making as opposed to quilting.  I was also concerned about the stitch quality I would get from such a tight weave.  Well I can reassure you ... it sewed a dream, released no nasty chemicals when I pressed it and took a crease very very well.  I am impressed! So impressed I dove right in and made these blocks.  Now I can't wait to get more organic!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines to you all from me in my studio today. 

Another mini play day !

This is a Jamie Wallen heart stitched with IQ


freehand filled in the background by me!

Have a nice day!

 Ooh and Mr P if you see this in your part of the world today ...

Love you! 

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Giving myself permission to play

I have a class tomorrow  (No fuss bindings) and some of the ladies have requested a pre-quilted  sample kit  so yesterday I allowed myself a play day. 

 It's been quite a while since I last did this but it won't be again because I really enjoyed myself. In fact I think I have just fallen in love with free hand quilting again. Not that I am so sure I fell out of love with it .. I just stopped doing it .. der!  Silly me!

 There is something very very therapeutic about standing at my machine and doodling. I didn't give a fig what I did I just wanted to cover the piece 42" x 48" as evenly as possible.

I used a signature variegated on the front and used up some half-filled bobbins on the bottom.  But I wish I knew what this bobbin thread was though.  I love the colours in it but I dont have it on the spool anymore.  I am thinking that maybe it was a Valdani?

 I love this plain grey bobbin too.  In between there is a duff bobbin that didn't balance with the top thread so that looks naff .. so I'm not showing you that!

I also had a play with some computerised block patterns. This one is by Sharon Schamber .. oh she who will be worshipped as queen of all quilters!

 I really like this block design and it stitched out ok but I have to say I was a tad weery of it when it took to stitching out the echo before anything else... unbelievably it tracked really nicely and the pattern came out good.  It does do a funny jerky thing in the curls of the spine though ... and if you have a computerised machine you will probably know what I mean so I shall have to fix that I think. Otherwise a good pattern and one I shall use again.

Do you like this fabric I used ?  The photos really dont do it justice I'm afraid. Its a Turquoise Acetate Silk and the shine is unbelievable.  I am lucky enough to live on the doorstep of Blendworth fabrics and this is one of theirs.  Cheap as Chips and looks gorgeous.

These would make good cushions but tomorrow they are binding samples!
I'll let you know what the ladies thought of them!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Feeling a little drunk!

I'm a bit of a sucker for drunkard path units of late. I've made a couple of quilt tops using them now.  I have the help of my trusty Ellison die cut machine which is not so fancy as the Accuquilt but having had it over 10 years now I can tell you its very reliable.

My dining room today!

I use steel dies just like the Accuquilt but I have to pull a lever rather than wind a roller. Now the slightly disturbing thing is that I have worn one of my dies out.  My poor 4.5" drunkard path die has near enough given up the ghost and its  edges are a trifle dull now. It still cuts accurately but not as easily and I now have biceps 1" bigger than a decade ago (ok it was worth a shot blaming a piece of equipment instead of the cake tin!)   Fortunately it played nicely for the thousands of pieces I have recently cut.

Each little packet has 8 sets of L's and Pies
(anyone know the official name for DP parts?)

I am teaching at the Quilters Guild of Ireland Conference in Dublin next month with a slightly different class offering. Yes it's a Drunkards Path class using prepared die-cut pieces!

Colours galore

 It seems this great idea of mine (said tongue in cheek) has proved very popular and I had a sell out class vey quickly. At the moment  I have 15 students with a couple on the waiting list.  I'm delighted of course but it did mean someone was going to have to cut the pieces!

Packing the shipping box

Well you'd think with 4 kids knocking around one of them would have leapt at the chance to earn a few bob but NO the miserable bunch had better things to do like sit GCSE's and A'levels for 2 of them. The little-one was too busy donning a jacket and dickie-bow to  play Dr Who (again)  and the other has been too busy teaching his son to crawl (7 months old and crawling - amazing - what a proud Nanny I am)

So it was down to me.  

So with over 5000 pieces cut, stacked and bagged I started packing them to post to Ireland.  I can honestly tell you my love affair with the little beauties is wearing thin but not so thin that I didn't start another version on Tuesday last week ....but this time I have hand cut some 7" versions using the BackPorch Acrylic Templates.