Final Piece - Day Nine

Today has been much of the same as yesterday. Lots of ripping and snipping with a little sprinkle of planning. My friend Danny and I are organising and end of year show for second year CAA work. We decided on a bit of a whim that we'd like to exhibit our work outside of college, and it has all snowballed from there. First we had to find a location, then decide what kind of show it was going to be, then lots of negotiations with tutors to arrange curators and help juggle around dates so it all fits together with the other exhibitions the college are putting on this summer.....and that was just the start! We are now in advertising mode, designing poster and flyers, pricing up business card vs postcards, trying to get advice from anyone who has ever put on a show, all while getting my final piece done.


It is exhausting but so much fun. I can't wait till its all ready we are nervously waiting by our work, hoping people turn up for the private view. I've started a little off-shoot blog about the show so we can post information about the exhibition, the artists involved and any interesting behind the scenes goings on. Pop over to and check it out.

So if you have ever put on an exhibition and have any advice, please leave a comment, we'd love the help!

Final Piece - Day Eight

Wednesday was all about the cutting. I finished all my sewing on Tuesday, but a big part of my design is the contrast between very regular square, dense stitching and then voids which are cut into the design and exaggerated in the display. I thought I'd show you a series of photos to give you an idea how I create these spaces - a little bit to show how much work goes into a very subtle piece, and also so I can see where all my day has gone!

First you have the sewn textile. Here you can see an area of dense stitch, and square stitch.

Then there is ripping:


plumping to get rid of all the holes

then ta-da: voids....just really REALLY subtle ones (it's really hard to photograph these it seems)


Final Piece - Day Seven

Today I did the unthinkable. I took CeeCee (my final piece) out into the world and let other people touch her. I am generally not one for the anthropomorphising of objects, but I am very very bored of typing 'my piece' or 'the quilt', and CCC are the initials of this piece's title so CeeCee it is for now. So CeeCee got her first outing today, off to college for a tutorial. My tutors were pleased with the progress and are confident I will get done in time (I guess they aren't reading my blog...). Buoyed by their enthusiasm I am getting more convinced I'll get it done in time. So on Day Seven I didn't follow God's example and have a rest, instead I made a big headway into the next stage of my work and have added 3/4 of the densely stitched areas that make up part of the design.

You can see here the difference in density of the areas I have been sewing today, and the small squares which have been my nemesis for the last six days. For scale the squares are about 1cm sq. 

And for an idea of the scale of the whole thing:

(I am 5'10" in case you are wondering)

CeeCee is coming on in leaps and bounds. Please keep fingers crossed for more sunshine-y good luck tomorrow. I'm off now to ponder what to do with this plant which I just noticed growing in our drain. It looks very pretty which, as our garden choked with Japanese knot-weed will attest, is probably a bad sign.


Final Piece - Day Six

Today there is going to be very little final piece work going on due to the other stack of deadlines I realised at 5 am this morning that are coming up in the next week. I am back on my computer and my sewing machine is having a well earned rest. But I can't resist a little post before I put the final touches to my PDP.

Yesterday when I was fully in my sewing groove I started noticing the interesting folds and tucks that were appearing in my quilt. I got my camera and shot a whole stack of images to pop in my sketchbook, I was just reviewing them and noticed this one.

I love that the un squared half of the quilt is so scrunchy and free, whereas the part of the quilt covered in tiny squares is even folded in a very structured way (left). FlyLilyPad was right when she said that my quilt was exploring 'a perfect metaphor for the unpredictable interplay of organic vs machine; man vs nature.' This project has given me so many opportunities to ponder the subtleties of the things I make and the meanings behind them, I am going to miss it when it is done. But I am looking forward to drowning in colourful fabrics once this is piece is handed in. I am thinking I might finally get round to that 70's pillowcase quilt I've been hoarding for, for the last few years. 

In un-quilt related news, I was very sad to hear of the death of Robin Gibb this morning. BorderlineStraggler had a very big BeeGees phase a couple of years ago and I have to admit I too fell under their spell. During this time we spent a very entertaining evening seeing the world's number one heavy metal tribute to the BeeGees 'Tragdey'. Today's written work will be accompanied by the sweet soothing sounds of their Metal tributes. I encourage you to give them a listen.

