This carries on from my first blog and answers the questions : Are you part of a sewing group – what do you get out of it?

So, I had got as far as discovering Project Linus at the Craft Fayre. This is a volunteer organisation who make quilts for sick children in hospital and hospice also children who are going to be adopted, in fact, any child in need of a hug. This organisation started in America and now has organisers all over England. I just thought it was a lovely idea, although I was very nervous if I could offer the right standard of work being an accomplished sewer but a learner at quilting.

When I first rang our local organiser she was very encouraging. It took me ages to present my first finished quilt as I ended up starting again ! I had tried to use some hexagons I was given, which seemed fine, so I sewed loads together then ran the steam iron over them when I noticed this smell of damp. This panel was washed about five times and I could still detect a musty smell when I ironed it (although much improved). I realised the standard needed to be a lot better, especially for babies, so went and bought some fabric and started again. Immediately I felt better about things and began to have more confidence in the finished product.

The co-ordinator had pointed out that a of of the Linus quilts were backed with fleece. This is cosy for the children, very much a modern approach. So bought some lemon fleece and wadding at the same time as the fabric. I didn’t realise that people don’t normally put the wadding in if they are using fleece!

I finished a basic “Granny’s Garden” with the hexagons, then embroidered some flowers in some of the hexagons. I sandwiched this onto some wadding, then the fleece. This turned out to be really cosy and is a technique I have used again since. The quilting was a mixture of hand quilting (covered with embroidery stitches) and machine quilting

I was nervous taking this in to the Linus group but was given a brilliant reception. I found the Linus bit box which meant I came home with lots of offcuts. I was also very inspired to see what the other women were doing. Our local group meets once a month, also there are quilting groups at our local shop (Midsomer Quilting). There is always a warm welcome and lots of encouragement at both of these groups. I have learnt loads and have made a lot of friends since I joined. Last year I had an exhibition of paintings at Wells Museum and invited our Project Linus group to use one of the rooms. We had a quilt exhibition and a raffle and am proud that we made hundreds of pounds for the organisation.

At the moment I really miss these groups, I think writing this blog will go some way to help me to feel involved in something, and show me all the things I still have to learn !!

Since that first quilt I did many exploratory projects to try and learn what I was doing.

All the quilts below have been made from fabric from the fabulous Linus bits box.

The Noah’s Ark panel has been hand quilted and then finished on the machine around the edge. I use the Gutermann hand quilting thread as I am heavy handed and tend to snap other thread. It also is pre-coated so it doesn’t tangle too much and is easy to thread.

The Owls panel, I traced the Owls and then used a light box to transfer the same owl onto the plain fabric and hand quilted these before finishing the wavy lines on the machine. I use the quilting pens which disappear when you iron them.

The Treasure Island panel had been abandoned as it had a hole in it so I appliqued a shape over it and then hand quilted the panel, finishing the edge on the machine. The hand quilting is all different colours to match the printed shapes. I have a confession to make, I can’t do the rocking stitch. I have had a lesson from a very patient woman and still can’t do it. As I am trying to enjoy what I do, I am not letting it stop me, I enjoy the two-handed stab stitch approach, I use a big quilting hoop (I have long arms). I haven’t given up on the rocking stitch but refuse to let my inability hold me back

The butterfly quilt was supposed to be quilted on the machine, but after starting it I got into such a pickle trying to force this bulk through a domestic machine I got out Jack the Ripper and unpicked the lot. Several months later, here is the finished hand quilted product (thanks to lockdown – so it’s not all bad).

I have a Victorian folding screen in the main room of the cottage. This doubles as a recording studio for my musician husband and a sewing room for me. I have started to use the screen as a store/design wall. These are stitch and flip squares for my latest random quilt and I like the squares so much that I think they’ll be there for a while.

Every time I see a quilt I want to try it, so my only complaint is that no-one warned me about the heavily addictive nature of quilting !!!

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