Final Piece - Day Five

AKA Dave Gorman and Cinnamon rolls Save My Sanity.

Saturday was not a good day. On Sunday I knew I had a lot of unpicking to do and generally was completely despondent about my piece. As I said before this piece is about 6 times larger than my biggest sample and it has not been a simple case of more of the same stitching, the mechanics of feeding a much larger quilt through my machine and still needing to keep the same strict structure has driven me mad. I have not been able to keep the lines strictly straight, but the process has given me some very interesting insights into my approach to making, and I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to say into my life. All of which sounds very deep and meaningful and some of it is, but without the complicated backstory of the last 30 years it would be hard to explain here. I guess staring at tiny white square for 5 days straight was always going to end in epiphany or madness, for me it was a bit of both!

So how did Dave Gorman help? While making this quilt I have been half listening to music, the radio and the occasional HP film. At some point on Saturday night I remembered that I had 2 new audio books that I haven't listened to yet. I love audio books and I am not sure how I have had these for so long without listening to them. I went for Dave Gorman vs. The Rest Of The World and it was perfect. Gorman's easy style helped me relax and get on with my stitching, it kept me from constantly comparing lines for un-straightness and by 7.30 last night I had 10800 tiny 1cm squares covering my piece!

*sigh of relief*

There is still lots to do, but at happily this stage is done. As for the Cinammon Rolls, they were baked this morning in between stitching bouts and were delicious!


Final Piece - Day Four

This is what today has consisted of

and this. So many in fact I have lost count.

I have learnt that I can't sew in straight lines, and in fact that this whole piece is an exercise in driving me insane. I think Sunday is going to be the day of the unpicker. Right now I am off to eat dinner and watch The Big Bang Theory and drink beer.

Final Piece - Day Three

Today has had much the same flavour as yesterday - frustration. This has mainly been mechanical. My poor sewing machine has taken a real beating over the last few months and despite my promises to send it for a service, the three weeks I'd have to leave it at the shop was just unthinkable. I do have a backup machine, and there are machines at college but none of them have the walking foot which has become quite so important to my work. Today this lack of servicing started to have consequences. The impressive amount of fluff that keeps building up around the throat plate of my machine was not going away with a gentle swipe or blow any more so in a fit of anything-but-more-bloody-sewing I unscrewed parts of the machine I have never looked at before and found a whole warren of dust bunnies. I cleaned them out with an impressive array of brushes, pins and tweezers. Satisfied I began sewing again.


For those of you who don't sew, this is a bad sound for your machine to make. It was the sound of my walking foot falling apart. Walking feet cost about £30 and you usually have to source them online. I don't have time for that. What I did have time for was an impressive amount of swearing, before resolving that I couldn't make it any worse so I may as well have a go at fixing it. I got a screwdriver and started investigating. After some poking, disassembling and reassembling it turned out that a little screw had worked itself loose from overwork and all it needed was tightening.

Ready to go again I also put in a new needle for good measure and couldn't resist a picture of this vintage gem in my sewing drawer.

The rest of the day consisted of line after line of sewing. Right now the quilt is nearly halfway through the first stage. I really have underestimated how long this is going to take.


Final Piece - Day Two

*phfft* Today has not gone well. Me and my final piece aren't seeing eye to eye, I hope we will make up tonight, because really I don't have time for these shenanigans!

What's the problem? Well up till yesterday the biggest sample I had made for this project was A3, moving onto a much larger piece (1.5m on its longer edge) is problematic. The very tight grid that this piece is based on is become warped and distorted as I try and feed all the fabric through my machine, the more I notice how imperfect it is, the more tense I get and the worse my stitches are. A vicious cycle. I know that when I show this to BorderlineStraggler tonight he will say something encouraging to me about the seeing bigger picture, and how I can't really judge the piece till it's finished, and that once the horizontal lines are in you actually wont see the wonky bits. Until then I am taking a break, I have work tonight so thankfully I can't spend all night spotting all my mistakes and making them worse.

On the plus side today has given me a chance to reflect on the piece a bit more and clarify my thoughts on the process and motivations behind it. It is hard to explain them without having any pictures of the piece to illustrate so I'm off to write them down in my sketchbook and when I am further along I'll share them with you alongside a picture of my beautiful piece!


Final piece - Day one

Today I started making my end-of-second-year final piece. For this module we have to make either a single piece, or a small collection. I have decided to make one piece. It is a whole cloth white quilt made up of 10,800 1cm squares, which are then over stitched, removed or ironed to create a minimalist wall hanging.

Yep you read that right. White. Totally white. Not a single scrap of colour. For those of you who know me in real life, you will understand what a challenge this might be for clumsy old me. I have had to be very strict with myself there is to be no tea, no jam covered bagels, no easter eggs (I've already learnt that lesson!), and certainly no dirty hands anywhere near this piece until it is finished. I am going to try and blog each day showing my progress to give you an idea of how I am pulling this thing together. I did have a grand time lapse video plan creating a little video showing how it was made, but I don't have the equipment and honestly it was just another way of not getting on with making this quilt.

First there was measuring, cutting, iron cleaning (yes, I cleaned the iron, did I mention how white this is?) and ironing. Lots of ironing:

Then on to basting. Basting is where you sew your quilt top, back and wadding together very big long tacking stitches all over to hold it in place when you go on to quilt it. This is definitely the most boring part of the whole process. It takes forever, you end up with bruised or bleeding fingers, but it is a very important thing to do. So first I picked my basting accompaniment:

Then I taped my quilt back down,

Smoothed out my wadding - spending almost 10 mins picking off every single stray thread or bit of fluff which would later ruin the look of this minimal piece.

Added the top, and smoothed and smoothed the fabric till it was completely flat

Then the stitching started, you start from the centre and work outwards in a union jack style, before adding lots of extra vertical and horizontal lines. Several hours later I have a fully basted quilt.

And then onto the machine. I calculated there are going to be about 300m of straight lines sewn in this first stage.  I've done about 5% and I'm already tired!


Sit back, relax.

Has it really been over a week since I last posted? At the moment I feel like all the non college craft I am working on is either a gift or a secret, and the mountain of writing I have to do for college at the moment would just lead to moany posts, which leaves me with nothing to talk about! But I promise you I have been working away on a whole host of different projects as you can see from my quilty work in progress basket. Each ziploc bag holds a different project:

Tonight is the second (slightly impromptu)meeting of my Craft Cwtch group. I was talking with the lovely Kate about the importance of having something like a stitch and bitch group to remind us why we are at college. We are here because we all love making things and sometimes college steals the joy for those frivolous things I want to make. When things are really stressful all I long to do is sit down and make a blanket, or make some notebooks, and not worry about the development of my designs or analysing my technical ability. That is what Craft Cwtch is all about. This is also what this blanket is about.

NearlyButNotQuite came to visit recently and I needed a project to keep my hands busy while we drank wine and talked. This blanket grew very rapidly to begin with, and it is now my mindless crafting project of choice - though with its constant colour changing I have remembered quite how much I hate weaving the ends of yarn in.

I am also working up to a proper post about my current college project once it has taken more shape so here is a sneak preview of what my studio window looks like at the moment


Stitching and Bitching

On Tuesday I held my first ever Craft Cwtch (welsh for cuddle), which is a stitch and bitch group I am hoping to start. I kept it really small and only invited a few friends just to see what it was like. I am glad I did keep it small because I got a bit Abigail's Party and overly nervous. However once I got there and unpacked my suitcase it was a lot of fun. We met at The Courtyard - the local arts centre which has a cafe bar- drank beer, ate food and listened to some dreadful open mic performances, all while crafting our hearts out. I taught some people to make paper pieced quilts, and others to crochet. It was a night of Craft Cwtch fun, and everyone was asking when we could do it again, a definite sign of success!

There was some of this:

(You can a bit of my crafty suitcase, filled with fabric, yarns and needles for people to use)

Lots of concentrating faces as new skills were learnt:

And a little bit of this when the craft got too much!

As most people who came were college students who have deadlines a plenty I am going to be very sensible and host the next session in two weeks time, so as not to offer too much distraction. I'll come back with proper details soon so any Hereford readers can pop down and join us for Craft Cwtch fun.


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